Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the second largest reef in the world and one of the best places for snorkeling. It covers about 13,632 acres that are protected to conserve marine life.
What makes it extremely interesting is that you can observe a great variety of marine species from all kinds of fish to manta rays and sharks.
The good news is that it is accessible to everyone and it is not necessary to have any diving knowledge to visit it.
So here’s what you should know before visiting Belize’s most famous marine reserve:
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How to visit this place
As I told you, the good news is that it is accessible to anyone, the bad news for some travelers is that you can only get to know this place through a tour.
As it is a highly protected marine reserve, access is not allowed to people without certified guides or hired tours. I’m serious! There are patrol boats that are constantly supervising the groups that are snorkeling.
Tours to visit this magnificent reef can be found from: Caulker Caye, San Pedro and Belize City. In other words, you must first arrive at any of these 3 sites to live the experience.
How to get to Hol Chan!
You must take a flight to Belize City. We have found the best prices here
From the city you will have to take a ferry to Cayo Caulker or San Pedro. On either of the 2 islets it is easy to find options to visit the marine reserve.
Where is it?
The second largest reef in the world is located 6 kilometers from San Pedro, 8-10 kilometers from Caulker Caye and 60 kilometers from Belize City.
How to choose a good Tour
WARNING! This is the most famous and most contracted activity in Belize, you will find many companies that sell the excursion to Hol Chan and the shark reef and within the offers there are many variants.
That’s why I want to give you some tips for you to choose the best option:
We believe it is best to use the tour with the fewest stops, there are tours with 3 stops, 5 stops and even 8 stops. The duration of all of them is the same and so is the price.
Most people believe that if the tour costs the same and lasts the same, it is in their best interest to make as many stops as possible. The bad thing about multi-stop tours is that you are rushing and in a hurry and you may not have the time you need to enjoy each stop.
Of course this depends on the type of traveler, we recommend a 3-stop tour because it gives you enough time to enjoy Hol Chan, the shark reef and the coral garden (when in season they take you to see manatees).
Beware of local tour scams
If you decide to contract with an agency directly in caulker cay it is important that you know this: Tours with many stops usually include places you can visit without the use of the tour, for example:
- Hol Chan
- Shark reef
- Tarpon fish observatory (located on Caulker Cay and free of charge)
- Seahorse Observatory (located in Corker Key, free of charge)
- Coral garden
As you can see they include places that are free and can be visited without the use of a tour, if you decide to hire a multi-stop tour make sure it offers activities that you cannot do on your own.
Book online or directly at the destination?
We recommend that you do it online for 2 reasons:
- You can secure your place online regardless of whether it is high season or not.
- Although there are several local companies that are worthwhile, there are also many scams in the supply so if you want to avoid falling into one of them better book online.
‼ Secure reservation of Tour Hol Chan (in English) ‼‼.
We recommend this tour because we know it is reliable and because it focuses on the 3 important snorkeling stops: Hol Chan, Shark Reef and Coral Garden.
If you prefer to hire directly at the destination, then look for Raggamuffin Tours.
What to expect from Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Lots of marine beauty and an unforgettable experience. The excursion to the second largest reef in the world is a guarantee that you can see marine life.
In Hol Chan you can see a lot of fish and marine fauna, in the shark reef you can observe nurse sharks and in the coral garden you will have free time to explore on your own.
During the tour you will be served a typical Belizean meal and an exquisite Rum Punch.
Among the animals that you can find during the tour are:
- More than 160 species of fish
- Different types of coral
- Short-beaked dolphins
- Pantropical spotted dolphins
- West Indian manatee
- Eagle stripes
- Manta rays
- Moray eels
- Sea anemones
- A large number of corals
- Nurse sharks
Other things to visit in Belize nearby
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