10 Things You Might Not Know About South Water Caye (Marine Reserve) in Belize

southwater caye
Photo by Tony Rath


In March of this year, Outside Magazine awarded South Water Caye with a 2014 travel award for having the best beaches in Belize. For those who do not know, Outside Magazine is an American Magazine focused on the outdoors with a circulation of more than 600,000 readers.

south water caye map


South Water Caye is east of Dangriga and is a 15 acre island inside the country’s largest marine reserve. The top activities to do in the island are snorkeling, scuba diving the pristine reef and nearby atoll, kayaking, birding, and paddling the shoreline of the island.



Fodors has described South Water Caye as one of their favorite underrated spots in Belize that has good off the beaten reef diving and snorkeling in a stunning tropical setting.

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Blue Marlin is the ideal beach resort in South Water Caye and is a good base for fishing, diving, and snorkeling.

scuba diving in belize


South Water Caye Marine Reserve is home to sea grass beds, patch reefs, sand bores, mangrove habitat and over a dozen of major cayes and smaller islets. Man-O-War Caye is also found within the reserve which is a sanctuary for the frigate birds and the brown booby.

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South Water Caye is the perfect island to disconnect from the outside world and forget all of your worries as you treat yourself with outdoor activities like beach combing, sunbathing, diving, snorkeling, birding, kayaking and fishing.

rough guides south water caye belize


The Rough Guide has called South Water Caye one of the most beautiful and exclusive islands in Belize.



South Water Caye Marine Reserve along with Gladden Spit Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye Marine Reserve and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, comprise the Southern Barrier Reef Complex, probably one of the areas with the highest biodiversity in the MAR region.

south water caye belize


The highlights of South Water Caye Marine Reserve include the following:

  • Man–Of–War – Caye – is a crown reserve and nesting site for the brown boobie (Sula leucogaster) and magnificent frigate bird (Fregata magnifiscens), one of only 10 nesting sites in the Caribbean.
  • Healthy Coral Reefs – provide habitat to critically endangered species such as the Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus), the Black Grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci), and the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and many other threatened species such as the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus).
  • Twin Caye and Pelican Range – Verdant mangrove islands like Twin Cayes and the Pelican Range harbor highly productive mangrove forests. This variety of luxuriant mangroves foster a unique assemblage of invertebrates and juvenile fishes sheltering in their roots.
  • Carrie Bow Caye – Scientists from the Smithsonian Institution have conducted research at Carrie Bow Caye since 1972 studying the linkages of coral and mangrove ecosystems.
  • Pelican Cayes – Within SWCMR, the Pelican Cayes have been identified as of particular importance, in recognition of the unique and fragile nature, and for the diversity of marine organisms occurring in the sub–tidal mangrove communities of the Pelican Range – unparalleled in the Caribbean. These cayes include deep, clear lagoons encircled by steep, lush coral ridges, with coral reef, mangrove–root, and peat substrates, thickly overgrown by layers of brilliantly colored organisms, including sponges, tunicates, and marine plants.



The Government of Belize included South Water Caye Marine Reserve as an important part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site, established in 1996 for its “outstanding universal value”, and is obligated under this international convention to conserve and protect the area.

Contact us for more information on South Water Caye!