Six hundred square kilometres of the bay and coast north of Punta Gorda are now protected as the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, partly to safeguard the many manatees living and breeding there. The main reef has started to break up here, leaving several clusters of islands, each surrounded by a small independent reef. Hundreds of these tiny islands lie in the mouth of a large bay, whose shoreline is a maze of mangrove swamps.
North of Punta Gorda are the Snake Cayes, idyllic and uninhabited Caribbean islands that draw a small number of visitors for their stunning beaches. Further out in the Gulf of Honduras are the Sapodilla Cayes, now a marine reserve (Bz$20 entrance fee), of which the largest caye, Hunting Caye, is frequented by Guatemalan as well as Belizean day-trippers; though most visitors simply choose to relax on the beach, the reef, located only a few hundred metres offshore, provides excellent opportunities for snorkellers.
Some of these islands already have accommodation, and more resorts are planned, though at present the cayes and reserve receive relatively few foreign visitors and are fascinating to explore on a day-trip from Punta Gorda.