Called “one of the most beautiful and exclusive islands in Belize” by The Rough Guide, South Water Caye is our private 14-acre Caribbean island with a marine biology field station and private cabanas. Imagine an island less than a half mile long, covered with white coral sand, tropical flowers, and coconut palms, surrounded by warm, crystal clear water, enveloped in coral reefs that wrap more than half way around the island. Imagine snorkeling through barrier and patch reefs teeming with fish and marine organisms just steps away from the white sandy beach.
We couldn’t find a more perfect location if we tried! Located directly on the Belize Barrier Reef and surrounded by diverse mangrove islands, tidal seagrass flats, and pristine coral reefs teeming with marine life; whether you are a student, vacationer or adventurer, South Water Caye is the most idyllic place imaginable to expand your mind while in paradise.
In 1996, South Water Caye was added to a list of protected sites of “universal value to humanity,” by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They cited the reef ecosystems remarkable biological diversity and beauty, calling it an area “of great scientific value”. This outstanding natural system is host to offshore atolls, several hundred cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons, estuaries are a significant habitat for threatened such as the West Indian manatee and a variety of sea turtles. The government of Belize has also recognized the incredible beauty and biodiversity found in our pristine waters, designating South Water Caye a Marine Reserve, one of the largest reserves in Belize.
Marine Biology Field Station
Our island paradise is home to our marine field station where high schools, colleges and universities bring students to conduct research on the reefs as part of their study abroad program. Nestled among the lush grounds covered in coconut palms, hibiscus, bougainvillea and carpets of morning glory, this unique facility houses a classroom with an extensive research library, video projectors, white boards and scientific research equipment.
In collaboration with Boston University and the National Science Foundation, IZE has also added new marine lab. This lab consists of numerous recirculating salt water tanks, wet tables and microscopes. As guests of IZE you have an opportunity to sit in on one of the ongoing classrooms or spend time browsing the research library in search of the colorful coral or tropical fish you saw while out snorkeling or diving. We encourage all our guests to enrich their knowledge of this beautiful, diverse eco-system that the Belize Barrier Reef offers and experience more than just a vacation!
Our private cabanas are nestled in the mangroves on the eastern shoreline of the island to take advantage of the cooling trade winds. They are so close to the water’s edge that you will awaken to a view of the barrier reef and the sound of waves gently lapping the shore beneath you. Mornings and evenings can be spent swingingin your hammock on the secluded deck of your cabana or watching the sun come up over the reef.
Although our island paradise is completely off the grid, our cabanas have private bathrooms with hot water showers, making them perfect for families, singles, couples and honeymooners. This is not your ordinary vacation! Expect to leave with more than just a tan, you will gain a deeper understanding of complex ecosystems!
The northern wing of the octagon-shaped marine field station houses one of our student dormitories, with a second dormitory on the northern side of the property. Each dorm room features bunk beds, showers and access to bathroom facilities. Our dormitories are primarily used by schools or other specialty groups.
Just imagine the experience you can offer your students: the opportunity to live and sleep on a private island in one of the most magnificent ecosystems on the planet!
Dining and More
Just because you are staying on a remote island, don’t think you won’t be dining and exploring in style! From poached snapper with mustard sauce to coconut pie, our cooks have achieved the perfect balance of local cuisine and gourmet specialties. Be prepared to sit back and enjoy some of the freshest exotic seasonal fruits, freshly baked breads, and fresh local seafood. Located in the southern wing of the lodge, our large dining room at South Water Caye provides spectacular views of the Caribbean waters and Maya Mountains.
Here you’ll find two open air verandahs, a full service bar, and internet access. IZE’s sports center is equipped with kayaks, paddle boards, and beach volleyball equipment for guest use. The center also rents snorkel equipment. After your long day, toast marshmallows under a star-lit sky while watching a movie or video clips from your days of exploring the spectacular reef system at our “Theater Under the Stars” .
Reef: A leisurely drift snorkel adventure along Belize’s Great Barrier Reef. Colorful, healthy spur and groove coral formations, spotted eagle rays, turtles, tarpon & grouper may join you as you drift along taking in this spectacular reef.
Carrie Bow Caye: Take a guided tour around the Smithsonian’s research station. Carrie Bow Caye visits always finish with a shallow depth snorkel around the islands reef where wrasses, octopus and angelfish can regularly be found.
Third Cut of the Reef: This narrow channel location is where local deep water fish migrations funnel into the lagoon, large groupers, schools of horse-eyed jacks and more can be regularly spotted.
Twin Caye: A mangrove snorkel! A great opportunity to see seahorses, upside-down photosynthesizing jellyfish and maybe one of the gentle giant Manatee’s hanging out in seagrass!
Whale Shoal: In the middle of nowhere a picture perfect patch reef where you’re sure to see triggerfish, rock beauties, Creole wrasses, parrotfish and an assortment of angelfish. The coral gardens are also teeming with beauty from sea fans, large brain coral formations to stag horn coral!
The Aquarium: The name says it all! This shallow snorkel is delightfully abundant with colorful tropical fish and soft corals gardens.
Tobacco Cut: This deep channel cut through the great barrier reef will give you lots of opportunity to swim with the rays… sting rays, spotted eagle rays and sometimes even manta rays!
Night Snorkling: Right off the beach! The thrill and excitement of night snorkeling make for a great adventure not to mention the amazing things you will see! Many creatures are out feeding at night that are not around during the day. Octopus, shrimp and many forms of coral that most of the time are closed up during the day are all magnificent during the night!
Your adventure awaits you!
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