The Most Popular Belize Islands

Turneffe Island Resort in Turneffe Atoll
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Over 450 islands dot Belize’s Caribbean coastline. And these islands, known as Cayes in Belize, are diverse and unique, making it difficult to know which is the best one to visit.

But don’t fret, I’m here to make choosing the Belizean island to vacation on easier by creating a short guide to the most popular islands of Belize:

On this page
1. Ambergris Caye – Belize’s largest island and the most popular travel destination
2. Caye Caulker – Ambergris Caye’s smaller, less-visited island that has a laid-back Caribbean vibe
3. Tobacco Caye – Low-key, tiny island, off the coast of Dangriga that is known for over-water cabins
4. Lighthouse Reef – Belize’s most distant atoll from shore and home of the famous Great Blue Hole
5. Turneffe Atoll – Largest atoll in Belize that is famed for impressive wall dives and snorkeling
6. Glover’s Reef – Belize’s southernmost atoll that is a prime spot for off-the-beaten-path explorers
7. South Water Caye – Island with chill vibes that is slightly larger than Tobacco Caye
8. Snake Cayes – Remote islands off the coast of Punta Gorda, Toledo in Southern Belize
9. St. George’s Caye – Low-key island, just off the coast of Belize City that primarily has beach homes

1. Ambergris Caye

Aerial photo of Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is Belize’s most popular destination and the largest island in the country. San Pedro is the island’s biggest settlement and it’s home to many amazing beach resorts and world-class restaurants. And since Ambergris Caye is really close to the barrier reef, it is a fantastic destination for watersports such as diving and snorkeling. Many travelers also use the island as a base for exploring nearby islands and mainland attractions such as Maya sites.

2. Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker Caribean colors

Caye Caulker is Ambergris Caye’s smaller sister island that is laid-back and popular with budget travelers. The island provides incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities and there are several nice restaurants and bars, such as “The Split“, which is great for swimming and socializing, and Northside Beach, which has the nicest beach on Caye Caulker. There are no cars there, only golf carts, bikes, foot traffic – which accounts for the “Go Slow” signs affixed to several of the island’s palm trees.

3. Tobacco Caye

Overwater Bungalows in Caribbean Colors

Tobacco Caye isn’t for travelers looking for lively nightlife, five-star accommodations, or any scene other than warm waters, palm trees, and a star-streaked sky. The tiny island is home to a population of just 25, give or take, plus how many travelers are residing in the island’s handful of guesthouses at the time. As for things to do in Tobacco Caye, the attractions are limited but amazing: you can easily enjoy snorkeling right off the beach, dining on the catch of the day, and relaxing in a hammock under the palms.

4. Lighthouse Reef

Half Moon Caye is a part of Lighthouse Reef Atoll

Lighthouse Reef Atoll is Belize’s most distant atoll. It is most notable for the Great Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole that lies near the center of the atoll. Most people visit Lighthouse Reef on day trips from Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker; however, travelers can also stay in basic cabins or tents on its various cayes such as Half Moon Caye or Long Caye.

5. Turneffe Atoll

Due east of Belize City, Turneffe Atoll is the largest atoll in Belize. The atoll is famed for its wall dives, often sought by divers on day trips from Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker. For travelers that wish to linger, Turneffe is the most developed of Belize’s three atolls and has high-end resorts: Belize Dive Have, Turneffe Flats, and Turneffe Island Resort.

6. Glover’s Reef

southwest caye in glovers reef

Glover’s Reef is the southernmost atoll of Belize and it is the prime destination for sea kayaking. The biodiversity in Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve is unmatched; it’s been named a World Heritage Site under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Most of Glover’s Reef residents work at the Wildlife Conservancy’s Marine Research Station, but travelers can stay in dorms, thatched cabins, or camp on the beach.

7. South Water Caye

Beach chairs and volleyball at South Water Caye

Similar to Tobacco Caye, South Water Caye is remote and attracts travelers seeking solace over crowds, and relaxation over resort-style luxury. At fifteen acres, South Water Caye is a bit larger than Tobacco Caye, and boasts a rare sandy beach at its southern end. Day trips to Tobacco Caye or Glover’s Reef can be easily planned from here.

8. Snake Cayes

Snake Cayes in Southern Belize

The Snake Cayes are a group of 4 small islands that lie in protected waters off the coast of Toledo in Southern Belize. From Punta Gorda in Toledo, to get to the Cayes, you must charter a speedboat and hire a TIDE tour guide (the local coast guard). An hour or so boat ride brings you to the result – your own remote private castaway islands with beautiful beaches and pristine waters.

9. St. George’s Caye

Beachside at St George's Caye

Believe it or not, in the 18th century, the largest settlement in Belize – then known as British Honduras – used to be on St. George’s Caye. And in honour of a battle won against the Spanish there in 1798, Belize celebrates St. George’s Caye Day nationwide on September 10th. Today, the island is home to the St. George’s Caye Resort and private beach homes for upper-class Belizeans.

Which island do you prefer?



Reader Interactions


  1. Anita Mac says

    I really do have to get to Belize. Sounds so perfect! Was hoping to do some sea kayaking while I was there, and of course, some snorkelling…looks amazing.

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