The real reason to go to caye caulker is the reef about a half mile off shore. Many companies offer snorkeling tours to the marine reserves close to the reef. We used Raggamuffin tours and were very satisfied, they use sailboats for a very smooth ride and the guides are excellent.
I went for the half day snorkeling which was 3 hrs, and was only $25US. Ian our guide was born and raised on Caye Caulker, so he was very knowledgeable and friendly. He was also very funny. He took us to the coral reef and pointed out all the fish that we saw, giving us the names as he went along. And he always made sure everyone, was together, no one left behind.
We next went to sting ray alley, where he fed the nurse sharks and stingrays so we could get a better look. When I was too afraid to touch them, he picked up his favorite "Lucy" and held her so that we could all touch her.
We next went to another coral garden, and while people swam, Ian cut up fruit for us to have on the way back. I loved this tour and recommend you find them when in Caye Caulker.
We choose Tsunami Adventures for our snorkling tour. We went to 3 diffrent gardens at the reef. The gardens are so breath taking. The coral is just to beautiful to put into words. We swam with the sting rays and rubbed thire backs!! Which was oh so cool!! Our tour guide did a great job in showing us all the diffrent shells and fish, shrimp, lobsters among many, many,many other things. The list just goes on and on. Great experience!!! for sure :)
the weather wasn't great that day, but it was still amazing, carol was able to make sea creatures to come out of their hiding, we event got to touch a sting ray. swimmed with turtles and sharks.. simply amazing
Caye Caulker is located just a short boat ride away from the Barrier Reef, so one of the island's top attractions is snorkelling. There are several different tour operators but we chose to go with E-Z Boy Tours because their guide Harry Woods is one of the best in Caye Caulker. The tour we picked left at 10:30 in the morning and it included three stops in the beautiful Hol Chan Marine Reserve: Zone A, Shark Ray Alley and Coral Gardens. Snorkelling there was beyond amazing! We followed Harry around in the water as he showed us tons of colourful fishies, some sea turtles, nurse sharks, sting rays, spotted eagle rays and a moray eel. Salt water makes it incredibly easy to float and swim around, the water was crystal clear, and there are no words to describe the feeling you get as you slowly drift over a family of giant sting rays!
Once we got to Coral Gardens, we were left to wander about on our own for about 1h30 while Harry was getting lunch ready. It was nice to be able to spread out and go at our own pace and spend as much time as we wanted taking pictures. After a while I got nausea from moving around in the waves so I got back on the boat and Harry was incredibly nice, giving me a lime to chew on and all sorts of tips to help me get rid of the feeling. After only a few minutes I felt good enough to go back in the water and enjoy the rest of the day! I took loads of picture but it's always hard to tell how they'll turn out - here are a few "choice specimens" ;o)
When we got back on the boat after our last snorkelling stop, Harry handed out some water, fresh fruits and tuna sandwiches (he made a special vegetarian one for me), and we then made our way back towards Caye Caulker, going around the island to a spot most visitors don't get to see because it is on the other side of the Split (a waterway that divides the island in two). We stopped at the Driftwood dock and spent the rest of the afternoon drinking and relaxing while watching the sunset. While we were snorkelling at Coral Gardens, Harry had retrieved some conches from the bottom of the sea and prepared fresh conch ceviche (and some vegetarian ceviche for me), which we washed down with a few glasses of delicious rum punch! It just seemed like the perfect way to end a perfect day, and Harry brought us back to Caye Caulker just on time for dinner :o)
If I remember correctly, the price for the full-day snorkelling excursion, which included the food, drinks and snorkelling equipment, was US$60 (BZ$120) per person. I would definitely recommend E-Z Boy Tours for an amazing snorkelling experience in Caye Caulker!
Excellent way to spend the day. Carlos is very knowledgeable about the reef and its inhabitants. He actually leads the group (usually 6-8) on a tour of the reef pointing out the different types of coral and fish/eels/rays. You go to San Pedro for lunch and then snorkelling again on the way back. At the end of the day you can buy a CD of the pictures he took that day for about $15 US
We went with Star Tours, located in the heart of Caye Caulker town. Cost was US$47.50 per person for a full-day three location trip, which included Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark/Ray Alley, and Coral Gardens.
Guide was very informative, though we felt Hol Chan Marine Reserve was overly crowded and that was a shame. We only got to see one shark the whole day, largely because there were so many tourists in the water. We left a 20% tip for the operator at the end of the day for his work.
The full day trip runs from 9am till 4pm in the afternoon, stopping at Ambergris Caye for lunch. (We ate at Fido's. Prices are so much higher on Ambergris Caye!!)
We went on a full day snorkel trip with this tour agency. After comparing prices around the island it seems they're all around the same price. Anyways, I feel we made a good choice.
We went to three sites: The Coral Gardens, Shark and Ray Alley, and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Swimming with the nurse sharks was a neat experience (they feed them and other fish to attract them to the boat). One of the tour guides comes in with the group, guides them around, and points out different types of fish. My favourite experience was gliding across the surface with rays deep below me in the depths, it was so serene, like it was just us.
Water and fresh tropical fruits were available on the boat. We also had a simple sandwich lunch (vegetarian option). On the return journey our guides opened the sails and we sailed along for an hour or so sipping rum punch and snacking on fresh salsa and chips before turning on the motor for the final leg of the trip.
Like I said, it was a fun trip, though more for the boat ride and introduction to snorkelling than the fish themselves. There weren't all that many fish like all the tour agencies and online sites make it seem, for whatever reason (coral decline? hurricanes?). Also, it did feel a bit rushed, though I don't blame the tour operators; it's a lot to see and do in one day. If you want to spend more time in one place, I recommend renting out snorkel gear and going out on your own time just for fun, or perhaps looking into 1/2-day trips that spend more time at particular places.
The final stop in our snorkeling excursion was at the inside of the reef wall itself. This enabled us to swim right up to the various channels and inlets along the backside of the reef, paying attention not to actually touch anything, where we could examine it up close. We had some really great views of colourful fish here, but I guess I was overly excited from the sharks and rays, managing to forget to bring the underwater camera with me for this session! We lingered here for quite some time before climbing out and getting ourselves organized before the boat headed ashore. The tour price also included a small snack of fruit and bottles of water. Even though I had covered myself with #30 sunblock, and we were only out for 3 hours, this was the only time I got a little bit of a burn on our trip - don't mess with the midday sun and water!
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