Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
4.5
About
This beautiful nature reserve is in an area world famous for its excellent diving.
Meets animal welfare guidelines
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  • sexystronglife
    16 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Jonathan at Belize Pro Dive Center
    Gorgeous. The Belize Pro Dive Center next to the Alaia, Belize Hotel was exceptional. Big applause to Jonathan on the dive team. My first time. Was totally taken care of throughout the snorkel… made sure my mask was adjusted during the dive and was clearly, well educated on the local fish. I can’t say enough. They have much to be proud of.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 29, 2023
  • Wunderlust2020
    20 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley Tour at Ambergris Caye, Belize. Tuff E Nuff guide Rahul
    Our family tour of Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley was pleasantly enhanced by our Tuff E Nuff guide, Rahul! His emphasis on safety was mirrored by his expressed interest in teaching the history of the remarkeable area and the countless fish species names and habitat. The experience exceeded our expectations in large part due to Rahul.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written November 27, 2023
  • Jrtm2014
    Seattle, Washington387 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    30 year comparison
    This is a beautiful place. I was here 30 years ago. It has not changed for the better. Yet, the country is trying hard to protect the reef. It is in far better condition than Tahiti (which is very bleached). I brought my kids (college age) because these places may disappear. It is still beautiful and lots of life. Worth the trip. Memories of diving years ago made me come back. Great diving and snorkeling.
    Visited December 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written December 27, 2023
  • Allyn V
    Texas6 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful but can be a challenging swim depending on the weather!
    Our tour operator was great! Very friendly and knowledgeable however only giving the location a 4 out of 5 to make a special point to all considering visiting to pay attention to the surf, wind, current forecasts. It was quite a rough day when we were out and it would have been quite a difficult swim for kids or anyone who isn't comfortable swimming.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written March 26, 2024
  • subnivean
    Kelowna, Canada204 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great snorkelling experience as part of tour.
    Snorkelled as part of our tour from Reef Adventures. Lost of boats and you each operator has to get their spot from the Marine Reserve office on a boat off to the side. The tides can be quite strong, but nothing serious for a good swimmer. Lots of marine wildlife to see.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written March 26, 2024
  • Sal D
    21 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great scuba diving
    There were fish everywhere I turned!! It was incredible. Also saw sharks, sting rays, a turtle, lots of coral. You have to go diving here! It was warm, even on a day without the best visibility I saw so many amazing things.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written March 30, 2024
  • travelbug
    Pensacola, Florida1,013 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Hol Chan is beautiful Carlos snorkeling tours took us there by catamaran from caye caulker
    My husband and I had a great day out with Carlos snorkeling on caye caulker. If you are on the island you can go to their office and pay $20 deposit to reserve your tour. Prior to arriving in Belize I had communicated that we would like to join a tour and their email response is fast. We had a chicken and rice lunch. I brought my own snorkel and mask but they provide you with great gear. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have sea sickness on the large catamaran because I had a scopolamine patch on but still got very sick. I jumped in the water anyway and managed to enjoy the day between “episodes”. Anyway just be aware of that. The sharks were awesome. So bummed we didn’t see any turtles. The coral was brilliant! Barracuda and rays! I recommend booking with Carlos tours!
    Visited April 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written April 13, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles7,083 reviews
Excellent
5,687
Very good
1,037
Average
284
Poor
59
Terrible
16

