Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

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Tom Owens Caye at the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

Established in 1996, the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve is a protected area off the coast of Southern Belize that encompasses the southernmost tip of the Belize Barrier Reef.

Sitting below the Southern Belize Reef Complex, the marine reserve covers an area of approximately 500 sq miles (1,300 sq km), which includes 14 palm-fringed cayes, some considered to be among the most scenic within Belize.

Visiting the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

Southern Belize Reef Complex includes Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, and South Water Caye Marine Reserve

The remote and secluded Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve is one of the least visited marine reserves in Belize. It is located 46 miles (75 km) off the coast of Toledo, a 2.5-hour boat ride from Punta Gorda Town.

Most people visit the Sapodilla Cayes on day trips from Punta Gorda and Placencia, typically for snorkeling, diving, and fly fishing tours. However, for anyone that wishes to stay there, basic hostel-like accommodations can be found on Tom Owen’s Caye by Reef Conservation International and Lime Caye has a remote outpost run by Garbutt’s Fishing Lodge.

Interestingly, although Gladden Spit is famous for whale shark tourism, it is more likely to spot whale sharks at the Sapodilla Cayes for at least 6-8 months of the year! The reason for this is that the sharks migrate to Gladden Spit via the Sapodilla Cayes where they feed on the spawning Snappers from March to June.