Bacalar Chico National Park & Marine Reserve (BCNPMR)
Located on the northernmost tip of Ambergris Caye, Bacalar Chico is said to be one of the most pristine reserves in Belize. In addition to being a protected marine reserve since 1996, the biodiverse park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Belize Barrier Reef. It’s an ideal getaway for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike.
Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve offers a wide array of marine life to spot while snorkeling, including gorgeous coral, West Indian manatees, and green and loggerhead turtles—the park is the country’s largest turtle nesting site. Plus, almost 200 species of birds, mangroves, and several Maya archaeological sites can be found within the area. It is also home to “Rocky Point,” the only place in Belize where the Barrier Reef actually touches the coastline, making it a popular dive site. The only way to access the park is by booking a guided tour from San Pedro.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Remember to bring insect repellent and sunscreen.
- The visitor’s center provides ample information on flora and fauna sightings.
- Bacalar Chico is considered less touristy than other parts of Belize and Ambergris Caye.
- The park is also reachable from the Mexican town of Xcalak.
How to Get There
Bacalar Chico is only accessible by booking an hour-long boat ride from San Pedro through a tour operator. During windy conditions, you may encounter rough water along the way. During your tour, you’ll also navigate through the narrow channel that divides Ambergris Caye from Mexico. (This channel is believed to be dug by the Maya to form a trade route.)
When to Get There
Because the area is remote, you probably won’t encounter many tourists, even during peak season. If you’re staying in San Pedro, try to plan your visit during one of the town’s annual festivals, such as San Pedro Day and the San Pedro LobsterFest, which take place in June, and Carnival, which starts on Ash Wednesday.
Staying in San Pedro As Ambergris Caye's only town, San Pedro serves as the main jumping-off point for dive and snorkeling trips to surrounding sites such as the Great Blue Hole, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and of course Bacalar Chico. It is also where you’ll find the most activity including restaurants, shops, and tourists, but it still maintains a relaxed vibe.
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