Matachica Blog

Reef and Rainforest


Belize is known for its diversity in both – culture & landscape. Islands to the east such as Ambergris Caye, Glover’s Reef and Turneffe Islands are part of the county’s territory and make up the Belize Barrier Reef. The longest reef in the western hemisphere, with a length of approximately 190 miles, and the world’s largest living reef. It is the second longest reef in the world, behind the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The sounds of waves crashing over the reef can be heard and enjoyed from Matachica, and is just a short, exhilarating kayak paddle away from the main dock. A world famous scuba diving and snorkeling destination, described as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies” by Charles Darwin in 1842. 

The Belize Barrier Reef is inhabited by a diverse ecosystem of various species of aquatic flora and fauna, and is protected by the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Matachica offers its guests complimentary snorkel gear to explore the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, where you will encounter the amazing underwater world and its astonishing marine life. Surround yourself with shoals of fishes, who curiously greet and welcome visitors to their home, the reef. Sea turtles of various sizes are a favorite sighting, as they swim magnificently to the surface for a breath of fresh air, and gracefully sink back down for a snack. Manta Rays, Nurse Sharks, Manatees and dolphins can also be seen, making this experience an unforgettable one for the story books. 

From the reef of the Caribbean Sea, we move inland, where one finds Belize’s most unexplored wilderness. More than half of the country consists of subtropical rainforest, home to exotic wildlife and an abundance of plants and trees, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. Gaia Riverlodge is located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, a nature reserve in the Cayo District. The lodge and its surroundings are home to some of Belize’s best waterfalls and natural swimming pools. Deep within the nature reserve is the famous Thousand Foot Falls, the highest waterfall in all of Central America. The pine forest is perfect for outdoor activities such as birding, hiking and zip lining. As you dive deeper into the rainforest you will reach the Caracol Maya archaeological site, one of the most important political centers during the time of the Maya, and the largest in Belize. 

The Mountain Pine Ridge was established in 1944, to protect and manage the country’s native pine forest, which is unlike any other forest of Belize. Hunting in the reserve was banned in 1978, for conservation purposes and the protection of wildlife such as jaguars and Belize’s own national animal, the Baird’s Tapir. The landscape features granite hills, flowing waterfalls and a collection of ancient limestone cave systems. At Barton Creek, a large river cave extends up to 4.5 miles, and it is yet to be fully explored. The Pine Ridge Forest is one of the most popular and unique destinations throughout the entire country, packed with fascinating history and adventure activities for the thrill seekers. 

Complimentary mountain bikes are offered at Gaia Riverlodge, allowing guests to explore the nearby attractions such as Big Rock Falls, or just a scenic evening ride through the pines. The main road leading towards the lodge, and further to Caracol, has been re-built which brought convenience and saved time to one’s journey.

Our Reef and Rainforest jams both unique experiences in one package, allowing you to experience the dense pine forest and the vibrantly colored barrier reef. Explore the Caribbean and the Pine Forest with our highly experienced and certified guides, for a one of a kind Belizean experience. Three days of jungle exploration and four days of sandy beaches makes for the perfect adventurous vacation. Explore Belize’s beauty in abundance with us, at Matachica Resort & Spa and Gaia Riverlodge. Get into those snorkel masks and lace up those hiking boots, for a truly spectacular experience exploring the best of both worlds with this unique package -Reef and Rainforest!