Small tropical island on the Barrier Reef with a paradise beach

Things to do in  The Cayes

Belize’s best-kept secret

While Belize’s mainland has lots to offer, it’s the tropical paradise off its Caribbean coast that steals the show. Home to the second-biggest barrier reef in the world, Belize’s coastline is dotted with more than 450 coral-created islands known as cayes. The best things to do in the beautiful cayes—fringed with palm trees and colorful coral gardens—involve diving, snorkeling, or chilling in a hammock. But there’s more too, from soaking up the laid-back Caribbean-cool vibes of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye to exploring desert islands and relaxing in private resorts.

Top 11 attractions in The Cayes

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

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Around 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) south of the shores of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the most-visited snorkeling and diving area in Belize. Part of the Belize Barrier Reef, the reserve covers about 3 square miles (7.7 square kilometers) and is divided into zones according to marine habitat.More

San Pedro

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San Pedro Town is Ambergris Caye's main and only town. This is where the bulk of the island’s eateries, shops, nightlife, and businesses are located. The beach here is a sandy sidewalk at best, but the water and views are still beautiful, and numerous docks dotting the shoreline provide ample swimming opportunities. It also serves as a popular departure spot for dive trips.More

Caye Caulker

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Ruled by the motto,go slow, Belize’s Caye Caulker is a relaxed Caribbean island famous for its turquoise waters and manatee population—a lack of cars adds to the sense of tranquility. Explore the surrounding coral reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving, or just sip rum cocktails on its sun-soaked docks.More

Shark Ray Alley

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Part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley is home to a multitude of 6-foot (1.8-meter) nurse sharks and stingrays with 4-foot (1.2-meter) wingspans. Over the years, fishers went to the site to clean out their catch—eventually, nurse sharks and stingrays started gathering in search of the boats and their daily treats.More

The Split

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Caye Caulker is divided in two by a narrow channel of seawater known as the Split. Crystal-clear water makes this a great spot to swim, while open-air, waterfront bars fuel all-day hangouts. One of these, Lazy Lizard, is among Caye Caulker’s most famous places to party, complete with swim-up bar tables, games, and cabanas.More

Great Blue Hole

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Recognized as one of the world’s top diving sites, and part of the Belize Barrier Reef UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning, deep blue circular sinkhole is located on the Lighthouse Reef atoll. About 1,000 feet (305 meters) in diameter over 400 feet (122 meters) deep, the Great Blue Hole is a unique geographic phenomenon.More

Bacalar Chico National Park & Marine Reserve (BCNPMR)

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Located on the northernmost tip of Ambergris Caye, Bacalar Chico is said to be one of the most pristine reserves in Belize. In addition to being a protected marine reserve since 1996, the biodiverse park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Belize Barrier Reef. It’s an ideal getaway for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike.More
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Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens

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Coral Gardens is part of the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and is packed with unusual and colorful coral formations that can easily be explored thanks to the shallow depths of up to 13 feet (4 meters). Schools of fish such as angel fish, tree worms, and parrotfish can be seen here, adding to the overall beauty and uniqueness of the coral.More
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Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary

Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary

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Manatees graze turtle-grass beds and mangroves in this marine reserve near Belize City, which was established in 2002 to protect the threatened mammals. While it’s illegal to swim with manatees in Belize, tours of Swallow Caye offer the chance to see the animals in their natural environment. Boat trips to Swallow Caye are strictly regulated to ensure they don’t disturb or hurt the manatees.More
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Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

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Rays and nurse sharks greet boats in Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, a natural haven comprising 61 square miles (158 square kilometers) of thriving sea life—including portions of the Belize Barrier Reef. Since the reserve is just off the coast of Caye Caulker island, it’s a budget-friendly alternative to the more distant (and more popular) Hol Chan Marine Reserve.More
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Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

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This low-lying sliver of an island is an uninhabited and unspoiled paradise. The east side is strung with coconut palm-fringed beaches while the west end is covered by ziricote trees that serve as a nesting ground for a colony of rare red-footed boobies. Offshore reefs offer numerous snorkeling and diving opportunities.More

