Glover's Reef Atoll, Belize

What is an Atoll? Vacation in Belize at Belize's Most Remote Coral Reef

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Home > Belize Private Island > Glovers Atoll


Where is Glover's Reef?

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Related blog post: Glovers Reef now in full detail on Google Earth

Related blog post: Glover’s Reef Species Guides just published

Satellite image: Belize

The Atolls of Belize

Slickrock owns an island at Glover's Reef, called Long Caye. Our private island is located on the outer reef of Glover's Reef Atoll.


Glover's Reef is one of only four atolls found in our hemisphere, which alone makes it an unusual and special place to explore.


Three of the four atolls in the western hemisphere can be found in Belize country waters (the fourth atoll, Banco Chinchorro, lies just north in Mexican waters). Glover's Reef is a protected Marine Reserve, visit the Glover's Reef Marine Reserve website.






Related blog post: Belize protects its reef fish species


In the photo above, the mainland is the large green mass on the left, the Barrier Reef is the light- colored line that parallels the coastline. Beyond the Barrier Reef lie the three atolls of Belize, Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, and, the most remote of all, Glover's Reef.


The four islands of Glover's Reef Atoll

What Exactly is an Atoll?

An atoll is a ring of coral that originally grew completely around the shoreline of an island, and which continued to grow upward on top of itself as the island subsided or eroded away. The ring reef we see today at Glover's Reef outlines the shoreline of an ancient island that once existed at this location. This island was exactly the size and shape of present day Glover's Reef Atoll, today an oval ring of coral 54 miles in circumference surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.

Above are the four islands of Glover's Reef. Starting from the bottom island:

Northeast Caye, Long Caye, Middle Caye, and Southwest Caye.


The formation of an atoll.


One can observe the various stages of this geologic process on islands and atolls found in the Pacific. The Hawaiian Islands can be considered relatively "young" islands, with coral reefs growing around their perimeters very close to the shoreline. A "mid-stage" atoll would be represented by Tahiti, with a central island surrounded by a ring reef several miles offshore, sheltering a large shallow lagoon between the reef and the island. Examples of "mature" atolls can be seen among many island groups in the Pacific such as Bora Bora where slender circles of coral surround huge lagoons full of coral formations but with few, if any, central islands remaining. Small islands of sand and rubble, such as those found at Glover's Reef, are commonly situated on the edges of these atolls.


Related blog post: Atoll or Island... what is it?

Related blog post: Memories of Hurricane Mitch


Map of Glover's Reef



Within this necklace of coral, you'll find more than 700 pristine patch reefs brimming with the richest variety of marine life in the Caribbean - from the delicate fan coral and spiny urchin to the colorful stoplight parrot fish and elegant southern sting ray. Snorkelers and divers alike are enchanted by Crossection of southern Belizethe spectrum of sea life here, whether they're wading just off shore or exploring the depths along The Wall, a world-class dive site off the back of Long Caye.



One reason The Wall is so spectacular is that it is literally an underwater cliff, 3000 feet tall, reaching within 35 feet of the surface. This shallow reef-crest begins within swimming distance of our shore.


Southern Sting Ray


This spectacular dive site exemplifies the pristine nature of diving at Glover's Reef. In recognition of the outstanding natural quality of Glover's ecosystem, it has been designated a National Marine Reserve and in 1997 was named a World Heritage Site.


Related blog post: 60 Minutes visits healthy Cuban reef, very similar to Glover's Reef


For a map of our private island visit our Long Caye at Glovers Reef page. For a list of general Belize facts please visit our Belize page.


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Related blog post: Glover’s Reef video and article in the New York Times



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