Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary

Swallow Caye is an island (all islands are called “cayes” in Belize) located just a few miles off the coast of Belize City. The caye is located in the center of the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary that measures nearly 9,000 acres (36 square kilometers) and includes part of several other uninhabited islands.

The main attraction of the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is the shallow waters that are covered with vast beds of seagrass. The seagrass is a natural feeding ground for manatees, a threatened species of marine mammal that are indigenous to Belize.

Why You Have to Do a Tour of the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary

Founded in 2002, the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary serves primarily to protect manatees. Manatees are herbivores (plant eaters) with few natural predators, but they can be easily injured or killed by the propellers of boats. As such, boating is strictly regulated, and all watercraft must cut their engines and be manually poled once inside the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary.

In order to protect the manatees, swimming with or touching the manatees is forbidden. But these playful, gentle creatures must surface every 15 minutes in order to breathe, making them easy to spot from a boat.

Some of the most entrancing sights are watching mother and calf pairs swim and play together in the shallow waters of Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary.

Where in Belize is Swallow Caye Located?

The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is located about six kilometers (four miles) due east of Belize City and about 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Caye Caulker.

When Is the Best Time to Tour the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary?

The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is a natural area open 365 days a year, but access is only via private boat operator and may difficult or impossible to reach during inclement weather.

Best Way to Get To the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary

Private boat operators organize tours to Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary from Belize City, Ambergris Caye, St. George’s Caye, and Caye Caulker.

The Best Way to Experience the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary

The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to learn more about manatees and see them in the wild. Beyond the manatees, the area is very lush and pristine, home to many birds, fish species, and plants.

Keep in mind that touching, petting, feeding, or swimming with the manatees is strictly prohibited. Filming and taking photographs is the best way to capture your experience with the manatees.

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