Once a common area for fishermen to clean their catch of the day, Shark Ray Alley is now a popular snorkeling site teeming with nurse sharks, rays and marine life. Located inside Hol Chan Marine Park, the country’s first established marine reserve, spanning roughly three square miles, this is a perfect half-day activity for all ages.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
A short 15-minute boat ride south of San Pedro or 30 minutes North of Caye Caulker; Hol Chan is very accessible. Upon arrival, you are in for a warm welcome! A frenzy of sharks and rays surround the boat and seagull’s flock above, all awaiting a special treat from the tour guide…not to worry it is just bait!
Moreover, Nurse sharks are the most popular species of shark at this reserve. The sandy floors make for the perfect hang out spot for these laidback and docile creatures who enjoy laying on the reef floor and finding food hidden in the corals. With some of their favorite dishes being fish, crab, lobster, and conch, there is no worry here so visitors happily share the water!
The shallow waters of the reserve have a maximum depth of 30 feet which makes for great visibility when snorkeling – not to mention the guaranteed encounter with a shark.
So, for first-timers…just relax, grab your snorkel, goggles, and flippers and jump straight on in!
Feel your heart race as sharks averaging four to six feet swim arm’s length alongside you. Though they may seem menacing at first sight, these creatures are majestic and passive. Beautiful stingrays, with a wingspan of roughly four feet, glide swiftly amongst the cluster of sharks, making for a truly amazing underwater experience. With luck on your side, you can also spot loggerhead turtles, horse-eyed jacks, groupers and schools of many other tropical fish, which together create a colorful and vibrant underwater scene that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Whether diving or snorkeling, at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, you are in for a treat!
Full and half-day tours can be booked at your hotel or also at any local dive or tour operator on the islands.
Looking for an up-close and personal encounter with Sharks? Shark Ray Alley is the place to go.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN ON THE ISLAND
Written by Louise Roe