Belize offers some great snorkeling along the country’s 192-mile reef, where snorkelers can view exotic corals and sponges, as well as tropical fish, nurse sharks and rays.
Best Snorkeling in Belize
Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the entire world. It stretches about 192 miles, nearly the length of the country. All of the snorkeling throughout the country is located on the reef or offshore atolls and most require a boat to gain safe access.
The most highly recommended spot for Belize snorkeling is Ambergris Caye. It provides easy access to the reef and great accommodations for those looking to spend a few days snorkeling and exploring everything the cay has to offer. Shark Ray Alley is a great shallow water snorkeling area that attracts docile nurse sharks, Southern Stingrays and tropical fish. If you’re lucky enough to get a guide who feeds the sharks or rays, they’ll swim right around you and you can even touch them. Hol Chan is another snorkeling spot that you can gain access to from Ambergris Caye, but it can be a bit crowded with boats and snorkelers. This marine reserve is easily accessed by boat and as you enter deeper waters, you can see large fish, such as Barracudas. For beginners, Mexico Rocks is a good Belize snorkeling destination in Ambergris Caye. You can get there by taking a short boat ride from San Pedro and it is one of the few spots located off the reef. The depth here is around 12 feet and it is protected from large ocean swells. Even in the shallow water, you can catch views of turtles, lobsters and nurse sharks, as well as colorful corals.
There are also many other great snorkeling spots that are located south of Ambergris Caye. Rendezvous Caye is an extremely tiny tropical island located between Dangriga and Belize City. You can get there from a boat tour or private charter to experience great snorkeling. The reef is healthy with coral, and while there is not a huge abundance of fish, there is a wide variety. You might even get to see a Caribbean Reef Squid or two making their way across the ocean floor.
Though not as good as Rendezvous, Colson Caye is another good Belize snorkeling destination. The best snorkeling here is located at the southernmost reef area of the Caye, inside of, but close to the barrier reef. There is a healthy reef, with limited fish, but a great variety of hard and soft corals, fans and sponges. You may catch the occasional Barracuda hanging out, but this is more a site to view the coral and sponges than fish.
Carrie Bow Caye is a fair snorkeling spot, but do not expect to be blown away. It is located on a barrier reef, and the south end is the best area to snorkel Carrie Bow Caye. The reef is healthy in most parts and there is a good variety of coral. If you’re lucky you can even catch a glimpse of some Queen Triggerfish and Trumpetfish.
How to get to Belize
Philip Goldson International Airport, located about 10 miles northwest of the center of Belize City, is the airport that handles all international flights into the country. Note that travelers who are not from Belize must pay fees totaling about US$40 when flying internationally out of Belize City. You could also cross over from Mexico into Belize at one of two official border-crossing points. Car rentals in Belize can be very costly, so consider taking a bus or taxi around the country once you have landed.
The Best Time for Belize Snorkeling
The best time to visit Belize for snorkeling is definitely during the dry season. The rainy season lasts from about the end of May, well into November and brings hurricanes and mosquitoes with it. Temperatures average +25C (77F) throughout the year and the average annual water temperature is +27C (81F).
No matter the time you choose to visit Belize, the snorkeling is something you definitely will never forget!