Managed by the NGO nonprofit Southern Environmental Association (a.k.a. SEA Belize, formerly Friends of Nature, office near Placencia Village dock, tel. 501/523-3377, www.friendsofnaturebelize.org ), Laughing Bird Caye National Park is an important protected area encompassing over 10,000 acres of sea; it’s a popular day trip from Placencia . Swaying palms, small beautiful beaches, an absence of biting bugs, shallow sandy swimming areas, and interesting snorkeling and diving all make this a must-see.
This particular kind of caye is referred to as a faro, and the arms on each end make a kind of enclosure around a lagoon area on the leeward side. In this way, the island acts much like a mini-atoll. That’s good news for those wishing to dive the eastern side of the island. You’ll find a lot of elkhorn coral and fish life. Grunts, damselfish, parrot fish, houndfish, bonefish, and even rays and nurse sharks are to be found here.
This site was designated in December 1991. The reserve is visited regularly, mostly by researchers and tourists carried out by tour operators from Placencia for picnics, snorkeling, and diving. Previously, the reserve was used for overnight camping, but no longer because of the lack of toilet or other waste disposal facilities. Some mooring buoys have been installed to prevent anchor damage to the surrounding reef. Private yachts and sea kayaks also use the site regularly. There is one trail through the center of the caye.
SEA Belize also manages the Sapodilla Cayes, Placencia Lagoon, and Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, a famous whale shark site, where they plan to build a resource center for fishers and tour guides.