Belize is located in the southeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. The northern coast of Belize consists of a shallow shelf behind the barrier reef. This shelf is narrow and contains small patch reefs and mud banks.
The southern shelf off mainland Belize remains about 15 miles wide (22 km) till Placencia, where it widens to around 25 miles (40km) as shown in the satellite image at left.
Laughing Bird Faro is located in the middle of the widest part of the shelf about 14 miles (23 km) from Placencia. The faro is a ringed reef consisting of an outer rim that encloses an inner lagoon and inner reefs.
Laughing Bird is an excellent example of a faro. The faro is 5.5 miles (8.8km) long and 1.6 miles (2.5km) in width at the widest point. This type of feature is also called a "rhomboid shoal" and is built by living reef organisms.
The windward (East) rim of the faro is within a few feet of the surface in most places and awash in others. Laughing Bird Caye occuppies a small area on the southeast side. The leeward side is also generally a few feet or more below sealevel. The floor of the enclosed lagoon is about 23 feet deep maximum with many pinnacles rising to the surface.
The park itself is 1.414 acres of land, sea and reef. The initial legislation 1991 declared only the island itself as national park. With the designation of the Belize Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site, there is movement underway to declared the entire Laughing Bird Faro as belonging to the Laughing Bird Caye National Park.