Manatee Tours in Belize
Belize has the most manatees of any country in Central America. These playful and gentle creatures can be found in the waters just offshore from Belize City, locations like the popular tourism destination of Caye Caulker, and in many of the country’s marine reserves.
Why You Have to Go on a Manatee Tour on Your Belize Vacation
Manatees are herbivorous mammals that are commonly called sea cows. Belize is home to the West Indian manatee (trichechus manatus) that can grow up to 13 feet (4 meters) long and weigh up to 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms). Manatees enjoy lazy days in the warm waters of the rivers of Belize and the Caribbean, spending approximately half of the day resting in shallow waters with the other half slowly swimming in search of food.
Currently there are approximately 1,000 manatees living in Belize, but thanks to strong protection from the government the manatee population is slowly growing.
Where Can Travelers Spot Manatees in Belize?
There are manatees found up and down the entire coast of Belize but there are currently three protected manatee areas that will give you the best opportunity to see one of these gentle giants.
Northern Lagoon – located inside of the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in the northern part of the country.
Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary – located approximately seven miles from Belize City.
Gales Point Manatee Wildlife Sanctuary – located in the Southern Lagoon just offshore from the southern part of Belize District.
When Is the Best Time to Do a Manatee Tour in Belize?
The West Indian manatee species found in Belize can be spotted all year-round.
Best Way to Get to the Manatee Habitats in Belize?
Northern Lagoon – Organized tours begin on Caye Caulker with a boat ride to the Swallow Caye Marine Reserve.
Southern Lagoon – The Gales Point sanctuary operates a Manatee Lodge with organized tours leaving by boat to either the Placencia Lagoon or other areas where manatees like to play and feed.
Best Way to Experience the Manatee Tours in Belize?
Manatees are a protected species so you will be warned not to try and touch the animals due to the risk of contact damaging their skin. The Manatee Lodge in Gales Point is the best organized, using local guides to take visitors to see the best spots for observing manatees in the wild.