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The Best Wildlife Spotting in the Belize Cayes

Filled with national parks and wildlife reserves, Belize is home to an estimated 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles, and at least 500 species of birds, many of which can be spotted along the cayes. An island vacation doesn’t mean missing out on any of the wildlife—here is what to look out for both inland and offshore.

Caye Caulker has more than 100 species of birds. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.
< Caye Caulker has more than 100 species of birds. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.
  • Half Moon Caye National Monument: In addition to managing Belize’s protected areas and wildlife reserves, the Belize Audubon Society can arrange tours to top birding hotspot Half Moon Caye National Monument, on Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
  • The Northern Cayes: Birders can explore the shores for unique species on Caye Caulker’s Northern Mangrove Forest Reserve and Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve.
  • The Southern Cayes: Egrets, osprey, herons, pelicans, and other species roam daily over the southern cayes, from the Ranguana Cayes to South Water and the Sapodilla Cayes.
  • Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary: Increase your chance of an encounter—even if rare—with a jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, or tapir with a day’s hike or overnight stay. Cockscomb is easily Belize’s most stunning rainforest park, with the most beautiful waterfall cascade at Tiger Fern.
  • Man-O-War Caye: Hundreds of magnificent frigates nest and hover over this tiny mangrove plot and bird sanctuary, in addition to brown boobies.
  • Mayflower Bocawina National Park: Often overlooked, this park is an uncrowded outdoor haven offering over 7,100 acres of lush rainforest in which to spot hundreds of bird species, including toucans and parrots, as well as howler monkeys, deer, coatimundis, tapirs, and wild cats like the ocelot. When you’re done wildlife watching, cool off in one of five waterfalls.
  • Río Blanco National Park: Beautiful butterflies flutter away in Punta Gorda’s pristine park.
  • The Community Baboon Sanctuary: Spot howler monkeys, birds, iguanas, and armadillos at this sanctuary in Bermuda Landing, less than an hour’s drive from Belize City.

    A howler monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.
    A howler monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

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