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Cabanas at Pooks Hill lodge in Belize
Cabanas at Pooks Hill lodge in Belize
HURRAY HURRAY a snorkeling day! While the weather was still not completely ideal – the clouds were still spitting, but at least the wind had died down – we were not about to let another day pass by with out venturing into the Belize waters. There are a number of snorkeling locations to visit; we made two separate stops, the first at Hol Chan and then at Shark Ray Alley. There were roughly ten people in our tour group, not including the captain of our boat and the two guides. While in the water, the guides split us into two groups to spread us out. The sites we visited are some of the most popular – there were other tour groups in addition to our own exploring the sites. It was somewhat crowded, but in no ways jeopardized my experience. I can, however, see how these sites might become overwhelmed with snorkelers and divers during peak season. Thankfully, the local operators have a good offering of departure times to try and prevent over-crowding. You can ask their advice on the best time to visit the sites – they will surely have sufficient recommendations.

Belize is known worldwide for its snorkeling and diving – the world's second largest barrier reef lays just off its shoreline. The fish at Hol Chan were certainly interesting (we also saw an eagle ray…very cool), but I was most impressed by the coral formations. At Shark Ray Alley you will see just that: sharks and rays, specifically nurse sharks and stingray. The marine life has absolutely no fear of humans, and the chum* supplied by our guide, only encouraged their presence. The wildlife is very familiar with visitors, but that does not mean you should totally disregard the fact that they are wild animals and have no moral issues about biting an unsuspecting tourist. We brought little underwater disposable cameras, which took great pictures, even in overcast light. (Note: buy these before you depart. I saw the same cameras for sale in Ambergris for twice the amount I paid for them in the States. Also, be sure to bring film from home – also very expensive to buy once in the country. As my grandpa would say, That's how they get ya.)

*I was a little surprised at this, and have mixed feelings about feeding the marine life at Shark Ray Alley. If you do not approve of such methods, I recommend asking the local tour operators their position on feeding the animals at Shark Ray Alley. You are sure to find an operator who is against doing so, or who would adhere to your request not to feed the animals on your snorkeling tour. There are plenty of companies to choose from…

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