South Water Caye Marine Reserve, in southern Belize, is a unique mangrove/coral reef habitat and home to several endemic species including the Social Wrasse and the Maya Hamlet. The goal of this trip is to study the effects of stressors such as invasive lionfish and habitat loss on this remote area of the Mesoamerican barrier reef system, with a special focus on how these impacts are affecting species that are not found anywhere else in the Caribbean. Participants will work with local partners to conduct fish surveys as well as lionfish research and removals. In addition, other underwater survey methods will be utilized to gather data on this infrequently-studied area to determine how to best protect this unique marine ecosystem.

Trip Type: This is an exploratory, research-based trip. The trip will include components of our Fish Survey and Invasive Lionfish trips Click here to learn more about these projects. REEF volunteers who attend this trip will become actively engaged with a variety of survey methods to support the goals of the project. No prior experience is necessary, only enthusiasm!

Pricing: $2,520 per diver based on double occupancy.

Accommodations: Accommodations for this trip are provided by Laru Beya Resort (1 night on Belize mainland) and Pelican Beach Resort (6 nights at South Water Caye.) At Laru Beya Resort, rooms have either two double beds or one queen bed and are either garden view or ocean view, assigned based on bedding setups and availability. At Pelican Beach Resort, two room types are available: Brown Booby Roost (two double beds or one queen bed and a twin futon) or Pelican's Pouch (two double beds.)

Diving: This trip offers 6 days of 2-tank boat dives in the South Water Caye area of Belize, which is a marine reserve. The average water temperature in Belize during the time of the trip is 82-84 degrees Fahrenheit. Tanks, weights and weight belts are included in the trip package.

Price Includes: The trip package includes 7 nights of accommodation (1 night in Placencia on Belize mainland, 6 nights at Pelican Beach Resort in South Water Caye), 6 days of 2-tank boat dives, all meals (starting with dinner on Aug. 18 and ending with breakfast on Aug. 25), domestic flight from BZE to Placencia on Aug. 18 and return domestic flight from Dangriga to BZE on Aug. 25, all ground transfers in Belize, boat transfers to and from Pelican Beach Resort, marine park fees, tanks, weights.

REEF Program Fee: A REEF Program Fee of $300 per diver will be added to each package to cover the cost of the group leaders, seminar and REEF survey materials.

Additional Fees: The following costs are not included in the price paid to REEF - International flights to Belize City, optional Nitrox available for additional fee. Gratuities are not included and are at each individual's discretion. Insurance is not included, however REEF strongly recommends that each participant purchase adquate dive travel insurance to protect you from unforeseen circumstances. More information about dive travel insurance can be viewed here.

About the Trip Leaders: Lad Akins, REEF’s Director of Special Projects, is renowned as the leading expert on invasive species, specifically lionfish. He served as the Founding Executive Director of REEF and led the organization in that capacity for 16 years, helping to design and develop REEF’s widely recognized marine conservation programs. In 2005, he stepped down to focus his efforts solely on the lionfish invasion.

Peter A. Hughes is the Founder of the DivEncounters Alliance, a group of independent live-aboard dive operators, and a member of REEF’s Board of Directors. Peter is one of the diving world’s foremost live-aboard operators, having spent more than forty years in the diving industry. Peter received the DEMA Reaching Out Award for helping to evolve the liveaboard diving industry and subsequently joined the DEMA Hall of Fame in 2011.

How to Sign Up: To reserve your space or find out more, e-mail us at, or call us at 305-588-5869. A $500 deposit will be collected at the time of booking. Visit our Trip Policies page for more information on deposit and payment schedules.

How to Get There: Participants should arrange to fly into Philip F. Goldson International Airport in Belize City (airport code BZE) arriving on Aug. 18 and departing on Aug. 25. From BZE, domestic flights to Placenia will be arranged through REEF.

Transfers: All ground transfers after arriving in Belize City are pre-arranged and included in the trip package.


Saturday, Aug. 18: Participants fly into Belize City and connect on Tropic Air flight to Placencia. Check into Laru Beya Resort in Placencia. Dinner included.

Sunday, Aug. 19: Transfer from Placencia to Pelican Beach Resort in South Water Caye, Belize via boat. 2 tank dive trip upon arrival.

Monday, Aug. 20 - Friday, Aug. 24: At South Water Caye, 2 dives each day.

Saturday, Aug. 25: Breakfast at South Water Caye. Transfer from Pelican Beach Resort to Dangriga airstrip via boat. Tropic Air flight from Dangriga to Belize City. Depart Belize City. Flights from BZE may be booked for any time after 11am.