One of the best ways to enjoy the reef and the marine life in the waters around the island, snorkeling on Ambergris Caye is an activity that is safe for most people to enjoy.
While some visitors carry their own gear, facilities are available that rent equipment and offer guides to the very best spots to visit to see the most gorgeous coral and remarkable underwater creatures. Ambergris Caye is the largest of a collection of hundreds of islands off the northeastern mainland of Belize, and the nearby reefs are some of the world's most beautiful regions for snorkeling.
Local Coral Reefs
The reef off the shores of the island is impressive. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is only about 4 miles to the south from the town of San Pedro in Ambergris Caye. This reserve has protected the reef, letting the coral develop into a mature habitat that attracts many creatures native to the region such as sea turtles and large fish.
Additionally, Shark Ray Alley is also a part of the Hol Chan Marin Reserve. This area is home to a wide range of rays and nurse sharks, all of which are docile and gentle. Many snorkelers find that these friendly creatures actually swim toward them and seem happy to be handled and to swim beside humans, especially when guides bring along some of their favorite treats and feed them. Visitors who bring an underwater camera can get some great shots of these gentle creatures.
The Sport of Snorkeling
Most snorkeling is done over water of various depths, and knowing how to swim is advised. Still, most people can dip over the side of the boat and swim near their water craft and peer into the water below them to see what they can see.
The sport only requires one simple piece of equipment besides a bathing suit. A diving mask is the only totally necessary item. This mask has a clear window over the eyes for peering into the water's depths.
Three other items usually come with the snorkeling equipment: a snorkel and two swim fins, one for each foot. The snorkel is a breathing tube that fits in the mouth and reaches beside the neck behind the head to the air above the water's surface when the face is pointed downward into the water. A convenient tool, the snorkel relieves the swimmer from having to lift his or her face above the water's surface for each breath. Then, the swim fins help to propel the snorkeler through the water smoothly and easily.
The real purpose of snorkeling is appreciating nature's wonders that are found underwater. The reefs near Ambergris Caye offer much to discover. Snorkelers not only get to see the coral and the gorgeous fish of many colors, they can see moray eels and rays that scurry from their hiding place in the sand.
Snorkeling the Reef
Enjoying the amazing creatures along the reef and Shark Ray Alley, snorkelers have an incredible experience outdoors. Those who choose a vacation where they can go snorkeling on Ambergris Caye off of northeastern Belize get up close to some of the most spectacular sights in the natural world.