If you were to think of the best snorkeling in the world, Belize should be one of the first things you think of. Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretches all the way from Cancun to Honduras. Stretching 560 miles (900 km) below the water’s surface, 190 of these miles lie within the boundaries of the Belize Barrier Reef.
Snorkeling in Belize is an experience in itself. No matter where you decide to snorkel you will not be disappointed. With warm crystal clear waters sitting at around 81℉ you will likely find yourself never wanting to leave the water.
Where Are The Best Belize Snorkeling Spots?
As the Mesoamerican Reef sits 980 feet (300 meters) off the coast you will have to charter a boat in order to reach the snorkeling sites. These are fairly inexpensive and deliver world class experiences. All the snorkeling in this area is located on the reef and the offshore atolls. As snorkeling is a relatively family friendly sport most companies will allow children to take part in the adventure. You can rent snorkel gear through these snorkel companies or bring your own gear packages along with you.
1. Ambergris Caye – San Pedro Area
San Pedro is a city located on Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye. The San Pedro area is the most popular snorkeling starting point in the country. While this is a small town it delivers unbeatable snorkeling adventures. The whole island is a water enthusiasts paradise with some of the best clarity being in the north of the island. Here you can expect to find all those luxurious Instagram worthy resorts. A few of the best spots to access from this area are below.
2. Shark Ray Alley
If the idea of larger aquatic animals appeals to you, Shark Ray Alley should be at the top of your list. Sitting in relatively shallow water this area is a feeding frenzy for many of the oceans gentle giants. In addition to some colorful corals, you can expect to see lots of fish, many nurse sharks and lot of rays.
3. Hol Chan Cut
This is a popular area for those who like to freedive below the water’s surface. Offering both shallow and deeper water this area is ideal for those with a bit of experience to handle the currents and change in depths. You will be rewarded with plenty of colorful big fish to see.
4. Tres Cocos
On the edge of the reef, you will find this treasure of a spot. Ideal for experienced snorkelers this area is great for avoiding the crowd as most people shy away from the current. There are lots of fish and things to see when snorkeling here.
5. Blue Hole
The Blue Hole is the most known and talked about area of the reef and quite possibly the most famous dive spot in the world. While it is incredible to dive, it surprisingly can be quite disappointing to snorkel. The real beauty in this area is in the deeper water so if you are looking to snorkel, it may not be the place to go.
6. Belize Snorkeling Cayes South Of Ambergris
If you stay in Ambergris there are some excellent snorkel spots just to the south. The barrier reef here houses some of the most interesting marine life.
Pro Tip: The farther south you go the less visible the water becomes. Keep this in mind when planning your snorkeling trip to Belize.
7. Rendezvous Caye
This is one of the best spots in Belize. It takes a bit to get to but if you can do it we highly recommend it. The spot is centered by a tiny island, it’s basically a patch of sand with 8 or so trees. Be sure to mention the trees when you’re asking about this place. Apparently, there is more than one Rendezvous Caye in Belize and the trees are what make people think of this one.
There are many reefs that you can explore at this spot. Some of the best ones are in the north (and south) of this tiny island. There are tons of fish that call this home including the Caribbean Reef Squid which can change its color to suit its environment (so keep your eyes peeled for it).
8. Colson Caye
The reef in this area is healthy and vibrant with a variation between hard and soft coral, along with a wide range of fish. The water here is ideal at depths of around 13 feet (4 meters).
9. Carrie Bow Caye
This isn’t the best snorkeling spot in the area. It is around a cut in the reef that boats use as a pathway to the shore. So be careful if you decide to snorkel here.
10. Gladden Cayes
This is home to one of the most private islands you can rent. Yes, that’s right – for the price of $2950 (for 2 people) you can have access to your own island. This price includes snorkeling, scuba diving and even PADI certification. The reefs around here are full of fish and marine life and the water is crystal clear.
11. Pompion Caye
If you are a shark lover you will want to make the trek to this spot. It is not uncommon for people to see nurse sharks and rays here. The water can have slightly less visibility than other spots but the chance to see some rare marine life more than makes up for it.
12. Little Water Caye
This place has a great reef that ranges from 6 feet to 20 feet (2 to 6.5 meters). It is in the Placencia region. One of the downfalls of this spot is the water can tend to be a bit cloudy due to the winds. But there are tons of fish and impressive hard coral formations that will keep you busy if you decide to make the trip here.
General Belize Snorkeling Travel Tips
Best Time Of Day For Belize Snorkeling
Just like snorkeling anywhere in the world, the water will be calmest at the beginning of the day. If you have a choice to pick a time to go snorkeling you should choose the morning and spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach or exploring the town.
Best Season For Belize Snorkeling
Like most tropical destinations, Belize has a dry season and a rainy season. You won’t want to go when it’s raining as the runoff can decrease the visibility drastically. It rains from around June to October or November so you should plan your vacation time accordingly. During this time there will also be an increase in mosquitoes which can increase your chances of Malaria.
When planning your trip you have to keep a few things in mind when deciding on a time frame. If you go during the busy time you will be around lots of people in the water and in the town. Most people don’t want this, but it also means that snorkeling excursions will be available. If you go to Belize in a slower month you will have beaches to yourself, but may not be able to get a boat to take you to some of the sights since there aren’t enough people to make it worthwhile for the company.
Where To Stay
If you are going to Belize for snorkeling you will want to stay along the coast. Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular places for snorkelers to start their stay in Belize. It can feel touristy so some people may want to make the journey to Caye Caulker. This is a smaller spot which will give you a feel of a smaller town. Both of these places have snorkeling trips that take you to some of the best snorkeling in the country.
Avoid Belize City
Even though you may want to experience the city nightlife in Belize it can be dangerous. Large cities like Belize City has a high poverty rate and people seem to take notice of tourists and travelers.
Don’t Forget Vaccinations
According to Belize, it doesn’t require any special shots or pills. You should consult your doctor as they will know more about the specific pills and preventative measures you can take. One of these is an anti Malaria pill. Since Belize is a tropical destination you should avoid mosquitoes by using repellents and sleep in a net if necessary.
One thing that is not lacking in Belize is the culture and food. They have a slower pace of life than North America. People here like their Belikin Beer and have a real melting pot of cultures. You will also be happy as most people here can speak at least some English.
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Belize has some of the most famous dive sites in the world. From the Blue Hole to its culture and food this country will constantly amaze you. The water is crystal clear and the marine life will blow you away. Belize should be near the top of your snorkeling bucket list.
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Have you ever been snorkeling in the second largest barrier reef in the world? Tell us your favorite spots in the comment section below.