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One of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World, the world's second largest barrier reef runs parallel to Belize´s coast, at distances ranging from a few hundred feet at the northern tip of Ambergris Caye, to nearly forty miles at the southern-most tip of the country. Combined with the clear turquoise waters (which average 79-84 degrees) the variety of life found on the reef make Ambergris Caye a favorite destination for divers and snorkelers.
The most popular destination is Hol Chan Marine Reserve, located 4 miles southeast of San Pedro.
Hol Chan is an underwater park with a 30-foot-deep channel known for its beautiful coral grottos and caves abundant with schools of fish. Divers and snorkelers have the opportunity to swim in what seems like an underwater aquarium, teeming with colorful tropical fish of all sizes and types and beautiful coral formations.
The "cut" (channel) leading out to sea functions as a sort of "fish freeway" for many large fish, including giant groupers, barracuda and nurse sharks, a timid and non-aggressive shark species. Divers and snorkelers may enjoy a close encounter with a sea turtle.
The rocks are home to many moray eels, who sometimes venture out in search of a meal. If you've ever wanted to try your hand at underwater photography, Hol Chan is the place! Even with just a snorkel you can get great underwater pictures.
A special favorite of both scuba divers and snorkelers is the Sand Bar, sometimes referred to as Shark Ray Alley. Skin Diver magazine describes it as one of the seven great animal dive sites in the Caribbean. Hundreds of sting rays of all sizes congregate here, often accompanied by families of nurse sharks.
With a depth of only 8 feet, the Sand Bar offers great photo opportunities to aspiring underwater photographers and beginners learning to snorkel or scuba dive. The Sand Bar is not far from Hol Chan, and only a few minutes by boat from San Pedro.