Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley

Ambergris Caye Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 10 › view all entries
Brain Coral at Hol Chan

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Located off the southern end of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan is a very popular spot for snorkeling (and diving) on the Belize Barrier Reef.  Hol Chan is Mayan for "little channel" which signifies the natural cut in Zone A of the reef.  This has created a unique and diverse area for marine life, which is why it is such a popular spot with snorkelers and divers.  The Hol Chan area is divided in three distinct zones but they have now included the second stop on the trip, Shark Ray Alley, as Zone D. 

I've done this trip three years in a row now and managed to have a whole new experience each year.

Sea Turtle at Hol Chan
  I will say the first year was not so great given we did an afternoon trip and on the tail end of a tropical storm-the water was murky, I was seasick, and well... I ended up ensuring we had more than enough chum for the sharks! :-)    This year was so much better (visibility wise) and completely relaxing as it was our little group from the hotel and no one else.  We had a couple potential non-snorkelers in our group so we requested the glass bottom boat tour guide so they could see some of the marine life on the way out.  That ended up being an awesome decision as we saw a hammerhead shark within the reef, not too far from shore.  We tried to get a picture but it was impossible and he was gone in a flash.  Our friends who own the resort we stay at said he's only seen one once or twice in all the years they've lived there.
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
  He said we were very lucky to have that opporunity. 

Shark Ray Alley

Seeing that hammerhead did prove to be a sign of good luck as we prepared for the second snorkel stop on the tour, Shark Ray Alley.  This is where we ended up seeing several sea turtles and some of the largest rays.  Shark Ray Alley is basically a sandy bottomed area in the reef where nurse sharks and stingrays tend to congregate.   Reports indicate the area was traditionally used by local fisherman who cleaned their nets prior to returning to port.  The sharks and rays were attracted by the abundance of food and now they practically swarm the tour boats on approach as the guides feed them to ensure visitors have ample opportunities to see them. 

I wish the pictures had come out better but the underwater camera didn't perform so well (either that or it was due to operator error which wasn't me of course!! HA HA). 

 

Reephboy says:
Great HCMR blog! So glad you love it. You're right, seeing the hammerhead was super lucky. In hundreds of snorkels there I never saw one, though I heard stories of it and the rare manatee sighting. Did see a Lemon shark and Bull shark there once though.
Posted on: May 24, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Brain Coral at Hol Chan
Brain Coral at Hol Chan
Sea Turtle at Hol Chan
Sea Turtle at Hol Chan
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Looking back at Ambergris heading …
Looking back at Ambergris heading…
Hol Chan
Hol Chan
Lobster at Hol Chan
Lobster at Hol Chan
Sting Ray at Hol Chan
Sting Ray at Hol Chan
Sea Turtle at Hol Chan
Sea Turtle at Hol Chan
Hol Chan
Hol Chan
Hol Chan
Hol Chan
Notice how shallow the coral is at…
Notice how shallow the coral is a…
Sea turtle hiding at Hol Chan
Sea turtle hiding at Hol Chan
Sea Turtle hiding -Hol Chan
Sea Turtle hiding -Hol Chan
Petting the sharks at Shark Ray Al…
Petting the sharks at Shark Ray A…
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Large stingray at Shark Ray Alley
Large stingray at Shark Ray Alley
Grouper
Grouper
The big grouper that hangs out by …
The big grouper that hangs out by…
Shark Ray Alley
Shark Ray Alley
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Sea Turtle at Shark Ray Alley
Nurse Shark at Shark Ray Alley
Nurse Shark at Shark Ray Alley
Ambergris Caye
photo by: travelman727