Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary
With nearly 9,000 acres (3,642 hectares) of protected habitat, Swallow Caye is one of three important manatee sanctuaries in Belize. (The other two are Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Gales Point Manatee Wildlife Sanctuary.) Boat traffic is highly regulated here, so visitors must join a tour to visit the manatee habitat. Most tours depart from both Caye Caulker, though some options may be available in Belize City.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Plan to bring plenty of sun protection. Many tours are by open boats that offer little shade.
- It’s illegal to interact with the manatees in any way—that includes feeding and petting.
- Keep an eye on the weather. Following rainstorms, the seawater can turn murky and manatees are harder to see.
How to Get There
Boat tours are the only way to reach the wildlife sanctuary. Since boats visiting the main manatee-viewing area must be smaller than 36 feet (11 meters), rougher seas can mean a bumpy ride. If you’re prone to motion sickness, consider bringing along your preferred remedy.
When to Get There
West Indian manatees are present in Swallow Caye year-round. Because they’re easier to see when the water is clear, the dry season of November through April is the best time for viewing. September and October are the rainiest months of the year, making this period a good one to avoid.
Other Marine Animals in Belize Manatees aren’t the only stars of the sea here. From March through June, massive whale sharks appear on the Belize coast, while sea turtles are a year-round presence. On snorkeling, diving, and boat tours, it’s common to see rays: The species found in Belize include eagle rays, sting rays, and manta rays. Dolphins are another highlight, so watch for bottlenose and spinner dolphins when you’re out on the water.
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