Belize: Ambergris Caye Snorkelling

Ambergris Caye

Shark Ray Alley

We spent around 3 full days in Belize, as it was so close to get there from Mexico, basing ourselves in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.

Having recently been snorkelling in Mnemba Island in Zanzibar (and sadly disappointed) I was wary of giving it another go in Belize.

That being said, I was told that it’s the absolute number 1 thing to do when in the Caye’s so I gave it a go and boy am I grateful I did!

What’s sad about snorkelling in 2019 is that coral reefs are bleached out and or non-existent due to many environmental and touristic factors. But a lot of work is going into conservation and protection in Hol Chan which is likely why the waters are crystal clear and both coral and marine life are still thriving.

We’re seriously warned by our tour guides (who were awesome btw!) not to touch the coral, keep a 5m distance from any turtles we might see, to make sure we didn’t have any non-reef safe sunscreen on etc. They love their reef and are very protective of it (rightly so!)

Off we went on a >10min super fast boat ride from San Pedro in Ambergris Caye - a stark contrast from the 3 hour return trip on a non-engine pirate ship in Zanzibar! See ya sea-sickness!

We got our briefing as per the above and were split into 2 groups, so 4 people per guide. Normally when snorkelling the driver stays in the boat and you’re expected to do your own thing.

In Hol Chan however, your guide [ours was called Eddie] is in the water with you and basically doing a swimming version of a walking tour of a city. As I’m not a strong swimmer you can just imagine I was thrilled! He also carried a life ring but we were all offered life jackets and shown the ‘cool but safe’ way of wearing them - essentially round your waist not your head!: Exhibit A here:

solid photographic effort from Paulo solid photographic effort from Paulo

I loved this because I spent far more time actually snorkelling and less time worrying about drowning, win win!

Within seconds of being in the water we saw some eagle rays and Eddie was impressed to see so many at once so you can imagine how excited we were.

We were then taken on a swim through different zones to see different types of coral and fish, and we finished after about an hour with a turtle sighting! While there were a ton of other groups in the water as well as us I really appreciated other guides telling their groups to back away from the turtle too, it was just by itself so it was important not to startle it. There’s always one jerk with a go pro that has to get the closest photo so I was quietly satisfied when he got a royal telling off when he didn’t listen to the guides advice ;)

We hopped back on our boat and was greeted with ice cold Sprites and mini coconut cakes with ‘juice’ poured on top. Said juice being tequila me thinks... Delicious!

We sped off for a few more minutes and reached Shark Ray Alley. Here we were told that the sound of the engine brings sharks and rays toward the boat and within moments they arrived. So in we jumped and had our first close encounters with rays and nurse sharks - both relatively friendly we found!

3 hours flew by and we got back to dock feeling overwhelmed by how much we saw and especially reflective of our previous snorkelling attempts elsewhere in the world.

One thing for sure is I would wholeheartedly recommend Belize for a snorkelling destination!

#islandadventure, #islandhopping, #islandlife, #snorkeling, #belize