Snorkeling in Lighthouse Reef & Glovers Reef
Snorkeling in Lighthouse Reef & Glovers Reef
Snorkelling in Lighthouse & Glover's Reefs, you have the opportunity to swim among some of the best developed and healthiest reefs in the Caribbean. Lighthouse Reef snorkelling mostly comprises sandy lagoons, with beautiful shallow coral gardens and serves as one of only four true atolls in the Caribbean. Glovers Reef snorkelling is a partially submerged atoll and forms a fragment of the outermost boundary of the Belize Barrier Reef.
Lighthouse Reef is situated 80 km to the southeast of Belize city, and is therefore the most distant of the atolls. It is approximately 35 km long from north to south, and 8 km wide, proving a vast total area of 120 square kilometres to go snorkelling in. Average depths are very shallow, between 6 and 20 feet (2 to 6 m) enabling Lighthouse Reef to be an incredibly accessible location for passionate snorkelers, as well as experienced divers.
Glovers Reef is situated just 45 km off the southern coast of Belize. It forms an oval shape, 32 km long and 12 km wide. Gloverís Reef Marine Reserve was established in 1993 to protect its incredible diversity and scientific importance, safeguarding a total area of 350 square kilometres. The interior lagoon is estimated to hold over 850 reef patches and pinnacles that rise to the surface, making it one of the best snorkel sites in Belize.
Marine life in Lighthouse Reef & Glovers Reef
Marine life is abundant at these atolls, full of the Caribbean's most treasured species. Huge shoals of snapper are common sightings, as well as several shark species including bull sharks, hammerheads and nurse sharks. In the tiny holes of rocks, well-trained eyes will spot macro-sized gobies, while butterflyfish ponder about the reef in pairs. Huge cow fish, with their characteristic horns, and stunning grey angel fish only add to what is a highly sought after snorkel trip to the Caribbean.
Best snorkel sites in Lighthouse Reef & Glovers Reef
Lighthouse Reef is home to one of the most famous dive and snorkel sites around, The Blue Hole. This submarine sinkhole, acknowledged to be one of Jacques Cousteau's top 10 sites, is 986 feet across (300 m) and a whopping 407 feet deep (127 m). This hole is famous for two things, sharks and karst rock formations. It is possible to see how different ice ages over thousands of years altered the depths of the oceans, as distinct ledges and cave formations mark each period. These formations include beautiful dripstones, such as stalactites. Some of the shark species include the almighty bull shark, with a bite more powerful than that of a great white shark. Gigantic, solitary hammerheads are also present, patrolling the depths of the hole.
Surrounding The Blue Hole are pristine fringing reefs, and several notable snorkelling sites such as Long Caye Aquarium and Tres Cocos. Vibrant purple creole wrasse and blue chromis are the most prevalent reef species, often gathering atop coral pinnacles.
Glover's Reef holds one of the greatest biodiversities in the Caribbean. It is one of the only remaining spawning sites for the endangered Nassau grouper, its superbly distinct markings resembling a zebra. However, this fish faces a high risk of extinction in the near future. As a result, Glover's Reef remains permanently closed to fishing and in 1996 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best time to snorkel in Lighthouse Reef & Glover's Reef
Snorkelling and scuba diving is available throughout the entire year, and conditions are considered to be easy with very little current to speak of. Winds are at their strongest during March and April, although generally speaking, weather is calm. For the most part, rain is very light all year, whilst the heaviest rain falls between July and August. This helps to maintain the exceptional visibility that is often associated with the Caribbean, lying anywhere from 80 to 130 feet (25 to 40 m). Water temperatures reach a high of 85 Fahrenheit (30∞C) during the summer months, and drops ever so slightly to a low of 79 Fahrenheit (26∞C).
Between August and October it is sometimes possible to see manta rays, while whale shark sightings are fairly common between April and May, as they migrate to follow their food supply.
How do I get to Lighthouse Reef & Glover's Reef?
To reach your snorkel tour in Belize, first head to Belize City. The easiest way to reach Belize City is via the international airport, Philip S. W. Goldson (note, this is not the same airport as Belize City Airport, that only serves regional flights to a few destinations). From the international airport, it is a 30 minute taxi ride to the city centre. It is advised to utilise the taxi services in preference of the airport shuttle which seems to arrive infrequently and is very unreliable. Once in Belize city, hop on your liveaboard or chartered boat that will take you to Lighthouse and Glover's Reefs.