Hol Chan Marine Reserve is one of the top snorkeling destinations in Belize, and once you take a dip in the water, you’ll understand why. Home to turtles, manatees, nurse sharks and vibrant coral the water is warm and crystal clear. When visiting Belize, no trip is complete without a visit to the Belize Barrier reef – the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere.
HOL CHAN MARINE RESERVE
When visiting Caye Caulker, you’ll find several tour companies offering day trips from 10:30 am – 3:30 pm to Hol Chan, Shark Ray Alley and a few other sites for $130- $140 Belize dollars ($65 US.) Most tours include lunch.
After a 45-minute ride on a tiny boat, we arrived at our first snorkeling stop, a very shallow site with colorful coral, seagrass, mangroves, and turtles. Our next stop was Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where you’ll see stingrays, beautiful purple coral and plenty of tourist boats. Our two guides and captain did a great job of taking us a bit further away from all the tourists.
The next stop was Shark Ray Alley, my favorite stop of the day, where we saw about ten nurse sharks of all different sizes and also spotted a few stingrays and turtles. Each stop was better than the previous one, and there was plenty of time to soak in the underwater magic.
By the middle of our trip, the clouds started to cover any patch of blue sky and shortly after it began to rain. We continued to Coral Gardens, a site with a shipwreck and stopped to see tarpons – air-breathing fish. Nobody got off the boat here, but a woman got bit after sticking her hand in the water. Her hand was bleeding but she didn’t seem too bothered by it.
There is a stop to see manatees, but we didn’t get off the boat since it was pouring rain and it wasn’t the season when they were around.
Bring a rash guard or wetsuit top since you’ll be getting in and out of the water several times. Don’t forget to bring a jacket since it does get cold when you are in your bathing suit in the rain.
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