Top activities in The Cayes

Golf Cart Rental in Belize

Golf Cart Rental in Belize

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77
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$65.00
per group
C&S (4 Seater) Golf Cart Rentals

C&S (4 Seater) Golf Cart Rentals

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272
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$65.00
per group
Golf Cart Rental in San Pedro

Golf Cart Rental in San Pedro

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33
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$55.00
per group
C&S 6 Seater Golf Cart Rental

C&S 6 Seater Golf Cart Rental

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$115.00
per group
Golf Cart Rental by Group 3-4seater

Golf Cart Rental by Group 3-4seater

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$150.00
per group
Golf Cart Rental by Group of 2 - 4 Seater

Golf Cart Rental by Group of 2 - 4 Seater

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$125.00
per group
Avis Golf Cart Rental LTD Island Explore

Avis Golf Cart Rental LTD Island Explore

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$75.00
per group
San Pedro Golf Cart Rental
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San Pedro Golf Cart Rental

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4
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$64.00
per group
Golf Cart Rental By Group 2-6 Seater

Golf Cart Rental By Group 2-6 Seater

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5
From
$180.00
per group
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All about The Cayes

When to visit

The best time to visit the cayes in Belize is in the dry season—roughly December–March. This is also the best time to go diving and snorkeling as the water is clearest. However, the trade-off is that it’s also the busiest. Travelers hoping to avoid crowds should try November or April or staying on a private resort island. You can visit the cayes in the rainy season, but it's trickier, especially since squally seas can mean canceled ferries.

Getting around

The best way to get around the cayes is by boat, with ferries and water taxis running daily from Belize City to bigger islands such as Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Smaller private boats head to more remote resort islands. Ambergris Caye is accessible by air; flights from the mainland to San Pedro Airport take around 15 minutes. Or, take island-hopping day trips from the mainland and join dive and snorkeling tours to Belize Barrier Reef and Blue Hole.

Traveler tips

Most visitors stay on Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye and take day trips to hot spots like Lighthouse Reef, home of the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye, or Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark-Ray Alley. Travelers looking for solitude with their sun, sea, and sand can stay on Belize’s smaller and more scenic islands. Highlights include Tobacco Caye, South Water Caye, St. George’s Caye—home to Belize’s biggest settlement in the 1800s—and Southwest Caye on Glover’s Reef Atoll, a marine reserve.

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People Also Ask

How many cayes are in Belize?

There are around 450 cayes (islands) in Belize. Although the two biggest cayes—Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye—are the most commonly visited, there are lots of other islands that travelers can visit on day trips or for overnight stays, including Tobacco Caye, South Water Caye, St. George’s Caye, and Turneffe Atoll.

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What does caye mean in Belize?

Caye is a word that describes small islands made up of sand and coral (and the odd palm tree) and formed around coral reefs. Belize is home to the world’s second biggest coral reef—the Belize Barrier Reef—and most of its islands are part of this marine ecosystem.

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What is the best caye in Belize?

There are so many cayes in Belize that it can be tough to choose a favorite. Most travelers tend to base themselves on either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker and take day trips out to other cayes, like Half Moon Caye, St. George’s Caye, South Water Caye, and Tobacco Caye.

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What is the easiest island to get to in Belize?

The easiest Belize caye to get to is Ambergris Caye. Travelers can either fly or take a ferry from Belize City, with multiple boats running daily. From Ambergris Caye, it’s also easy to get to Belize Barrier Reef and some of Belize’s best diving spots, including the Blue Hole.

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Can you island hop in Belize?

Yes, it’s easy to island-hop around Belize’s many cayes, islands, and atolls. While overnight island-hopping trips are possible, most travelers join private or group day trips and tours from Belize City, Ambergris Caye, or Caye Caulker. Or, take a day trip to Laughing Bird Caye or Silk Caye from Placencia.

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Is there a ferry from Belize City to The Cayes?

Yes, there are ferries and water taxis running multiple times daily from Belize City to both Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Travelers can also take private boats out to Tobacco Caye and other smaller islands or hop on day trips and tours to the cayes from Belize City.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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