Snorkeling Ambergris Caye Belize

Ambergris Caye Belize is situated on the largest Barrier reef system in the western hemisphere which runs 175 miles,

Photo by Tanya Burnett Palmer

the length of the country of Belize.

This offers the visitor to Belize and Ambergris Caye some of the very best diving and snorkeling available in the Caribbean.

This small article will give you in insight to some of the very best snorkeling spots located just off the coast of Ambergris Caye.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve – The Cut

Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a 7.5 square mile protected area and offers some of the very best snorkeling in the world.

Hol Chan means break in the reef and this is the first spot we will focus on. Probably the most popular snorkeling spot off Ambergris Caye is the Cut at Hol Chan’s Marine Reserve; it is a natural channel through the reef and starts off in just 3ft of water.

Access to Hol Chan is by a 15 minute boat ride out to the reef and you will tie up on established mooring buoys which are placed there to avoid any anchor damage to this protected area.

As your boat ties up, the water is crystal clear and you will see huge shoals of fish swim under the boat hoping to be

tossed a snack from the dive guide. As you enter the water you will be met by a prolific array of bright colored corals and big shoals of Snappers and some huge Grouper fish.

Snorkeling out into the channel you will have the chance to see beautiful corals and maybe an elegant Eagle ray swimming through the channel. The site is also well known for frequent sightings of huge Tarpon, green Moray Eels and even Turtles and Nurse Sharks.

Since this is a protected area there is a government Park ranger stationed in a boat at Hol Chan and they collect $10.00 USD per visitor which goes toward the continued protection of this stunning snorkel and dive site.

A strong current can sometime be associated with Hol Chan so be sure to listen to your tour guide for safety information.

Shark Ray Alley Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Shark Ray Alley is a very unique snorkeling site found nowhere else in the world.

Located just a kilometer further south of the main Hol Chan site and in just 8ft of water this site is famous for the

resident Nurse Sharks and Stingrays that frequent the area.

Many years ago before Shark Ray Alley was known to the masses I had the pleasure to taking Jean Michel Cousteau to visit Shark Ray Alley and show him this unique site. Jean Michel said that they are all juvenile females and are most likely using the area as a breeding ground.

The site is unique because in addition to the Nurse Sharks you get to snorkel with Southern Stingrays as well and with them all swimming around you at the same time this is probably one of the most unique experiences you will ever have snorkeling.

In addition to all these great animal life experiences there are also some very nice patch corals that house a resident giant green Moray Eel

Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley should be top of your list to snorkel when you visit Ambergris Caye.

Trips depart daily in the morning at 9am and in the afternoon at 2pm and last around 2.5 to 3 hours.

It is always recommend doing the morning trip as the Sharks are fed and by the afternoon trips they are full and shark

sightings are less frequent.

Cost to Snorkel these 2 spots is around $35-$45 per person be sure to ask if the government fee is included or not.

Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens is located between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. This is a patch reef and has some beautiful corals and although the fish life is not as prolific as in the marine reserve you can still see some beautiful reef fish including Parrot fish, Hog fish, Fairy Bassets, and Moray Eels and the odd Nurse Shark and Lobsters.

Coral Gardens is usually included in the Catamaran trips or full day trips to Caye Caulker

Mexico Rocks

Mexico Rocks is located 6 miles North of San Pedro Ambergris Caye and it probably the 3rd most popular snorkel spot on Ambergris Caye.

A Patch Coral Reef located just inside of the main Barrier Reef the site has an excellent array of Corals and small fish species. Since this site is not in a marine reserve the fish life is small but very pretty and since the corals come right up to the surface it’s very colorful and an excellent easy snorkel site for all the family.

The site is located in around 8-10 ft of water and there is nowhere you can stand so be sure to ask for a flotation device if i

you are not comfortable with that.

Trips to Mexico Rocks depart daily at 9am and 2pm and cost around $40 for a 3 hour trip

There are many other spots to snorkel off the coast of Ambergris Caye and most resorts offer the use of Kayaks which you can use to paddle out to the reef and d some snorkeling yourself, just be sure to let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you back.