Why You Need to Snorkel in Belize

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Snorkeling is one of my favorite ocean activities, but it was particularly beautiful in Caye Caulker, Belize. The water there is so clear and pristine that there is an abundance of marine life to witness! We chose to go snorkeling with Salt Life Eco Tours after shopping multiple tour operators.

A big plus of Salt Life is that they are incredibly eco-conscious (as the name suggests) and did not participate in any activities that would jeopardize the wellbeing of the animals. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for every snorkeling company in Caye Caulker, so please do your research and make a responsible choice.

Please note: due to the nature of this tour and the footage I captured, the best way to experience it is through video! Thus, you won’t see many photos in this post. Rather, it outlines each stop so that you can evaluate the tour in full.

Watch the video below to visually experience our snorkeling tour!

Although I think that the video above will give you the best idea of what to expect on this tour, I’ve detailed each stop below if you want more details!

Manatee spotting (Note: not guaranteed)

One perk about our chosen tour is that it leaves an hour and a half before most of the other tours on the island – so, you have a better chance of spotting manatees in less-crowded waters. That said, seeing the manatees is entirely up to chance and whether they choose to make themselves seen. Unfortunately we didn’t see any that day, but our guides Daniel and Kenroy definitely put in the effort to do so. At the very least, it was a pleasant boat ride before we hopped in the water at our next stop.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Hol Chan is an expansive marine reserve that covers 18 square kilometers of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forest. During our stop here, we had the chance to snorkel part of the Belize Barrier Reef, and it was clear and beautiful.

Beware: the currents can get REALLY strong here! One of our girls actually had to be helped back to the boat by our guide, simply because the current swept her too far out to swim back properly. If you’re a somewhat strong swimmer, you’ll find yourself able to handle the current – but it will take some effort. If you’re not a strong swimmer, I recommend taking advantage of the floats that are offered; and to stay very close to the guide just in case.

By the way, this first stop is in fact where we spotted our first sea turtle (of about five total)! You’ll see this shelled beauty in the first minute of the video.

Shark Ray Alley

Shark Ray Alley is the name of another zone in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, since it’s known to have an abundance of nurse sharks and stingrays!

For the record, nurse sharks are pretty much harmless unless you go out of your way to antagonize them. So our group had no problem getting in reasonable proximity of them. Keeping true to the eco-friendly policy, our guides didn’t throw bait in the water to attract the nurse sharks. Rather, they used a boat trick: apparently the humming of the boat’s motor attracts the sharks as well. Who knew?

Be sure to skip to 0:51 in the video above to see the nurse sharks in action!

Sea Turtles (at nearly every stop!)

As I mentioned, we saw quite a few sea turtles on this tour! That was a personal highlight honestly, because sea turtles are one of my favorite marine creatures. So, it was delightful to encounter these gentle creatures at the majority of our stops. As you’ll see in the video, sometimes I was able to swim behind a turtle and watch it float up to the surface to get some air. It’s a rather cute experience in my opinion.

Each sea turtle-spot was given plenty of time to explore both with the group or independently, which was especially good for turtle-watching if that’s what you choose to do (like I did, many times).

Lunch, fresh fruit, and rum punch

After a long morning of snorkeling, lunchtime was very welcome to come along. When signing up for the tour, you’re able to indicate dietary preference. I’m pescatarian (which means the only meat that I consume is seafood), and enjoyed a yummy fish sandwich along with fresh fruit and some tasty rum punch. They also had veggie options for lunch, which was awesome.

While having lunch, you get to relax out on the ocean and recover a bit from the day’s activities before the last few stops. This break was much needed, and we even got to enjoy some music and dancing. Such a good vibe to recharge us for the rest of the day!

By the way, check out the 01:40 spot of the video to see two brave souls flip off of the boat into the water. 😉

The Belize “Titanic”

One of our last stops included an underwater shipwreck dubbed the “Titanic” of Belize. This was admittedly a short stop, but it was still cool to see how marine flora had grown in the openings of the ship; and how many little fish darted in and out. If you’re good at holding your breath, you can even swim further down to explore the shipwreck a bit more closely. I wasn’t able to do that this time, but I’m planning to work on my breathing techniques before my next underwater adventure.

Seahorse Farm + Tarpon “Kiss”

Our very last stop included a visit to the Iguana Reef Inn, an oceanfront hotel and beach bar that is also home to an adorable seahorse sanctuary! These cuties are very hard to spot because they blend into the seaweed, so you’ll have to watch the water closely for movement and then keep an eye on the seahorse to truly appreciate the experience.

It’s hard to see, but look right at the middle of the photo for the yellow and white seahorse!

Near the Iguana Reef Inn, there’s a spot where these huge fish called tarpon thrive due to local protections. As our guides showed us, there’s a trick where you can hold out your hand flat above the water and the tarpon will leap out of the water to “kiss” your hand. Fair warning: I recommend being ready to pull your hand up slightly! When I received my tarpon kiss, it whacked the heel of my hand and actually hurt a bit. Nothing too crazy, but still enough for me to provide a word of caution.

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Overall, my friends and I had an amazing day out on the water and were so pleased with our tour choice. I will say, WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN. And reapply it. And reapply some more. Even though I thought I was being diligent (and even though I am “melanated”), I still managed to get a pretty rough sunburn from being in the water so much.

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Have you ever been snorkeling before? If so, I’d love to hear where you went and how you liked it in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This tour was provided at a discount to the blogger by Cavetubing.bz in exchange for blog content. All opinions are 100% my own!

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