My 8 Favorite Sea Creatures in Belize

Belize has some ridiculously amazing creatures.

Both above the water…

A toucan in the Cayo District.  The National Bird.


Fuego, the tapir, at the Belize Zoo.  The National Animal.


This beautiful Howler Monkey outside of Belize City.


And below the water.

Many know Belize for the coastline, the amazing diving and snorkeling.  And for very good reason.

Fun fact everyone knows:  Belize, you may have heard, has the second longest barrier reef in the world.  Second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve cut in the Reef, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Hol Chan Marine Reserve cut in the Reef, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Fun fact that many people know:  Coral comprise some of the densest and richest habitats in the world – home to up to 25% of the sea life on the planet (they are less than 1/4 of 1% of the entire marine environment.

Belize's Blue Hole - sink hole surrounded by coral - from Tropic Air
Belize’s Blue Hole – sink hole surrounded by coral – from Tropic Air

The reef runs all along the coast of Belize – sometimes a few miles away from the mainland and sometimes touching the coast (up at Rocky Point, Ambergris Caye)…

So it is the absolute perfect place to see a wide variety of fish and all types of marine creatures.  Here are five of my favorites.  Ranked of course.  Starting with my most favorite…the most beautiful…one that makes you want to cry into your snorkel mask for joy…

  1.  The Manatee

You’d be hard pressed to have a more magical snorkeling encounter.  These curious gentle gorgeous flubby vegetarians lazily floating, circling one paddle paw and then the other.  When she makes eye contact with you…you just about want to die from happiness.

This beautiful has been hanging out near a cut in the reef at Caye Caulker.  The guides are very careful to keep a distance from her.  Not because she is dangerous…but because there is no need to scare or crowd this hunk of burning love.


Great places to see them:  The Monkey River Tour in Southern Belize, on your flight from International Airport to Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker – there are always a bunch hanging out at the mouth of the river you fly over and seasonally near Caye Caulker and north Ambergris Caye.

2.  The Nurse Shark


Just off shore of Ambergris Caye, there is perfect the most famous snorkel site in Belize – Shark Ray Alley.  Where you can look overboard and see this…


…a huge pile of them and then you jump.

While for the most part harmless, it’s still ridiculously thrilling to swim with sharks of any kind.

3.  The Eagle Ray

The southern sting ray…it’s a dime a dozen around here.  You can find them floating under docks…challenging the pelicans for fish scraps…


They are a bit cloddish.


But it’s cousin, the spotted eagle ray?  Gracefully and effortlessly flying through the water?  Now THAT is a sight to behold.


Photo from Wikipedia

And, if you are ever on a boat and you see something leap HIGH out of the water…it’s probably an eagle ray.  Apparently they do it to get away from predators.

4.  Whale Shark

The southern part of Belize is known for diving with whale sharks in the late spring – April and May – when snappers are spawning.   They are in deep waters and feed mainly at night but for those that get lucky?  I hear it is the dive of a lifetime.

I snorkeled with these HUGE creatures as they were skimming the surface of the water for food near Isla Holbox, Mexico and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

You feel like you are watching a movie through your snorkel mask…it’s that hard to believe.  (And they are only ranked #4 because I have never seen them in Belize)


5.  Dolphins

Cliche, I know.  But when a pod of dolphins starts playing around your boat…or even swimming along beneath your feet?  It’s total magic.

Here are my friends on our way to Harvest Caye off the coast of Placencia.


I’m already giddy for the day I see them when I am in the water.

6.  Sea Turtles

Trust me when I say that you never ever get sick of seeing a turtle when you are in the water.   Never.   Hol Chan Marine Reserve has a few gorgeous green turtles paddling about…and I get all googly eyed each time I see them.


We also have loggerheads and hawksbills.

You may even see them on the beach.  But let’s hope not…best that they get in the water as soon as possible.  They have a long way to go.


7.  Algae

I saw it in Hopkins, Belize.  During the dry season in a small lagoon not too far from the village.  GLOWING BIOLUMINESCENSE.  Glowing algae.

“We stopped and just stared into the water.  Tiny comets shot out from the boat.  Fish moving away and leaving a glowing path.  And then jelly fish…100s of jellies pulsating in the water.  Here to munch on all this algae – it’s all along their edges and inside them.  Shining.  Some a few feet below…glowing and fluttering.  Some near the top.”

Did I get one picture?  Nope.  Couldn’t – it was too dark.  But I wrote all about it.  And it was AWESOME.


8.  An Octopus or Squid

So what you are thinking.  But when you see one of these guys in action?  Mostly likely on a night dive or snorkel…it’s pretty awesome.  Plus, they GLOW.

Sometimes you can even see them from shore.

Or they can see you.


HONORABLE MENTION:  Sperm Whales!  It’s almost ridiculous to give this sighting second billing but it wasn’t mine.  Just off the coast of spectacular Ranguana Caye – off the Placencia coast- a few days ago, a 50 foot sperm whale!

Seen and photographed by Polly Alford of Blue Reef Adventures and ReefCI.


sperm-whale-2 sperm-whale-3 sperm-whale

These are pretty rare – Polly says they saw a few in August but this was by far the largest.  And the closest.  Totally amazing.

If these 8 plus one don’t make you want to get into the water?  I don’t know what would.  Come on down.

Today’s water temperature is in the low to mid 80s.

PIN IT…if you are planning a trip.

8 AMAZING sea creatures you can find Diving or Snorkeling in BELIZE

  • SPmQQse

    this, was grrrreat.

  • jack

    Been coming to Belize now for 8 yrs love every moment seen most all of these creatures, like you they make me, get all googly eyed each time I see them. all confirmed for sept 19th thru oct 2nd staying at the seven seas really hope we can meet up for some CoffeeTalk!!


  • LOVE this post and all these amazing creatures. I too have a huge soft spot for manatees. I have seen them surface or swim by when I’ve been on a dock but never while snorkeling. I cannot imagine the joy that would bring. <3