The offshore cayes of the Toledo District are one of Belize's undiscovered gems! The two Marine Reserves teem with marine life, not tourists, and there are now a range of snorkelling and diving day-trips available, as well as trolling and bottom fishing, and fly-fishing in these world-class waters.
Port Honduras Marine Reserve
Established in 2000, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve lies just north of Punta Gorda Town. It is an area recognised for its high biodiversity and serves as habitat for various endangered species, including the West Indian Manatee, the American saltwater crocodile, and the Morelet's crocodile. There are 135 small mangrove islands in the area, including the Snake Cayes, which are located on a fringe coral reef system and are home to abundant species of fish and coral.
TIDE's work in protecting the Reserve has successfully reversed the decline in species, coral degredation, and the sea grass beds. You'll see fan, brain, and fire coral, sponges and crabs, lobster, and numerous fish, from grunts, parrot fish, trumpet fish, blue tang, snapper, angel fish, yellow-tail damsel fish, and many more!
Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve
Lying further offshore (around 90 minutes by boat) this World Heritage Site and protected marine reserve, forms the southernmost part of the Belize barrier reef. The Sapodillas are considered, by many, to be the most beautiful set of cayes in Belize.
In contrast to the vertical walls on the northern sections of the reef, you'll find gradual wall declines and their feature spur and grooves, making this area suitable for night dives, as well as great day-time snorkelling and diving. Hunting Caye is a hawksbill turtle nesting site, and you can also see lobster, rays, and whale sharks in the surrounding waters, in addition to the numerous corals and fish species.
Snorkelling, fishing, and diving trips from Garbutts MarineGarbutts Marine is a family-run business, based at Joe Taylor Creek on the outskirts of Punta Gorda Town. Operated by brothers Dennis, Scully, and Oliver, along with cousin Lionel and uncle, Victor, they know these waters like the back of their hand! The brothers grew up in the tiny village of Punta Negra, and spent holidays out at the Sapodilla Cayes where their father was the lighthouse keeper for many years. Dennis was the Manager of Port Honduras Marine Reserve for 7 years, and Scully is a TIDE Board member.
Garbutt Marine offers a range of trips from snorkelling to "Discover Scuba" courses, fishing, and are particularly in demand for fly-fishing trips.
SNORKELLING TRIPSPort Honduras Marine Reserve (full day)
Visiting the Ranger Station at Abalone Caye, Frenchman Lagoon area to search for manatee, West Snake Caye for snorkelling on the fringe reef, fishing on your return journey to PG.
1 - 3 people US$225 boat charter fee; 4 - 6 people: US$60 per person
Prices include snorkelling gear, but do not include entrance fees (US$5 per person) or any snacks
Frenchman Caye (half day)
Visit the Frenchman Caye and lagoon area of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve for a half-day of snorkelling and potential manatee watching.
Prices available on request, and subject to availability
Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve (full day)
1 - 3 people US$300 boat charter fee; 4 - 6 people US$80 per person
Prices include snorkelling gear, but do not include entrance fees (US$10 per person) or snacks.
"Discover SCUBA" full-day introductory class
Always wanted to dive, but never had the opportunity? This trip is a perfect introduction, with a maximum of only four students to each dive master to maximise your instruction time, and safety .You'll learn practical diving skills in a shallow sandy area, before progressing to your 20 feet dive among the fringe reef coral of West Snake Caye
1 student diver US$250; 2 -4 student divers US$150 per person
Prices include dive gear and full instruction, but do not include entrance fees (US$5 per person) or snacks
.Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve full-day
Journey out to the Sapodilla Cayes for your two-tank dive at this diverse dive-site with its gradual walls with their spur and grooves, as well as some vertical walls. The spawning fish aggregations make this a prime site for Whale Sharks - the 'official' season is from March through to June, although Whale Sharks can be spotted throughout the year.
1 diver US$300, 2 divers US$200 per person, 3 - 4 divers US$150 per person
Prices do not include entrance fee (US$10 per person) or snacks.
FISHING TRIPSFly Fishing
With its mangrove coast, clear rivers, hundreds of protective cayes, and the fringe reefs, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve forms one of the most important fish nurseries in the Caribbean. Sustainable fishing is promoted and the Reserve has made the use of gill nets illegal, after consultation with local fishermen. Manatee and dolphin sightings are common in this area.
The Reserve is one of the richest grounds for permit, tarpon, bonefish and snook, and is fast becoming recognised in worldwide angling circles as the 'Permit Capital of the World'. A catch of permit, tarpon and bonefish in a single day of fishing will earn you the much sought after and revered 'Grand Slam'!
1 - 2 people US$400 (depart 7am, return 3pm), includes sodas and water.
Fish for snapper, jack, grunt, and more, around the nearby cayes and banks.
1 - 4 people US$250 (depart 7am return 3pm, half-day fishing available on request and subject to availability). Price includes gear, bait, and water.
Diving packages with Reef CI!
Reef CI offers diving conservation holidays from their new home at the University of Belize's base on Hunting Caye. Focussing on reef ecology and turtle conservation, Reef CI offers recreational scuba diving, PADI certification and marine research survey dives. ReefCI trips are laid back and focus on conserving the environment and at the same time enjoying a well-earned break. The choice is yours - you can be involved in non-intensive or more intensive marine conservation work. Experienced divers, people who want to learn to dive, and non-divers are welcome.