Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve is one of the most popular areas to dive or snorkel while here on Ambergris Caye. Established as the first marine reserve back in 1987, this area offers vast numbers of both macro and pelagic marine life as well as different types of coral. “Hol Chan” is a Mayan word meaning “small” or “little” channel, This channel is a natural “cut” through the barrier reef system which is a little more than 75ft/23m wide and 30ft/9m deep creating 2 mini coral walls.
Hol Chan is perfect for families with certified divers and snorkelers as everyone can enjoy the same experience on and below the surface. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the sound of the Caribbean sea as it breaks over the second largest barrier reef in the world. Your guide will go through a thorough briefing of the area and how your dive or snorkel will be conducted.
Once in the water, your guide will make sure you are comfortable and ready to begin your adventure. The first you’ll notice besides how warm the water is (80° f/26° c +), is the abundance of marine life and how shallow (3ft – 6ft) your dive or snorkel begins. With your guide leading the way, you will slowly make your way around the reserve as it gently slopes down to the channel. There, you will be treated to schools of fish, such as snappers, grunts, margates and blue tangs to name a few of the 160 species of fish found here. Common are also green turtles, rays, sharks, barracudas, groupers and moray eels, with over 40 types of coral and 5 species of sponge, Hol Chan is great place for experiencing the ultimate dive or snorkel adventure.
Shark Ray Alley
After visiting Hol Chan, you make your way 5 minutes south to Zone “D” of the reserve better known as Shark Ray Alley where everyone snorkels. This area was added to the reserve in 1999 after years of local fishermen choosing this part of the reef to clean their catch of the day, throwing whatever they could not consume or sell overboard thus attracting bottom feeders such as nurse sharks and stingrays. Snorkeling here is done near the boat as sharks and rays are attracted to the sound of the engine. In addition to nurse sharks and stingrays, there are schools of horse eyed jacks and blue tangs that surround the boat upon arrival. Nurse sharks and stingrays here are docile and very much use to snorkelers which allow you to enjoy the presence and majestic movement of these creatures.
Hol Chan and Shark Ray alley are a short 10-12 minute boat ride away from Belize Pro Dive Center. Our boats leave at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. and return approximately 2.5 hours later.