Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is located just off the southern coast of Ambergris Caye. It is also easily reached by boat from Caye Caulker. Covering 3 square miles, this marine reserve offers snorkelers and divers a chance to see amazing coral formations and a an exceptionally healthy marine ecosystem. Established in 1987, the protected marine status has resulted in a significant growth of marine life over the past couple of decades. The word Hol Chan is Mayan for “Little Channel” and refers to a channel that cuts through the Barrier Reef. The constant flow of tidal currents through this channel brings a constant supply of nutrients which work their way up the marine food chain resulting in the abundance of fish and other marine life.

This excellent snorkeling and dive site has much to offer both the novice and advanced diver. Inside the reef, coral rises to the surface in a long snaking ridge and outside gently slopes down to 35 feet, unveiling many shallow water corals and an abundance of gorgonians. The sloping shelf is dramatically cut with deep cracks and crevices winding to the reefs outer edge where a great wall drops to depths beyond 130 feet. Since fishing is prohibited in the reserve, you will often encounter a diversity of marine life including spotted eagle rays, barracudas, loggerhead turtles and friendly nurse sharks.

Within the marine reserve you’ll find Shark Ray Alley. This snorkleing site was selected as one of the best “animal dives” in the Caribbean. Here you will find an impressive array of stingrays and friendly nurse sharks. You are perfectly safe jumping into the water with them, as they seem to enjoy human interaction, but it certainly makes for an exhilarating and memorable experience.

All Photos Credit, Gruber Photographers

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1 Comment

  1. Alex Gamero, 5 years ago

    Hol Chan is a great example of how effective protected marine reserves can be. After 2 decades of protection the marine ecosystem within the reserve is bursting with life. If you are visiting Belize, you should not miss the chance to snorkel or dive Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley!

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