Snorkeling Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley (Half Day)

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley are the most popular diving/snorkeling sites in all of Belize.  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.

$8.00 US Gear Rental not included

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

  1. AdminRA Says:

    I have snorkelled all over the world – in Hawaii, The Bahamas, Fiji and more and nothing compares to the incredible diversity and beauty of Hol Chan! Shark Ray Alley, is also a very intense experience as you come face to face with harmless nurse sharks, sting rays and horse eyed jacks!! Incredible!

  2. MIchael Says:

    Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley is like you’re in Finding Nemo. Swimming with nurse sharks is the coolest thing ever, and the water is crystal clear – like you can see forever, and when you see a school of hundreds of bright colored fish, you just want to swim right in the middle of them. It’s awesome!

  3. Janet Phelps Says:

    February 2006. Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley. First of many trips to Belize. It got me hooked. Great snorkeling here. Took AM snorkel excursion on this one.
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  4. Jaime Giancola Says:

    This was some of the best snorkeling I have ever done! There is so much to see. Along with the colorful fish, rays and sharks, we even saw some sea turtles! It was amazing

  5. Barbara Gross Says:

    We took the snorkling aventure. It was brilliant. The sharks, turtles and all the fish were amazing. The driver was excellent and I didn’t even get sick!

  6. Steven Macht Says:

    My wife Kathy isn’t the best swimmer and the thought of swimming with sharks didn’t seem to appeal to her. But once we started snorkling and she saw the amazing fish, rays, and sharks, all she could do was smile.

  7. Jennifer Krynicki Says:
    The morning of our trip was cold and windy; I even considered canceling because I thought it’d be miserable to get in the water. But I love to snorkel so I went for it. I’m so glad I did! The water was crystal clear and the colors were amazingly vibrant. There was so much to see and our guide was amazing. He pointed out a lot of fish that I otherwise would have missed and was full of knowledge about everything we saw.
    The sharks and rays were so exhilarating to swim with and, again, our guide did not disappoint.
    This trip was more than worth all the goosebumps and shivering!
  8. Ed K Says:
    Great tour!! Watch the movie and you’ll see the Banana Beach hotel’s beach at the beginning and a fishy from Hol Chan at the very end!
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  12. Price Massey Says:
    Amazing morning snorkeling in Hol Chan Marine Reserve booked through Monkey Business! We saw beautiful coral, tons of fish, manta rays, sea turtles, and eels. You have to head to Hol Chan if you’re staying on Ambergris Caye! Not to be missed.