Hol Chan Marine Reserve picture
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Key Info

Ambergris Caye

Details

Swimming/Pools Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.4scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Facing the southern edge of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the oldest reserve in Belize. Its name translates to "Little Channel," in reference to a coral-filled gap in Belize's immense barrier reef. Encompassing 3 square miles, this densely populated aquatic zone is a sanctuary for stingrays, eels and sharks, among other creatures.

The reserve is separated into four parts: the mangroves, the reef, the sea-grass beds and the most recently added Shark Ray Alley. Because of its diversity, the reserve has flourished as a hot spot for scuba divers and snorkelers. Recent travelers said Hol Chan Marine's crystal clear waters and abundant sea life make it a prime spot for snorkeling and diving.

The reserve is located about 4 miles southeast of San Pedro in Ambergris Caye. To get here, you'll need to book a boat and a guide from Caye Caulker. A visitor's center, which can provide more information on the reserve and its inhabitants, is located on Caribena Street in San Pedro and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

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#1 Ambergris Caye

With its plentiful outdoor activities, this 25-mile-long island off the coast of northern Belize caters to the snorkeling and diving set. The island was originally inhabited by the Mayans to serve as a far-extending trade route, spanning from present-day Mexico to as far south as Honduras. Today, Ambergris Caye welcomes thousands of visitors seeking easy access to the barrier reef that surrounds the island. Snorkelers and intrepid divers alike will want to explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Most of the diving and snorkeling shops and instructors are found in San Pedro, including the Belize Pro Dive Center, Tuff E Nuff Tours and Scuba School Belize, which all offer a variety of daily excursions. Prices vary depending on the type and length of tours, plus any certification fees for diving.

When you're not underwater, explore San Pedro, Ambergris' main town. Here you'll find beachside restaurants, lounges, shops and luxury hotels. You'll notice the difference between this tourist hub and the more urban Belize City as soon as you step onto its cobblestone streets, which are filled with golf carts and bicycles, rather than cars.

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