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Why is Ambergris Caye a “Caye” and Not an “Island”?

You’ve heard us talk quite a bit about Ambergris Caye, the site of our 74-acre luxury eco-resort development property in Belize. So before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: What exactly is a caye, and why is Ambergris a “caye” (also known as a cay or a key) and not an “island”?

Ambergris Caye is completely surrounded by water – if only because the Bacalar Chico, a 1500-year-old hand-dug Mayan canal, separates it from the rest of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The reason Ambergris is a caye and not an island, then, goes back to how it formed in the first place.

By definition, an island’s origins are tectonic – that is to say, they’re either formed by volcanic activity, or they’re part of a continental plate that floats on top of the Earth’s mantle.

A caye, on the other hand, is a low-elevation, sandy promontory that forms on the surface of a coral reef. As ocean currents move across the surface of a reef, sediment. This sediment, comprised mainly of animal and vegetal remains, is gradually fertilized by manure and becomes soil, which eventually gives rise to new vegetation. Over time, this vegetation can become quite complex.

The Ambergris Caye resort development property for sale as part of our real estate offering in Belize, for example, is located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its diverse flora and fauna. It’s also on the doorstep of the Belize Barrier Reef, which beckons visitors with unparalleled aquatic adventures and which also, incidentally, gave birth to the property itself.

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