Lighthouse Reef Atoll Attractions
The Lighthouse Reef Atoll is made up of six cayes surrounding a lagoon and is the farthest reef atoll from the shore of mainland Belize. Lighthouse Reef Atoll is 20mi/32km long and 4mi/6.4km wide and is characterized by white beaches, swaying palms and interesting coral formations found in the surrounding turquoise waters. Lighthouse Reef is the atoll nearest the Great Blue Hole, a giant sinkhole and Belize's most distinct and unusual underwater feature.Several dive sites are found in the waters surrounding Lighthouse Reef, which are exceptionally good for wall diving. The shallows around the sites offer snorkeling opportunities as well, and a variety of marine life can be spotted. Apart from diving at the Great Blue Hole, the Lighthouse Reef cayes most often visited are Northern Caye and Half Moon Caye. The remaining four cayes; Long Caye, Hat Caye, Sandbore and White Pelican are usually admired from afar, as they are popular with crocodiles and mosquitoes.
Blue Hole Natural Monument
The Blue Hole Natural monument is found in the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and is one of the most astounding dive sites to be found anywhere on earth. It is a circular limestone sinkhole of vivid blue water measuring 412ft/126m deep and 1,000ft/305m across. The water appears to be such a deep blue color because of the hole's depth and is the reason such structures throughout the world are known as "blue holes".The most popular dive site in all of Belize, the Great Blue Hole offers divers interesting observation of bizarre limestone formations that mold its walls. These formations are stalactites, calcium carbonate "dripping rocks" which resemble icicles and become more intricate as the depth increases. A school of reef sharks can also be seen when diving in the Blue Hole. In 1996, UNESCO designated the Great Blue Hole as a World Heritage Site and Natural Monument.
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is part of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and is a protected area including 15sq.mi/39sq.km of the surrounding waters. The caye is a bird sanctuary protecting a colony of about 4,000 of the rare, red-footed booby and is the most visited caye of the atoll. One of only two such colonies in the Caribbean, Half Moon Caye is Belize's oldest national park, created by the Belize Audubon Society in 1982. Cruise ships occasionally moor at Half Moon Caye for day visits.Apart from the boobies, some 98 other species of birds have been recorded on the caye, including warblers, ospreys and white-crowned pigeons and the magnificent frigate bird. The caye has a lighthouse and excellent beaches, as well as a submerged wall just offshore that is teeming with marine flora and fauna. Half Moon Caye measures 45ac/18ha and holds two distinct ecosystems. The west side has lush vegetation while the east side has less vegetation but more coconut palms.Half Moon Caye is popular with both birders and divers. The natural setting of the caye provides good hiking, and wildlife enthusiasts should note that both of the endangered loggerhead and hawksbill turtles lay their eggs on the southern beaches of the caye. A number of shipwrecks in the caye's vicinity present opportunities for interesting dives. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1996.
This observation platform offers visitors a chance to be at birds-eye level with nesting boobies and frigate birds. The platform is reached by a seashell-littered nature trail leading through the southern part of Half Moon Caye.