The most memorable experience I had in Belize was snorkelling with the nurse sharks and giant manta rays. It was a tour arranged by our hotel on Ambergris Caye. We went out in a boat with 4 other couples. Sharks and rays are concentrated in an area of the ocean where fishermen clean their catch and throw the waste overboard. Guides teach the rules and get into the water with you. They capture one of the sharks and one of the rays for you to be able to touch. The shark skin felt like sandpaper and the ray felt like slick wet leather. I wish I had a picture to show. It was amazing!
The all-day snorkeling trip from Caye Caulker was definitely the highlight of my travels in Belize. I went with Raggamuffin Tours and they were great. It cost $35 per person. For that we travelled with two really nice guides on a schooner, listened to great reggae music, had free rum punch and a good lunch and the best snorkeling experiences I've ever had.
The equipment was excellent. We had three one-hour snorkels. The first was in the Coral Gardens, the second in Shark and Ray Alley and the third in Hol Chan Marine Park. We swam with Barracudas, Nurse Sharks, Southern Stingrays, Green and Loggerhead Turtles and actually got to stroke a shark and a stingray. Then we partied on the boat all the way back. It was brilliant!
A perfect day trip is by boat to Goffs Caye for snorkeling. It is $28US for an entire day of snorkeling on a private island. The tour will provide you with snorkeling equipment and a regional bbq lunch with all the rum punch you can consume. You depart at 8:00 am from your resort dock and return after dusk to your original pick up location. The snorkeling is amazing! for those who do not dive this is a must to see the local underwater inhabitants.
Bring a couple of towels to dry off with and to lay under the palm trees for a quick nap, underwater camera, and water if you drink it.
Even when 6 Months pregnant you can enjoy Placencia Village and do the tours offered (April 2007):
We went on the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve (70 USD per person, no fence, it is like a safari park), the only Jaguar preserve in the word with Doyle (guide). We booked the tour a day in advance with D-Tourz (located south of the airstrip on the sidewalk, close to Seaspray Hotel and Cozy Corner). The ¾ day tour leaves @ 8 AM and takes ¾ day long (lunch included in tour price). The tour include an approx. 2 hours nature walk (pretty flat surface) in the Jungle, then after lunch you tube down the river, walk to (little elevation) and swim in a waterfall and may do some rock sliding with the guide (U can be hurt with rock sliding if U are not careful, so we skipped that part). The guide (Doyle) was very knowledgable, but a bit “rushy” (The guide walked pretty fast, we hardly had time to take pictures, and when we asked him to stop for pictures while we were doing the tubing, he did not wait for the majority of the group, he rushed ahead of the group, and forgot to stop for pictures). I also heard good things about the Monkey River tour (1/2 day with no lunch, you can book it with Nite Wind, next to Splash Dive Shop for $60 USD per person) where you can see even more wildlife, and the guide is more attentive, and a lot of fun.
We also went for a ¾ day snorkeling to the Laughing Bird Cayes (Protected area. The boat ride is about an hour one way. Lunch is included in the price ($60 USD per person). If the water is not flat, the boat ride is bumpy, so I rested one of my knees on the boat’s seat cushion while standing on my other leg – slightly bent- , and hanging on to the rail and my husband). We booked the tour with Splash Dive Shop (south corner of the sidewalk, close to the Tuttifrutti Ice Cream place. THIS WAS THE BEST TOUR/ACTIVITY we did in Placencia. The (black, I forgot their names) 2 tour guides very knowledgeable of the colorful fish, corals, and sea-life. They were very attentive, friendly, and nice.
Even though I am a regular SCUBA diver, snorkelling is still always great fun. Especially when you can get down deep and stay for a while, it is so peaceful and quiet and you can get alot closer to the animals.
The Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Reserve snorkelling trip is for people of all ages and skills. It's not that expensive and it is a good half day trip. In the alley the rays and very safe nurse sharks will be close enough to touch. Lots of big jacks and other fish will also be nearby.
At the Hol Chan, you will see all different varieties of life. We saw tarpon, spadefish, grunts, parrot fish, sea cuccumbers, grouper, jacks, a really big moray eel, and millions of other smaller colourful fish.
