Diving & Snorkeling Hol Chan Shark Ray Alley (Half Day)

This trip is where snorkelers and divers are joined in one boat to enjoy Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray alley.  Divers do 1 shallow tank dive at Hol Chan and snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley.

Off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye is Belize’s oldest marine reserve, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hol Chan is Mayan for ‘little channel.” The entire reserve focuses on a cut through the reef (called a quebrada) which is little more than 25 yards (23 m) wide and 30 feet (9 m) deep about 4 miles southeast of San Pedro.

Due to its protected status, what was once a depleted fishing area has now been allowed to re-generate, providing an unparalleled diving/snorkeling experience for visitors and an important refuge for marine life along the northern section of the Belize Barrier Reef.

Over 160 species of fish have been identified at Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley, along with nearly 40 species of corals, 5 sponges, 8 algaes, 2 seagrasses, 3 marine mammals and 3 species of sea turtle.  The large amount of fish life found with the Hol Chan “cut” accessible by snorkelers and beginning divers, the diversity of marine life encountered throughout the 4 zones of the park and the excitement and novelty of swimming with large numbers of nurse sharks and sting rays.

In waters as shallow as 5 feet, large schools of jacks, groupers, snappers and barracuda abound. Along each side of the cut grow healthy stands of corals and seagrass in shallow water, perfect for the beginner snorkeler. The more experienced swimmer can swim from one side of the cut to the other, experiencing shallow reef, drop offs over the steep sides of the “cut”, and seagrass and sand beds in the middle of the channel.

The sharks and rays hear the dive boats approaching and begin to school in anticipation of bait being thrown into the water. When you arrive, you will see the surface often boiling with rolling sharks and sting ray wings as they vie 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 you, mouths often turned up hoping for a hand held bit to be placed near their mouths.  You will often find them circling around you, as if performing for food. The docile Nurse Sharks average four to six feet in length and can be a bit more aggressive than the sting rays.

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5 Reviews on “Diving & Snorkeling Hol Chan Shark Ray Alley (Half Day)”

  1. Paula Revilla Says:

    This was the best snorkeling I have ever done. And probably is better than 99% of the scuba diving I have done.
    We have been scuba and snorkeling all over the tropics, from the South Pacific and Hawaii to all over the Caribbean and Central America. This snorkeling was awesome. I have never seen so many different types of fish and coral in such close proximity as there was at Hol Chan. The mind blower was the graceful rays with the geometric designs on their backs. It was surreal to swim along with them as they glided through the water.
    Then the opportunity to swim and interact with the nurse sharks and rays at Shark Ray Alley was extremely exciting. I was able to ‘dance’ with several nurse sharks. One even allowed me to ‘ride’ along with it as it propelled through the water. It was absolutely incredible.
    I will never forget the experience.

  2. Jaime Giancola Says:
    This was some of the best snorkeling! I went with my mom and we saw everything here from colorful fish and coral, sharks, rays, sea turtles, even an eel! Would love to do it again!
  3. Ed Kiraly Says:
    Stephen and Giselle, juggling a soccer ball on their awesome winter break trip to Belize (and a day trip to Guatemala). Filmed on location in Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Belize Zoo, Barton Creek, ATM cave, Rio Frio, Hidden Valley falls, Cahal Pech ruins, Tikal ruins (Guatemala) , San Ignacio, and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

    Hotels were Banana Beach resort in Caye Ambergris and cahal Pech resort in San Ignacio.

  4. Alex Berger Says:
    Hol Chan is hands down one of the most spectacular snorkeling destinations I’ve been to. The fish were gorgeous, the reef in good shape, the sharks, turtles and rays fascinating.
  5. S Fischer Says:
    Best snorkelling ever!