Gulf of Honduras

The Gulf or Bay of Honduras is a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea, indenting the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. From north to south, it runs for approximately 200 km (125 miles) from Dangriga, Belize, to La Ceiba, Honduras.

The Gulf of Honduras is shown in the center-right
The Gulf of Honduras is shown in the center of this map

The inner Gulf of Honduras is lined by the Belize Barrier Reef which forms the southern part of the 900 km (600 mile) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest coral reef system in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef includes a number of small islands, called cays, and collectively known as the Pelican Cays.[1]

The Gulf of Honduras is marked by complex dynamics of coastal and open waters, and ocean currents, which have produced a very diverse and unique ecosystem with a wide variety of coastal marine waters, including coastline estuaries, barrier beaches, lagoons, intertidal salt marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, keys and barrier reefs.[2]

The gulf receives the runoff from the watersheds of 12 rivers with an estimated discharge of 1,232,000 litres (approx. 300,000 gallons) per second.[3] These rivers include the Moho, Sarstún, Río Dulce, Motagua, and Ulúa. Increased volumes of sediments drained in the Gulf of Honduras pose a threat to its marine ecosystem.[3]

Tourists are often taken on boat trips to the Pelican Cays, notably Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye.

In 1961 Hurricane Hattie swept across the Gulf of Honduras, destroying buildings in Belize.

The infamous pirate Blackbeard spent the winter of 1717–1718 harassing shipping boats sailing to and from the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico and traversing the Bay of Honduras.[4] In April 1718, at Turneffe Atoll, Blackbeard captured the logwood cutting sloop Adventure and forced its captain, David Herriot, to join him. Blackbeard then made Israel Hands captain of the Adventure and began sailing for North Carolina.[5]


  1. ^ "Gulf of Honduras | gulf, Caribbean Sea". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  2. ^ Pollution Control Program in the Gulf of Honduras. "Environmental Protection and Maritime Transport" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
  3. ^ a b Thattai, Deeptha; Björn Kjerfve; W. D. Heyman (December 2003). "Hydrometeorology and Variability of Water Discharge and Sediment Load in the Inner Gulf of Honduras, Western Caribbean". Journal of Hydrometeorology. 4 (6): 985–995. doi:10.1175/1525-7541(2003)004<0985:HAVOWD>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  4. ^ Woodard, Colin. "A Blackbeard mystery solved". Republic of Pirates Blog. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  5. ^ Byrd Downey, Cristopher (22 May 2012). Stede Bonnet: Charleston's Gentleman Pirate. The History Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-1609495404. Retrieved 25 March 2016.

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Coordinates: 16°09′05″N 88°15′06″W / 16.1514°N 88.2517°W / 16.1514; -88.2517