Located 30 miles (48 km) east of Belize City, there is a large group of mangroves and tropical atolls, where there is nothing more than a handful of private resorts and a small population of resident fishermen. The waters surrounding the Turneffe Islands are home to the largest coral reef atoll in all of Belize and were set aside as a protected marine reserve in 2012.
Cayo Aguas del Sur Marine Reserve
With approximately 118,000 acres (47,750 hectares), Cayo Aguas del Sur is the largest marine reserve in Belize. In fact, it is one of the most accessible from the mainland, the western edge is located just 10 miles (16 km) from the coast. With lagoons, islands surrounded by palm trees and mangroves, the reserve is home to a wide variety of species. Visitors will find beautiful reef fish, manta rays and seabirds. Less common, but still possible to observe are sharks, manatees and crocodiles.
Sapodilla Caye Marine Reserve
The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve covers an area of approximately 125 square kilometers and includes fourteen sand and mangrove cayes along the southernmost tip of the Belize Barrier Reef, nearly 40 miles due east of Punta Gorda.
Playa Maya is a very small and quiet coastal community on the Placencia peninsula, which consists of a long and clean strip of sand, beach chairs, wooden docks that stand out in the sea and hammocks hanging between palm trees. Visitors who come here do so to relax, sunbathe and eat fresh seafood in one of the few beachfront restaurants. Of the three beach towns on the Placencia peninsula, Maya beach is the most serene.