Anish S
Chicago, IL773 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
While in Belize, this is certainly one of the must do considering the 2nd largest barrier reef is there. You will also find a lot of tour options but the unfortunate part is that all tours take you to the same spot. So when you get to the first stop where you snorkel, you are surrounded by many other tour boats and lots of people. To be fair, it doesn't feel crowded when you are snorkeling and looking around, but you certainly do see the people and have to be careful where you are going as you could run in to others.
I was also underwhelmed by the underwater scenery. While it's certainly cool to see fishes living in their natural habitat and the colors of the corals, we saw a lot more variety of fishes and corals when we did a similar tour in bora bora. unfortunately for us, having done snorkeling there, we compared our experience to that, hence the 3 stars as this did not blow us away.
After spending about 30 minutes snorkeling, you are then taken to the shark valley where you can see a lot of sharks in water. Unfortunately, this is a man made 'exhibit', meaning the sharks are now used to being fed in the area, hence they are always there. Every tour boat carries shark food and they dump that in a bucket full of holes so that they can drag the bucket in the water, thus allowing the sharks to smell and crowd the boat. You are given the option to 'swim' with the sharks, meaning you can snorkel on the other side of the boat, approximately 10 to 20 feet away. if you are scared, you can stay on the boat and watch the sharks. If you have a good tour guide, he/she will also show you how you can touch the shark w/o risking your hand/life. While it's cool to see the sharks up close, it's a bit bothersome that this is man made and the sharks have now become dependent on being fed by humans. Again, you will find other tour guides here but the boats do stay a bit further away to allow sharks to concentrate on one boat. You hang out in the area for 30 minutes and then are taken back to dock. The whole tour lasts about hour and halfish with those two stops.
Overall it was fun but i wish there were less tour guides/boats as the # of boats obviously creates more pollution, thus destroying the corals. I would recommend you take the tour if you don't plan on visiting places like bora bora where you there isn't such a high tour crowd.
Written February 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marika A
44 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Couples
We stayed in Caye Caulker. We went on a snorkeling excursion and one of the stop was Hol Chan Marine reserve, I was so excited to go and see what's considered the second best barrier reef.I honestly wouldn't recommend it to people who already saw a barrier reef anywhere else.
First of all the water was not really clean , while we were snorkeling we had to avoid a bunch of rubbish floating in the ocean (counting that you have to pay, you would expect it to be kept in a good condition).
Secondly there were a huge crowd of boats, apparently every tour goes there around the same time and it is over crowded (you can barely see where your tour guide is). And Thirdly you cannot go anywhere else to explore the barrier (you can only stay in that area).
And fish wise, we didn't see anything special, Only if you dive probably you can see more. The corals looked like they were all dead, and when asked how come they had no colour, the explanation was that probably was because of the the weather and that they don't know when but they would be back healed.
Really disappointed from the experience.
Written December 28, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DebOChicago_IL
Chicago, IL286 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019 • Couples
If you like snorkeling, don’t miss snorkeling here. The beauty of the coral and the fish, and the sheer abundance of the fish, are just thrilling. Snorkeling in a group with a guide is not our favorite (we prefer to be a bit more independent) but the guides are knowledgeable and we understand the need to keep tabs on folks to preserve the reef.
Written February 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

momof2wildchilds
Denver, CO741 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2020
We saw several stingrays one did a full on ballet for us in the seas above us as we hovered near the floor. The channel is shallow only about 25 ft deep. We saw lobsters a plenty, sting rays, eels and even a juvenile hammerhead shark when we were boarding the boat to head back to our hotel for the night. Only wish we had seen an octopus! But wonderful night dive with plenty of hunting fish and florals.
Written November 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tylerca4
Chicago, IL29 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021 • Couples
Hol Chan lived up to all of the hype. We snorkeled here on one of our days while staying on Ambergris Caye. It is so close to any resort, only a 5-15 min boat ride depending on where you are staying. You get to see all kinds of wildlife as well as coral. Whether you have never been snorkeling or are a diver this is worth checking out.
Written May 19, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Erin
7 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2021
The snorkeling at Hol Chan is very pretty, but due to being among the most popular tour sites, is also crowded. It seems that many tours take the "guided tour" route which makes for a less than leisurely snorkeling experience where you have to keep up with your guide and not get mixed into other groups. If you have the chance to go during off hours or with a private tour, I would recommend it. The snorkeling is still beautiful, but there are many other places around the island, as well.
Written February 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MAsunny12
Salt Lake City, UT26 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
I just got back from Hol Chan with my family including 11 year old and 7 year old. Snorkeling was amazing! We took a private boat with a guide that I highly recommend doing, they know the water and currents and were able to take us away from the crowd and find other areas to snorkel. Even when you are in the main area of Hol Chan with other people it was totally fine, not overly crowded. Shark Ray Alley was my favorite, felt like you were in an aquarium!
Written June 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tanya E
Houston, TX9 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
It feels like all the fish know this is a safe place, they are all here and on spectacular view. do not miss an opportunity to visit this site, pay attention to your guides, you will have a most memorable time and be very pleased with yourself for having seen all this bounty and Beauty. Bring someone to share it with or even on your own, it's worth it.
Written June 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lisa C
Lee, NH14 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022
It has good snorkeling but when we went it was so crowded. The tour didn't last very long visiting and felt rushed cause there was so many people. We also went to mexico rocks and I liked it a lot better. There was no on there and we were not forced to stay and a close knit bunch.
Written May 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

First Aboard
New York City, NY67 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021 • Solo
As part of my snorkeling tour to the reserve, I saw turtles, different types of fish- snappers, barracudas, eels, spotted eagle rays, and many others. It was amazing to see the rich marine life and biodiversity of the area. Both the soft and hard corals were beautiful and plentiful. The area is not too deep for beginners and the tide is manageable. A well-kept and protected area. There are reserve rangers/agents that monitor entry to the area to maintain its protection from fishing and other harmful activities that can affect the corals and sea life. A great place to visit.
Written May 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Hol Chan Marine Reserve - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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