Belize's newest protected marine area, Turneffe Atoll, is the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Americas. At 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, the area is alive with coral, fish and large rays, making it a prime destination for diving, snorkeling and catch-and-release sport fishing. It was only in 2012 that environmental groups succeeded in protecting the 131,690-hectare area now dubbed the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, and the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association in Belize City manages it.
The atoll is dominated by mangrove islands, the nurseries on which almost all marine life depends to ensure juvenile protection and biological productivity. Although the atoll is best known for its walls, there are also many shallow sea gardens and bright sand flats inside the reef that are excellent sites for novice divers and snorkelers. If you plan on going ashore, bring insect repellent.