Laughing Bird Caye National Park is one of the gems in a string of pearls that is the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. It is a beautiful Belizean isle situated on the western side of the Victoria Channel, only 11 miles off the coast from Placencia Village in the Stann Creek District of Belize.
A mini-atoll with a white sandy beach and its own miniature reef surrounding a natural swimming pool, is a snorkeler's heaven, and a few minutes by boat from the Belize Reef. It's a favorite stopover for reef kayakers and a great place to stop for a picnic or even camp overnight.
This long narrow isle stands on an elongated ridge of reef known as a faro. A faro is an angular atoll on a continental shelf, also known as a shelf atoll. Like an atoll, a faro is steep sided and encloses a central lagoon. The Laughing Bird Faro is separated from the mainland, the barrier reef and other cayes by deep channels on all sides.
Due to the uniqueness of the Caye, the Faro, and the abundant and diverse marine habitats and life, the Caye was declared a protected area in 1981 under the National Parks System Act. On 21 December, 1991, Laughing Bird Caye National Park was declared. Finally, in 1996 the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was inscribed on the World Heritage List with Laughing Bird Caye National Park designated as one of the premiere protected areas within the World Heritage Site.
The uniqueness of this structure contributes to both the abundance and variety of coral habitats and marine life. The Caye gets its name from the Laughing Gull (Larus artricilla). This bird once used to breed on the Caye, but because of growing human presence, the colonies have moved to nearby undisturbed cayes for breeding.
The island is covered with coconut trees and scattered coastal mangroves. Seven plant species have been recorded on the island:
*Coconut tree - Cocos nucifera
*Spider Lily - Hymenocallis littorallis
*Seaside Purslane - Sesuvium portulacastrum Euphorbia sp.
*Red mangrove - Rhizophora mangle
*Morning Glory - Ipomoea sp.
*Black mangrove - Avicennia germinans