Bacalar Chico National Park & Marine Reserve

The Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site centered on the northern part of the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize. Measuring more than 12,600 acres (51 square kilometers) in size, the Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve covers an area that is part dry land and part the waters around the island.

Why You Have to Visit Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve On Your Vacation

While the southern part of Ambergris Caye is one of the top tourist attractions in Belize, the northern part of the island forms the Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve and is largely a wild and undeveloped area, encompassing diverse habitats that include: beaches, forests, grasslands, and swamps. Because it is a protected habitat, there are no roads that lead to Bacalar Chico so visitors can only access it via the sea.

Approximately 1,500 years ago, Ambergris Caye was not an island and was instead connected to the mainland. The Ancient Maya cut a channel between what is now the island and the Yucatan Peninsula (now part of Mexico) for reasons unknown. Today, the Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve is a popular destination for visitors who want to enjoy diving opportunities in one of the most spectacularly unspoiled and diverse marine ecosystems in the country.

The reserve is home to endangered species like the puma and jaguar, as well as nesting sites for green sea turtles and loggerhead turtles.

Where in Belize Is Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve Located?

Technically, the Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve includes most of the northern portion of Ambergris Caye, the nearby offshore waters up to the Mexican border, as well as a small portion of Chetumal Bay and the Belize Barrier Reef.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve

The reserve is open all year round and can be visited at any time.

Best Way to Get to Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve

As overland access is prohibited, the best way to get to the reserve is via a licensed tour operator who will take you by boat to the area.

Best Way to Experience Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve

Currently, overnight trips are restricted so visiting the reserve is only possible by day trips from San Pedro or other nearby areas when accompanied by a licensed tour operator. Fishing is restricted but diving and snorkeling is a popular activity.

Contact us if you have questions about Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve or if you would like to a book a tour.


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