Hol Chan Marine Reserve Tours
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Around 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) south of the shores of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the most-visited snorkeling and diving area in Belize. Part of the Belize Barrier Reef, the reserve covers about 3 square miles (7.7 square kilometers) and is divided into zones according to marine habitat.
Hol Chan (or “small channel” in Mayan) is the most popular zone—a 30-foot-deep (9-meter-deep) “cut” in the reef where all sorts of marine life gather, making it like a giant aquarium. You might see coral, angelfish, turtles, hogfish, snapper, and many others. Another top zone is Shark Ray Alley, a shallower area replete with nurse sharks and stingrays. Grass beds and mangrove make up the other zones, and while less-visited, these areas provide unique viewing opportunities—you could even spot some manatees.
Guided sailing and snorkeling tours of Hol Chan Marine Reserve typically include round-trip transportation from hotels in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Belize City.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is constantly patrolled, and visitors must observe rules such as no touching or standing on coral.
- Swimming with a guide helps you spot and identify sealife.
- Hol Chan often experiences strong currents, so be cautious.
- A large moray eel population inhabits Hol Chan. Don’t touch them—they bite.
- The reserve is considered a good site for first-time divers.
- The reserve has an informative visitors center in town with clear displays of Belize’s various marine habitats.
How to Get There
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is located southeast of San Pedro, near the island of Ambergris Caye. Because the reserve is managed by the Belize Fisheries Department, you can access it only through a licensed tour operator.
When to Get There
Belize’s peak tourist season is late November to mid-April. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve can be crowded at times—you may even bump into other snorkelers. Tour operators generally run trips twice a day, in the morning and afternoon.
What to Know About Swimming with Sharks
Shark Ray Alley is home to stingrays as well as nurse sharks, which, for the most part, are harmless to humans. They are slow-moving and docile, but will bite if stepped on or bothered, so refrain from touching them. Tour guides are allowed to feed the sharks from the boat.
Address: Ambergris Caye, Belize
6 Tours and Activities to Experience Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Discover Ambergris Caye’s wildlife and coral reefs on this sailing and snorkeling tour to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and shark ray alley. Swim above bright coral formations in Hol Chan, and watch for the sea turtles, eels and fishes that thrive within the protected area. Slip into the water with the stingrays and nurse sharks at shark ray alley, watch them feed on fresh sardines, then enjoy tropical breezes and a comfortable seat on deck as you return to San Pedro Town.
TripTivo Travel & Souvenirs caters to groups, friends and family that prefer to travel and do activities with a smaller crowd. We are a child friendly tour company and we give our guests undivided attention whilst they are with us!
* We cater to smaller and private groups. * Over 20 years in the Hospitality Industry. * Fully Licensed and Insured Tour Operator. * Exceptional Service. * Felxible and able to operate almost all tours with as few as two persons
This tour is to the well-known protected area known as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the famous Shark Ray Alley, where you can swim with the nurse sharks and southern and Atlantic stingrays. Occasionally you see Loggerhead turtles. The sites are located about three miles from San Pedro Town on the reef. It's a 35 minute boat ride each way to get there and once there you have approximately 1 ½ hours of snorkeling. Total time on this tour is 3 hours. Non-snorkelers can watch the fish and sharks and stingrays from the glass or the side of the boat. They can also swim by the boat
Exclusive All-in-1 2 snorkel stops (Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley) Belizean Buffet lunch Open bar 1 hour visit at Caye Caulker Sunset cruise We start the tour with snorkeling at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley.. Watch from the boat or swim with them! Then we continue sailing to the neighbor island Caye Caulker, while serving our famous Belizean buffet lunch on-board. Traditional Belizean dishes like stewed chicken and rice and beans with our Captain’s secret recipe BBQ fish! BELIZEAN BUFFET BBQ fish (comes with veggies and our Captain's secret sauce) stewed chicken rice & beans flour tortillas coleslaw "pico de gallo" (tomato, onion, cilantro and chili in lime juice) fried sweet plantain A vegetarian or vegan diet must be pre-notified. Nothing contains dairy, let us know if you are allergic to gluten. OPEN BAR Rum Punch Panty Rippers (based on coconut rum and pineapple juice) Local rum (dark, white and coconut) Coca Cola, Sprite, Red Fanta, soda water Orange, pineapple and fruitpunch juice
Discover the highlights in the area on your private catamaran! We start the tour with snorkeling at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. Hol Chan has the largest variety of species to be seen in the area and is often compared to an aquarium, while at Shark Ray Alley you get to experience a close encounter with nurse-sharks and stingrays. Watch from the boat or swim with them! Then we continue sailing to the neighbor island Caye Caulker, while serving our famous Belizean buffet lunch on-board. Traditional Belizean dishes like stewed chicken and rice and beans with our Captain’s secret recipe BBQ fish! On Caye Caulker, there is approx. 2 hours of free time to stroll around and explore the island, followed by a relaxed sunset cruise back to San Pedro. You can also choose to return earlier to the boat for one more snorkel stop on our way back. During the sunset cruise a fresh ceviche is served. Open bar featuring local rum drinks like rum punch and "panty rippers" is included all day.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Hol Chan Marine Reserve?
The best ways to experience Hol Chan Marine Reserve are:
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
- All Inclusive Fishing, Beach BBQ and Snorkeling
- Speedboat Tour Snorkeling, Fishing and Beach Bar B Que
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley from San Pedro, Belize
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