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Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

star-5
576 Reviews
Caribena Street, Ambergris Caye, Belize

The Basics

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.

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Recent reviews from experiences in Ambergris Caye

star-5
Amazing experience
Christopher_H, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel and Caye Caulker Tour 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
This experience was amazing. The crew was so friendly and helpful and attentive. The snorkeling was full of sights and close to the coast. The side trip to Caye Caulker was wonderful. My wife and I took our two daughters, 5 and 9, and they had a great time as well. Really can’t say enough about this experience and how it was just perfect in every way. A day we will always remember.
star-5
Best snorkel trip EVER!
Mike_M, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Full-Day Bucket List Snorkeling and Marine Life Tour
I have snorkeled all over (Hawaii, Cozumel, Cancun, USVI, Aruba) and hands down, this was the best snorkel trip ever! Saw a manatee, tons of coral, fish, rays, & nurse sharks. Our guide, Salam, was incredible w his narration and putting us in the best spots. Do this trip!!!
star-5
Fantastic
Sandra_W, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
Wonderful experience!! Guides were accommodating and helpful!! The sailing was gorgeous and relaxing.
star-5
Awesome tour
Jana_B, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
Victor and David were great guides. Sailing was so fun. Shark Ray Alley was awesome. Great tour. Thanks!
star-5
Our experience
Josephine_Z, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Full-Day Bucket List Snorkeling and Marine Life Tour
Wonderful guides,great views,safe and fun,love it,we had a great time. Would recommend this tour. The sea creatures were amazing to see the overall experience was awesome.
star-5
Highly recommend
Danyon_S, Jun 2021
Belize Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley Snorkel Tour - Ambergris Caye
I really enjoyed our experience. The captain ‘Burger’ and his Cree were very knowledgeable. They were very helpful in instruction from everything to sunscreen to being in the water. We started a practice snorkel and saw a turtle! They gave everyone fruit and water to help stay hydrated. The sharks were amazing! So many! I couldn’t believe it! Not scary. The sharks are docile. The half day was a perfect amount of time to be out and get a great experience.
star-5
Wonderful
Brenda_C, Apr 2021
Belize Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley Snorkel Tour - Ambergris Caye
Guide showed us all the different kinds of fish. The sharks and stingrays were a highlight to the day. It was amazing
star-4
Knowledgeable guides and great tour
chris_e, Apr 2021
Full-Day Snorkeling at Hol Chan - Not for Cruise Ship Guests
Lot of background info from guides. Explaining what we will see and describing the wildlife. Was somewhat disappointed in the lack of colorful coral, but that’s not the guides’ fault. Extra add-on feeding tarpon (awesome) and birds(neat). Guides did a good job leading us in the water and pointing out turtles, rays, etc
star-5
Fun Sail in the Sun
Binta_C, Apr 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel and Caye Caulker Tour 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
My group of girlfriends and I had a great Saturday with the Sirena Azul team! They were amazing at helping us while snorkeling and suggesting places during our stop at Caye Caulker. They provided entertainment and fun during the sail and were very professional. I would definitely highly recommend this boat tour!
star-5
Great trip
Lucas_C, May 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
The whole trip was great. Seeing sea turtles, barracudas and sharks was beautiful and very memorable. The boat crew is professional and very enjoyable
star-5
Pretty bad ass! Bring Sun screen
Corey_G, May 2021
Hol Chan Full-Day Bucket List Snorkeling and Marine Life Tour
Tour guides were amazing! They were knowledgeable, funny, laid back and nice. We swam with manatees, nurse Sharks, stingrays, and Dolphins. The coral reef was amazing and beautiful. We even saw seahorses! The guides provided free fresh conche ceviche and rum punch that was delicious!
star-5
Best Excursion of our Cruise
Sarah_M, Mar 2020
Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley Snorkeling Tour
The crew was excellent. The captain had a keen eye and spotted turtles, manatees and a crocodile for us. It felt like we got the VIP treatment. I couldn't have been happier!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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