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Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

star-5
621 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
A Worthwhile Marine Adventure
Kristin, Jul 2021
Belize Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley Snorkel Tour - Ambergris Caye
One of the most amazing experiences of our lives! We would highly recommend this tour. While snorkeling the Marine Reserve we had the opportunity to see a manatee, sea turtles, sharks, rays, a lobster, a Morey eel, and more fish and corals than we could count!
star-5
Must do!
Andrea_A, Jul 2021
Hol Chan Full-Day Bucket List Snorkeling and Marine Life Tour
We had an awesome time! John and Charles were great, very knowledgeable and fun! We saw so much more than I expected and had plenty of time to enjoy all of the variety of each stop. Thanks so much!
star-5
Awesome snorkeling!!
Pamela_H, Jul 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel and Caye Caulker Tour 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
Snorkeling was awesome. Guides were fantastic. Exceeded all of our expectations! Would definitely do this tour again.
star-4
Great experience overall
Mark_M, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
The captain and dive guide were great. The sailboat was awesome too. Highly recommend this excursion.
star-5
Fun and relaxing with great guides and boat!
Isaac, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
We really enjoyed this excursion! If you get there early you can grab the two best seats on the front of the boat. Our guides were fun and knowledgeable about sea life. We saw sea turtles, sharks, rays, eels, schools of fish and more! Would go again.
star-5
Great snorkeling!
Kwame_C, Jun 2021
Belize Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley Snorkel Tour - Ambergris Caye
Great snorkeling! The guide was very knowledgeable on everything in the water. We saw so many fish, sting ray and nurse sharks.
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
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
Snorkeling fun
Ngan_H, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
Had an amazing day! Saw sting rays, manatees, turtles, nurse sharks, lots of fish! My friends and I loved David! He gave us great recommendations for food and things to do. He’s so passionate about his country and it shows!
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
Amazing
Angie, Jun 2021
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Snorkel Tour on the 40' Sirena Azul Sailboat
Victor & the Capt were both great! Victor held onto me the whole time & pointed out every animal, he made sure I felt safe & created a wonderful experience. I truly appreciate his help & dedication...once in a lifetime experience I'll never forget! Thank u Victor! Your great!
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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