South Water Caye Marine Reserve is a paradise for kayaking and snorkeling in Belize. On Belize’s Southern Barrier Reef, the 117,875 acre reserve is dotted with beautiful little cayes and teeming with marine life. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is part of the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, stretching approximately 1,000 km (621 mi) from the Yucatan to the Bay Islands in Honduras.
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Related: If you’re thinking about visiting Belize, you won’t want to miss Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Check out our post about Birding in Belize.
Paradise Islands – Lodge to Lodge Paddling and Snorkeling in Belize
Kayaking and snorkeling is one of the best ways to explore this marine paradise and we did both on a guided kayak trip with Island Expeditions. You could rent the kayaks from the company and do this trip independently, but we liked the security of a guided trip for our first time exploring this area. Also, when we paddled from one island lodge to the next, they took some of our luggage in a motorboat, so we didn’t have to stow all of it in the kayak hatch. Here are some of my favorite memories from one of my favorite Belize adventure tours – kayaking and snorkeling in Belize.
A few essential items will make your trip go smoothly. Bring a hat, sunglasses, a long-sleeved water shirt and sunscreen. It’s easy to sunburn when you’re out on the water. You’re also going to want an underwater camera/camcorder for taking photos while snorkeling. This one really does a great job and costs much less than a GoPro. It also comes with a lot of included accessories.
Kayaking in Belize
It’s amazing how fast you can move with a sail attached to your kayak!
Island Lodges in Belize – South Water Caye Marine Reserve – Fantastic Snorkeling
Some of the Belizean Cayes cayes in this area are uninhabited, but there are many little cayes with lodges on them. Tobacco Caye Paradise was our favorite accommodation on this trip. These little over-the-water bungalows are basic, but they had everything we needed. We loved falling asleep to the sound of the waves lapping underneath our bungalow and we loved sitting out on the deck and watching marine life swim by. The food was great too. It really is a paradise. It’s such a tiny caye, that it only takes about 10 minutes to walk around the whole island and it’s one of the best places we’ve found for snorkeling in Belize.
Belize Marine Birds
Useful Equipment: You can rent snorkel gear at the lodges or from Island Expeditions, but it’s better is you bring your own. Here’s the mask and snorkel set that we recommend.
Brightly colored coral gardens and brightly colored fish are both abundant in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
Greg Olsen snorkeling over some brightly colored coral formations in South Water Caye Marine Reserve in Belize. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
The Paradise Islands kayaking and snorkeling tour with Island Expeditions really is paradise found in Belize. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
If you want to try something adventurous and unique, explore Belize by kayak. You’ll discover that kayaking and snorkeling in Belize is an experience of a lifetime – whether you’re a beginner or a hardcore kayaker.