I also snorkelled from shore at Tobacco Caye and Caye Caulker. Saw all kinds of sea life.
The highlight of our stay on Caye Caulker was a 3-hour snorkeling trip we made just a short distance off-shore one morning. After making arrangements the previous evening, we left in the morning with another 11 passengers and 2 crew. All were outfitted with life-jackets, flippers, masks and snorkels (all for our price of US$45 for two). A 115-HP Yamaha engine was soon powering our open boat out to the reef!
Our tour driver took us for a practise run in an area with various corals, and I thought that the colours of the corals and small fish were great! The actual snorkeling was easy, it was just pure fun to float along and take in the sights along this second longest of the world's barrier reefs!
Having mastered our equipment at the first dive site, the boat then took us to Caye Caulker's own 'Shark-Ray Alley' where we were encouraged to interact with the placid Nurse Sharks and Southern Sting-rays to be found there. The place was full of the creatures and they readily approached us, having been conditioned to this by numerous other tourist visits. This photo shows our guide in the water with one of the Sting-rays, showing us how it is done!
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 (2nd photo), 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. The third photo is an underwater shot I took as I approached one of the rays on our earlier stop!
These half day trips are great, with tours at 10:30 am to 1:30 pm & 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, weather permitting.
We did a day trip of snorkling that included a chance to see the manatees living in the area. Really loved the many places we were able to see. The snorkeling is great because of the reef off Belize so the water is real smooth. We snorkeled in Shark Alley and on a small little spit of an island that we had our lunch at. Would definetely like to do that again.
Snorkeling in Belize is excellent. The reef is one of the wonders of the world - just a bit smaller than the famous one in Australia. One place to go is Hol Chan which has now been a Marine Reserve for 12 years, so the fish have had time to grow very large, especially the groupers.
Because of the reef, the beaches are not large, so snorkel trips are usually done from small boats. You can rent all your equipment, but it is best to bring your own mask and snorkel so that you can be sure it fits. You should also take sun protection and water. In addition check and be sure if you will have lunch provided - if not, bring lunch.
First full day on Caye Caulker, we wanted to do a 10AM-4PM snorkel tour, which we booked with Anwar Tours located in the center of town. The tour visited 3 locations (Hol Chan, Shark Ray Alley, and Coral Gardens). Price was $80 USD/person and worth every penny.
We saw beautiful fish, swam with nurse sharks/sting rays/sea turtles and saw dolphins on the boat ride back. The price included transportation to the sites, lunch and touring on your own to Ambergis Caye, fruit/water break, snorkel gear.
This full day trip included snorkeling in two spots while our tour guides free dove for fish. They caught plenty of fish, lobster, and conch and took us to a beach where they cooked it for us on an open grill. We feasted like royalty. This was an amazing and unique experience.
Belize is home to the second largest coral reef in the world at 290 miles long. Along the reef are countless cayes, both big and small including Ambergris and Caulker.
Snorkelling and diving the reef can be very rewarding. You may encounter one of the three species of sea turtle whom nest here, as well as nurse sharks or manta rays. You may also see giant lobsters, moray eels, dolphins, starfish or spotted eagle rays.
Hundreds of beautiful cayes are scattered off the Belize coast. Many can be visited by boat for a day of snorkeling and a picnic.
One of those cayes is Goff's Caye
We spent several hours there enjoying the water and fish. It was great snorkeling.
While staying on Caye Caulker, we went on a Manatee Snorkeling Tour where we went and saw manatees in their natural habitat. We also went snorkeling on various reefs and had lunch on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. After lunch we went to shark and ray alley. The motor of the boat 'calls' the sharks and other marine life to the reef, where you can pet and swim with them. The rays were huge...bigger than the circle i can make with my arms. Don't forget to bring your underwater camera!!!!
Snorkling and water fun on the reef from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
The Winnie Estelle is a restored Chesepeke Bay clam boat. The Captain Roberto Smith is most entertaining and friendly. He offers a pleasant slow reef cruise with snorkling stops, lunch in Caye Caulker and plenty of free rum and beer.
These are not daunger sharks, but the kind of sharks that like tourist because they feed them so they can take pictures with them.