Snorkel, Caye Caulker
The second biggest reef in the world is right outside Caye Caulker. The most famous diving spot is Shark Alley, here you will find some Nursesharks and a lot of Stingrays, it is wonderful to swim with these wonderful creatures, we even saw som Barracudas, the mantas was so friendly puffin at us in the water, they are grey and very soft to touch. The Sharks are somewhat shy and they try to avoid you (thank God), they are quite big, 1,5 - 2 meters, but totally friendly. This was the best snorkelling experience we ever had.
You can expect to pay about 40 $ for the trip, and it is worth every penny. Along the main street in the Cayes you will find plenty of operators
Sam was thrilled especially when some enormous rays swam by in the crystal clear water. She had no qualms about jumping in. We saw lots of rays as we snorkelled as well as an octopus which was a first for all of us. Later on we floated and watched three reef sharks and they weren’t babies either!
Our last stop was Hol Chan (Mayan for narrow channel). Talk about rush hour on the reef, there were a lot of snorkellers and divers there but to be honest it didn’t spoil anything. We swam over the coral which in some places is very shallow and then we hit the drop-off. We also saw a yellow stingray in the sea grass.
The first stop was at Coral Gardens, lots of coral but not very colourful but we did see a lot of different fish – blue tarpon, snapper, zebra fish, angel fish etc
We then munched on fresh fruit as we sailed to our next stop – Shark Ray alley. At shark ray alley the crew the fish in to the sea and a nurse shark surrounded by a shoal of fish came up to the boat. I have never seen a shark on the surface of the water and never so close!
We did the one day snorkelling trip to Hol Chan Marine with Ragamuffin tours (see my general tips for contact info)
We have found all boat trips / tours to be very expensive here, about USD40 upwards. We went with Ragamuffin tours, the only sailboats here. Once we were away from Caye Caulker they cut the engine and we were sailing. It is so nice to be out there with no noise just the boat cutting through the water. The captain fed the seagulls fish form his hand. I wish I had had my camera out for that one!
We took a tour with Coral Breeze Unlimited and really enjoyed it. Swimming with the nurse sharks and stingrays was part of the day. Once the boat motors over to the shallow water, which you can stand in, they just swim up to you. Uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it really quickly.
My day trip to Swallow Caye to see the manatees with Anwar Tours included a stop at the miniscule island called Sargeant's Caye. This island is not much more than a pile of sand about 50 feet in diameter.
However, the snorkelling around Sargeant's Caye was probably the best that I saw in Belize. The water was very shallow and warm and we had a very sunny day so visibility was perfect. I did not see any large fish but alot of small colourful ones and also some very beautifully colored coral.
When you book your snorkel tour, be sure that it includes a stop at Shark Ray Alley. The water is crystal clear here as you can see in the photo and quite shallow. Although the shallow water makes for good visibility and warmer water, it means you have to swim carefully so as to avoid damaging the coral with your flippers. Keep your body horizontal at the surface of the water.
As the name suggests, you will see alot of sharks and rays here. The fish are well trained and will appear boatside immediately to receive their free handouts from your guides. In the midst of this feeding frenzy we are advised to don our snorkel gear and jump in!
We saw many fish including these nurse sharks (don't worry they're harmless). We also saw spotted eagle rays and large manta rays. The most exciting spotting was that of a loggerhead turtle. He surfaced a few times before we jumped in the water and disappeared after that.
There are many companies offering day trips to the world's second longest reef. Some are geared for divers, but snorkellers are welcome and some like the one I took is for snorkellers only.
I travelled with Ragamuffin Tours on their sailboat, although the sails didn't come up until the end of the day when we were headed back to Caye Caulker.
Jerry, your host is very friendly and entertaining. He also keeps you well fed with plenty of fresh fruit in the morning, an excellent sandwich for lunch and conch ceviche with rum punch on the way home.
And, apart from all the good food, you also get to go snorkelling! First stop was Shark Ray Alley, the second stop was at Hol Chan Marine Reserve where we saw a huge green moray eel as well as a sea turtle. And the last stop was Coral Gardens.
The trip cost $40US, about average for the island and we were gone all day from 10am until 4pm. Your snorkel gear is provided.
This is a really fun snorkelling trip, even the second time around for us. The tour guides/boat drivers throw out food to attract the nurse sharks and stingrays, so they’re busy eating while you float around and watch them. They’ll swim right under you in only 4 to 8 feet of water, so you’re super close. We even saw a spotted eagle ray here, with a tail about six feet long. The first time we did this, 9 years ago, I was nervous about the sharks and didn’t get in right away, but after watching everyone else having a great time I joined in after about five minutes. Nurse sharks are not as dangerous as other kinds of sharks. Don’t use fins here, and don’t step on anything, and you should be just fine!
Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, after Australia’s, so don’t miss snorkelling here. The water’s pretty shallow around much of it, and there are tons of colorful fish to enjoy. Their natural inclination is to hide from you if you’re swimming all around, so just stop and float for a bit around some coral, and they’ll come out to have a peek at you and go about their business once you’re not splashing around. You’ll also come across lots of conchs on the ocean floor, in their beautiful shells. There are bunches of tour guides who set up shop on Front Street to take you here or on any snorkelling or diving tour you want.
You really have to go snorkelling when you are here!!! There are incredible things to see even close to land. Even if you can't swim it's not so deep and you can just stand in the sea with the mask. Close to the split (the public beach) we saw all kinds of fishes, even sharks and rays!
If you want to see more you can go on one of the many trips that are offered all around the island. The second largest coralreef in the world is just a short boattrip away, and there are plenty of great places for snorkelling both on the island and out at sea.
When you are in the old age home and you can "one-up" with " I swam with Rays and Sharks in the Caribean", (provided you still remember) you know you have lived when you could!!
I felt really safe. Our guide was a great guy, intelligent, respectful and proud of his local environment. His name was Mark. I always try to pick and promote people like that.
I'm not a keen watersport enthusiast but I would recommend snorkelling Belize if you have the chance. It is very inexpensive, at least it was out on Caye Caulker, and the sights to see are plenty. Belize boasts the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world behind the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. There is so many species of fish, coral and other sea life to see that it would take hours and hours and you've still not seen it all!
On Caye Caulker I would recommend booking through Tsunami Adventures who can book you in a matter of minutes and only with an hours notice. The staff are courteous and friendly and very knowledgeable about the locals and the area. They can even point out the best place to get a drink and something to eat!
There are half day and full day trips out onto the reef which lies approx 1/2 mile off of the Caye Caulker coast and takes only minutes to arrive there. The boat guides are very helpful and knowledgeable about the coral, sealife, etc.
There is many accomodations on the island of Caye Caulker, cheap and clean. Many restaurants/food establishments, also inexpensive and much to do including scuba diving. If you're planning a trip to Belize then Caye Caulker and snorkelling is a must see activity and if you're a keen snorkel or diving enthusiast, even if you're not but always wanted to try, then Caye Caulker is the place to visit.
45 minutes by water taxi from Belize City is all it takes and is well worth the trip! I recommend staying at least two days if not more.
any one of the local tour groups is good. The guides are very friendly and knowledgeble about the tours and what you will be doing. Snorkel gear, ie mask, fins and snorkel are included with all of the tours as well as some refreshing ice water and fruits (ours was cold watermelon) brought in from Belize City.
Trip to the local reef was so-so. The trip up to Hol Chan was definitely better and worth the $$ to me. I don't scuba (yet!) but the snorkeling at Hol Chan was really decent. Plus, having lunch in San Pedro, if you walk around for a bit, will REALLY make you appreciate Caye Caulker!