Belize Snorkeling: An In Depth Guide
Snorkeling in Belize is unlike any other!
The Caribbean sea boasts some of the clearest waters with the most diverse and colorful sea life. But all this beauty is lost upon us if we cannot witness it. Luckily, Belize snorkeling is one of the most enjoyable activities to be had in our warm waters.
PADI operates skin diving and snorkeling certifications where you learn all the ins and outs of snorkeling and skin diving to make you an absolute pro.
Luckily, unlike scuba diving, there's no need for a certification to be able to just dive right in!
Awesome Snorkel & Dive Tour operators
Many beach resorts offer snorkeling from their concierge desk, chances are if you're already staying at one such resort to embark on the tours directly from them. If your hotel/resort doesn't offer snorkeling, however, you could try one of these cool spots:
- Sea Sports Belize - Belize City
- SPLASH Belize - Placencia
- Belize Master Tours - San Pedro
- Amigos Del Mar - San Pedro
- Belize Diving Adventure - San Pedro
Cool Snorkeling Gear To Own
Easybreath Snorkeling Mask
The Easybreath (and products similar to it) are the latest in snorkeling mask design, incorporating the air pipe in the top of the full face mask and smart breath direction for optimal inhaling and exhaling. The biggest draw of this mask? Apart from looking really cool - is the benefit of a full peripheral sight range that is lost with most other masks and the added ability to breathe comfortably through your nose instead of having to train your mouth to do it.
Cressi Frog Plus fins
It's a bit daunting when getting into the technicalities about power, comfort etc of swimming fins - who knew there was so much depth to these things? Cressi Frog Plus fins are rated highest by pros and amateurs alike for their accessibility and price. They come in different colors so you can style up your snorkeling get up and won't break the bank. Not much more to be said about fins we guess?
Seadoo scooter Aquaranger
Seadoo is a cool brand of water sports gear, they make everything from jet skis to inflatables that can be pulled by them. This nifty gadget, one of their Sea Scooter models names the Aquaranger is particularly awesome, It's a handheld electric propeller that pulls you through the water at up to 2 miles per hour, it's child-friendly, and can handle depths of up to 100ft (not that we'd advise you snorkeling that deep).
Best spots to Snorkel in Belize
Belize's Barrier Reef
The stretch of our Belize Barrier Reef is but a part (the longest part) of the Mesoamerican Reef system and the second largest stretch of barrier reef in the world. Snorkeling in the waters near the reef is a deeply visceral experience as you look out through crystal clear sea water as far as your eyes can grasp. Of course, you'll be front and center to behold a plethora of different fish species all swimming just feet away from you!
Shark Ray Alley
This choice spot is precisely what it sounds like, known as Belize's most popular dive and snorkeling spot. Shark Ray alley is directly adjacent to Hol Chan Marine Reserve (getting to that in a bit). Here you will find a multitude of Nurse Sharks and Southern Sting Rays. You’re guaranteed an adrenaline rush stroking the stippled hide of a nurse shark streaking by. Both species are very tolerant to swimmers, often swimming up to and around you as you snorkel around much in the same fashion as they would. The sharks get as long as a human, is tall sometimes and the rays are about 4 feet wide at maximum intimidating maybe, but no threat to anyone.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine reserve, as mentioned a few sentences ago is connected to shark ray alley, consisting of three other zones (of which Shark Ray Alley would be the fourth) each home to a different type of sea life. Zone A is a stretch of protected coral reef area - the local fish population as well as coral formation population is booming there due to the protected nature of the locale. Zone B is the seagrass area, much less snorkeled but not to be overlooked as there is a greater chance for rare encounters here than anywhere else in the reserve. Zone C is the mangrove roots where you'll see a colorful area of invertebrates competing for space on the roots of the mangrove trees. If you're looking for something uber-cool, try a night dive here and experience a completely different world of bioluminescence.
Belize Blue Hole
The Great blue hole can look pretty intimidating at first. This giant limestone vertical cavern was once a collapsed limestone formation that peeked above the water's surface. Now the giant 140-meter deep cavern is home to Belize's Caribbean sea life. Fret not and jump right in - certainly, you'll enjoy snorkeling around the perimeter of the entrance and swim over the center of the formation.
Mexico Rocks (Ambergris Caye)
Mexico Rocks is a patch of reef that is about 40 minutes north of San Pedro and has been under consideration to become a nature reserve since the late 70's. This area is well known for conch, banded shrimps, arrow crabs, flounders, stingrays, yellowtail snappers, and an assortment of butterflyfishes and angelfishes. Truly a treat for anyone who wishes to snorkel in the relatively shallow waters which happen to be very friendly to beginners.
Long Caye - Wall and atoll reefs
Long Caye is one of the southern atolls that line the edge of Belize's inner waters. a unique feature if this area is what we call the "Wall" which is, in essence, a shelf in the seabed which drops vertically at that point. The varying depth of this area gives homes to a heavily diversified population of fish and other sea animals. In addition to the wall, Long caye is host to many other reef formations dotted within its area.
Half Moon Caye
We did call the Long caye wall unique, but the wall near Half Moon Caye is a 6,000 foot (not continuous) drop into the warm Caribbean Sea - triple that of long caye, but not the only attraction here. Half Moon Caye is part of the Lighthouse reef Atoll, the furthest formation from the Belizean mainland before making your way into open seas. The area enclosed within is one of the most densely populated and certainly one of the most diverse marine reef ecosystems in all of Belize. A literal paradise as there is more to do there than snorkel, bird watching is prime in the area as birds nest on the patches of tropical forests that crest the islands peeking out of the water.
While it could be said that it seems we saved the best for last - Belize is a haven for snorkelers. Watersports are some of the most enjoyable activities here and we definitely suggest you try some during your stay!
Have you been snorkeling in Belize? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
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