Snorkeling on Ambergris Caye is one of the most fascinating activities in which to partake when visiting Belize. The snorkeling and dive sites are easily accessed, and some of the finest are right off of the Caye. The combination of clear azure water, diverse marine life and premium weather conditions each conspire to set Belize apart as a premier snorkeling and diving vacation destination. The average water temperature of the reef is between 79° in February and 84° August through September, while the water depth is between 50 and 200 feet deep. It is filled with both hard and soft coral formations and stunning waterscapes.
Oh the Things You’ll See!
Gorgonians, hard corals, tunicates and sea fans and a startling variety of shellfish inhabit the clear, coastal waters. The prevalence of a species in a particular reef is what gives that dive site its name. For example, there are dive sites at which grouper tend to congregate, and another where stingrays are too numerous to count. Loggerhead turtles, spotted eagle rays and nurse sharks are usually out and about; and the snorkeler should expect to see several of these majestic sea creatures. Although sightings are rare, hammerhead and Caribbean reef sharks also make their home in these coastal waters and are only occasionally seen by a lucky diver or two.
In The Alley
The adventure of snorkeling on Ambergris Caye would not be complete without a dip in Shark Ray Alley. This dazzling and unique snorkel / dive site has been touted as one of the top seven “animal dives” in all of the Caribbean. The sharks and rays are abundant and have quite an affinity for people. More than just a “polite” tolerance for snorkelers and divers these creatures actually seek out human interaction. With a wing span of up to four feet the rays, seemingly gentle giants, like to engage the divers by swimming with, at and around them.
Some friendly nurse sharks and rays may act is if they want to be petted. Please remember that they are not tame creatures, and you are in their “alley”, therefore it is advisable not to become too familiar with them. However, just being in the water as they swim beside you is cause enough for the adrenaline to rush and stories that will be told forever to be created.
Be Mindful and Eco-Conscious
A distinguished official once opined, “The sea is not ours to do with as we please; we have borrowed it from our children.”
Having said that, please keep the following in mind while snorkeling on Ambergris Caye and Shark Ray Alley:
• Don’t trash the ocean.
• If you see non-biodegradable items on the sea floor, please pick them up.
• Be extremely vigilant in taking care not to damage the coral.
• Leave your diving gloves in your bag―you won’t be as tempted to touch the sea creatures.
Finally, do enjoy your time in Belize. There is no place like it in the Americas for communing with sea life among the delicate resplendent coral reefs in the warm turquoise waters.