Venezuela ruined mangroves for me forever. Over a decade ago, I spent an afternoon silently gliding through a magnificent mangrove forest on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.
Since then I have visited mangrove forests in East Africa, Mexico, and Mozambique but nothing has come close to living up to this first experience that spoiled me forever in Venezuela. I’ve done my research and spoken with experts in a quest to find an even more amazing Caribbean mangrove adventure than my magical experience years ago.
But why should we care about mangroves?
Mangroves provide a nursery habitat for marine life, protect land during hurricanes and tsunamis, and help improve coastal water quality by acting as a natural filter. And besides, they are beautiful and offer a great opportunity to check out marine life from a different perspective than snorkeling or diving.
Of the sixty-odd species of Mangrove worldwide, the four most common mangrove species found in the Caribbean are black, red and white. This beautiful blog post from Amble Resorts (eco-friendly boutique resorts in Panama and Belize) goes into more detail on these Mangrove species.
Increasingly, Caribbean mangrove systems are protected by their respective local and central governments with help from charitable donations and other local organizations, such as tourism associations. Conservation combined with education of local communities and travelers is key to sustaining these important ecosystems.
Sadly, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and reports from other conservation organizations worldwide , mangroves all over the world are in serious danger.
When traveling to one of these mangrove hot-spots below, book an eco-friendly excursion and show your support for preserving these amazing natural ecosystems that do so much to help keep the Caribbean beautiful.
Roatan: Many years ago in Roatan canals were dug to connect the harbors and bays so small boats could commute back and forth safely without going outside the reef. Today, this is one of the richest Mangrove ecosystems in the world. Here authentic Cayucos (small motorized rowboats or canoes) snake through the tight canals while you observe the birds, sea life and nature all around.
I like Roatan Sun Splash Tours, a local company offering a range of excursions including the mangrove experience. Questions about Roatan in general? Connect with Roatan Fans, a fund group who is active on Twitter and super knowledgable about Roatan .
Bonaire: The mangrove forest of Lac Bay in Bonaire is one of the best-preserved mangrove forests in the Caribbean. While exploring this mangrove forest, you can actually get out of the boat and snorkel in the mangrove channel. The Mangrove Info Center are the ones to contact in Bonaire. Book your tour with them and enjoy their solar-powered boat fleet!
Belize: The mangrove forests here are associated with the magnificant 220 km barrier reef and is interlinked with those in Mexico and Honduras. Here in Belize, you have the opportunity to also spot matanee’s while exploring the mangrove forests. Book a five hour adventure to the mangrove forests of Swallow Caye near Belize City with Tour Belize or a mangrove snorkeling excursion to Twin Cays with Island Expeditions.
Puerto Rico: Most tours of Puerto Rico’s nine individual mangrove forests are done by kayak, but there are also some unique ways to visit including on horseback! Here are four great companies to select from when booking your tour in Puerto Rico.
Where else in Mexico or the Caribbean have you done a great Mangrove tour?