Hundreds of islands of various sizes and shapes dot the coastline along the entire length of the Belize Barrier Reef. Mangrove-entwined islands sit beside islands with glittering white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Belize islands or (cayes) provides an opportunity for the ultimate Caribbean island escape. Some are protected or located in marine reserve areas and are uninhabited while others may have a resort or two on the beach. The habitats around most of these islands are rich with coral and marine sea life perfect for off shore snorkeling, diving and fishing.
Laughing Bird Caye is a beautiful Belizean isle situated on the western side of the Victoria Channel, only 11 miles off the coast from Placencia Village in the Stann Creek District of Belize. This long narrow isle stands on an elongated ridge of reef known as a faro. A faro is an angular atoll on a continental shelf, also known as a shelf atoll. Like an atoll, a faro is steep sided and encloses a central lagoon. The Laughing Bird Faro is separated from the mainland, the barrier reef and other cayes by deep channels on all sides.
The Caye gets its name from the Laughing Gull (Larus artricilla). The gulls once use to breed on the Caye, but due to a growing human presence, the colonies have moved to nearby undisturbed cayes for breeding. Due to the uniqueness of the Caye, the Faro, and the abundant and diverse marine habitats and life, the Caye was declared a protected area in 1981 under the National Parks System Act. On 21 December, 1991, Laughing Bird Caye National Park was declared. Finally, in 1996 the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was inscribed on the World Heritage List with Laughing Bird Caye National Park designated as one of the premiere protected areas within the World Heritage Site.
SOUTH WATER CAYE MARINE RESERVE: Explore Belize’s largest marine protected area located only 10 miles off the coast of southern Belize in the Stann Creek District. It was established in 1996 and covers 47,702 hectares (117,870 acres) of mangrove and coastal ecosystems. The reserve encompasses over a dozen major cayes and many smaller islets, including Man of War Caye, a sanctuary for magnificent frigate birds and the brown booby. Snorkel off the beach on the islands atop the reef, dive off the “drop off” or snorkel among lush coral patch reefs. Private island lodges and resorts within the reserve includes Pelican Beach Resort and Paradise Lodge among others.
The above are just a few of Belize islands located inside the main barrier reef. Hardcore sailors and island lovers can rent a yacht and explore dozens of these islets in just a few days. In some areas you can also kayak from island to island on day trips. Also see the silk cayes.