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Visitor’s Guide to Snorkeling Belize's Barrier Reef

By Aimee from One Chance Travel 7/8/2019 4 minutes


There aren’t many places in the world where you can jump off a boat 30 minutes from shore and swim with stingrays, turtles, nurse sharks, and dozens of schools of colorful fish. The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the best places to snorkel in the world because of the crystal-clear water and thriving coral.

My name is Aimee and I’m a YouTuber and blogger from One Chance Travel. I visited Belize in 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the tiny island of Caye Caulker. This little slice of paradise serves up Caribbean island vibes year-long! I want to share my snorkeling experience with you and give you the right information on how you can swim with wild turtles and fish during your trip to Belize. Read on for more info on snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef!

Snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef - Caye Caulker
Snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef - Caye Caulker

What’s the Belize Barrier Reef?

The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of 7 coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the second biggest reef in the world after Australia, and much of it is still alive and thriving thanks to the area being protected.

The Reef goes all the way from Mexico at the north end to Guatemala at the south end. It spans 185 miles of Belize coastline over 7 key marine reserve zones and over 400 marine cayes.

What kind of animals will I see at the Belize Barrier Reef?

When you snorkel the Belize Barrie Reef, you can expect to see any of the following species:
  • West Indian manatee
  • Green, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead turtles
  • 500 species of fish such as tarpons
  • Stingrays
  • 65+ kinds of coral
  • Crustaceans, marine worms, and sponges
  • 247 types of marine flora

The best snorkeling sites in Belize

Most tour companies have already figured out the best snorkeling spots to go, but if you want to make sure you hit a certain location check out the popular choices below.
Snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef - Caye Caulker
Snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef - Caye Caulker

Belize snorkeling tours available

There are a variety of different tours available and most are open to anyone who can swim! You can choose from half-day (5 hours) and full-day tours (8 hours).

Book your tour online before you go to save time, hassle, and money. Tours leave from Caye Caulker, Belize City, Hopkins, San Pedro (Ambergris Caye), and Placencia.

Most tours include either lunch or a snack depending on their length. Snorkels and fins will be provided by your tour company. Prescription snorkels are also available.

Which tour is right for me?

When you are deciding on where to snorkel, there are a few things to consider. First, decide which area you will be staying in such as Belize City of Caye Caulker. Decide whether you want to take a full or half-day tour. Then find a tour group that’s heading to your chosen snorkel stops, and book online!

What to bring on the snorkeling tour

You’ve got your bathing suit, so what else do you need to go snorkeling? Here are a couple of other items you may want to bring:
  • A dry bag - this will keep your phone, towel
  • 2 quick-dry towels per person - one to cover you while riding in the boat, one to dry you off after being in the water
  • A change of clothes for after the tour
  • Sunscreen, at least SPF 50 (the sun is strong in Belize!)
  • An insulated water bottle you can refill on the boat
  • A waterproof camera like a GoPro & batteries
  • A hat that won’t blow away easily and sunglasses
Snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef - Caye Caulker
Snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef - Caye Caulker

What to expect on the tour

There is truly nothing like swimming through the crystal clear ocean water surrounded by marine life! It’s like something you would see on TV but there really are sea turtles swimming next to you to grab a breath of air, nurse sharks skimming by, and rays silently sliding across the ocean floor.

For me, swimming with turtles was an item on my bucket list that I got to cross off in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend snorkeling in Belize as there’s no place like it in the world with such alive coral, colorful fish, and elegant sea creatures!

For more information on Aimee’s experiences check out Belize: Islands to Jungles on YouTube.
Learn More
Tours/Activities
$
45
/ Person
Departs From:
Caye Caulker
Provider:
Enjoy a short Boat ride to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve where the beauty starts with the live reef and hundreds of Species of fishes. The tour is consist of 5 stops, The Shark and ... moreRay Alley where you will get to swim along with the sharks, The Coral Garden where u get to see the beauty of colorful colors and fishes, The Tarpons and Sea Horse and the South Channel.
$
100
/ Person
Departs From:
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)
 (1)
Provider:
This tour is an all day filled with lots of fun and adventure. We start off by snorkeling at The Caye Caulker Channel where you have chances of seeing the West Indian Manatee. After ... morefinishing off, we head to feed the tarpons at the cenote located behind the island of Caye Caulker. Over there, you will see schools of tarpon and you get the chance to feed them with sardines. After feeding the tarpons, we stop at the island for you to buy your lunch and walk a little. The rhythm of life there is very slow so there is no need for you to rush while shopping or simply just walking. After we leave the island, we then close off with the last snorkeling at Coral Garden. The cost for this trip is $100.00 USD for a person and a maximum of 4 persons is required to confirm the trip.
$
90
/ Person
Departs From:
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)
It’s an extraordinary full day experience! It’s been said and a lot of people know it, Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley features some of the most beautiful fishes and corals in Belize. ... moreDive centers from all over the country bring tourists to snorkel here.

After some hours of snorkeling, we head on to the quaint island of Caye Caulker just about 20 minutes from San Pedro Town. You will get the chance to meet the sociable people of this island, enjoy delicious seafood at a local restaurant on the beach for lunch, maybe relax a little at the famous Split while you sip on a Belikin or also shop around for gifts and souvenirs.

On our way back, maybe if we still have time, stop at a snorkeling spot near San Pedro Town for a quick dip onto the water before the day is over.
$
89
/ Adult
$
450
/ Group
Departs From:
Belize City
 (1)
Provider:
Hol Chan Marine Reserve is located off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. Mayan for '' little channel''. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is undoubtfully one of the most popular dive sites ... morein the Caribbean, and indeed in Belize. The entire reserve focuses on a cut through the reef ( called a Quebrada ) which is little more than 25 yards wide and 30 feet deep about 04 miles southeast of San Pedro. Hole Chan has burgeoned into a unique refuge, with vigorous coral formations and richness of marine life. Realizing the importance of the coral reef community off Ambergris Caye, Belize, the Government of Belize established the Hole chan Marine Reserve on May 02. 1987. Shark Ray Alley was officially declared Zone ''D'' of the Hole Chan Marine Reserve on August 31st,1999.

We will then head to the neighboring Shark Ray Alley, where you will snorkel or dive and be able to get up close and personal with ecstatic Nurse Sharks and Southern Stingray. When you arrive, you will see surface often bolling with rolling sharks and stingray as they compete for the scraps. these creatures have a great tolerance for divers and snorkelers. The rays, which have a 'wing-span' of two to four feet, swim directly towards the divers, mouths often turned up hoping for a handheld tad bit to be placed near their mouths. The docile Nurse sharks average four feet in length and can be a bit more aggressive than the stingrays.H ere you will feel the excitement and novelty of swimming with a large number of sharks and stingrays.
$
40
/ Person
Departs From:
Caye Caulker
Marine Reserve Snorkeling 40 USD per person Starts from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm / 2pm to 5 pm.

AuthorPicture

Aimee from One Chance Travel

Aimee Michelle is a twenty-something wanderer who started serving pizza at 15 to make enough money to go to her first international destination: Paris, France.  After Paris, everything else was history. Dallas & Aimee are a traveling couple based in Southern California, USA. One Chance Travel follows their adventures from Southern California through the world. They love doing tech reviews and collecting bags in search of the perfect one for travel.

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