Snorkeling Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Watch the short video above to see some of my Belize snorkeling action. Or watch it on YouTube here.
Even though I’m a scuba diver one of the funnest and most memorable things I did on my trip to Belize was snorkeling. The first half of the trip I stayed on Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. We spent a 5 hours snorkeling just a few miles from our hotel. The tour operator took us on a boat filled with people and we headed about 20 or so minutes away to a protected marine reserve called Hol Chan (translated in Mayan language it means little channel) and a second site called Shark Ray Alley. These are the two most popular snorkeling destinations in Belize and it was fairly crowded with other boats and groups of snorkelers.
Once we arrived and the guide told us to hop in everyone else on the boat was hesitating, most of them were inexperienced and after all the ocean can be intimidating. I strapped my fins on and took the lead plunging into the warm water. It was shallow and crystal clear, minus the sand I managed to kick up all over the place jumping in. At first all I could see were a few small fish, but the further our group paddled along the better it got.
I swear I’m not as pale as the pictures make me look it’s the water!
For those of you not familiar with Caribbean water, floating is pretty effortless and it was actually hard to dive below the surface to anything on the bottom. The island’s water is home to coral reefs, seagrass and of course sand, all of which we passed by while exploring. The seagrass attracts turtles, and these were my favorite thing to see.
Bigger sea life was around, but small fish were in much more abundance. Most of them don’t hold still very long but I did manage to get a few pictures.
I even found a grouper along the way (my favorite fish to eat.. they’re unbelievably tasty!)
I stayed behind as everyone else was boarding back onto the boat, already addicted to Belize’s amazing waters. I’m very lucky I did.. I hadn’t seen any rays the entire day and right then two passed directly underneath me!
I could have spent weeks on that island and never gotten bored. I was worried that the previous 2-days of diving would have made snorkeling boring by comparison. I was wrong! Snorkeling is one of the cheapest activities, and incredibly fun; even for divers.
Even more pictures from the trip in the gallery here.
Love your underwater photos. I haven’t dived for years but I do love to snorkel. I can see why you had a hard time leaving.
I’ll always love diving.. since the day I got certified I knew I would. Being restrained to the surface while snorkeling has its limits, but it was still a great time with so much sea life around.
It’s funny but I would rather snorkel than dive most days. The simplicity of just throwing on a mask and jumping in without having to do time and depth calculations or having to deal with air and equipment outweighs the extra depth in my mind.
I met so many divers that look at me like I’m nuts whenever I say that I rarely tell anyone anymore. 😉
I guess I’ve been lucky and have snorkeled in a lot of nice places over the years though. It might also be that I’ve gotten cheaper since we’ve had kids and I can’t bring myself to drop coin every time I want to swim with fish and turtles.
Nice pictures James. We’re still contemplating hitting Belize for a few weeks before leaving this area for Europe. Going to be doing a lot of moving around once we get to Spain though so not sure if we’re willing to bus it down to Belize or not. I think it’ll probably be a flip of the coin. If the kids were a little older and we could all dive (or at least snorkel) together I’m pretty sure we’d have already booked a place there.
Thanks for making me rethink my decision. I had just convinced myself it wasn’t worth the trouble. 😉
Can’t say I agree, I think diving has been much more fun but then again, I’ve always gone with the divemaster who did all time and depth calculating for us 🙂
If money was no object I’d chose diving over snorkeling any day but I still love both and am just happy to get in the water! Belize is definitely worth a visit if you feel like diving, but you do have Cozumel a 30 minute ferry ride away, and diving was amazing there too.