Hol Chan Cut

At the heart of a marine reserve since 1987, this spot is (of all the easily accessible ones) among the finest in Belize. In and around the pass, moray eels, green turtles, nurse sharks and stingrays glide their way through hundreds of horse-eye jacks and elkhorn coral in perfect condition. If you stay in San Pedro or Caye Caulker, don’t leave without a visit to the spot, which is almost always combined with a visit to Shark Ray Alley.
How to get there?

Hol Chan Cut can only be visited during organized excursions accompanied by a guide. Most excursions (2 hours 30 minutes) generally include a stop at Shark Ray Alley and leave from San Pedro (Ambergris Caye). It takes 5 to 10 minutes to get there by boat and costs $45 per person (including a $10 entrance fee for the reserve). A dozen tour organizers and diving clubs share the market and organize morning and afternoon departures every day. Some tour organizers in Caye Caulker also include this excursion in their package deal (20 minutes by boat). It is easy to reach San Pedro or Caye Caulker from Belize City: several watertaxi companies run 10 to 20 trips a day in each direction.

Water entrance

You enter the water directly from the boat. The spot is permanently supervised by reserve guards and your tour organizer will go with you and guide you in the water. Follow his instructions.

Aerial view


This spot is made up of a relatively deep pass (↕20-25ft/6-8m), carved out in a coastal bench with a lower water level (↕3-10ft/1-3m). The area around the pass is the most spectacular. The coral overlooks a sandy seabed where stingray and nurse sharks swim. Along the reef drop-off, it is not unusual to come across fine specimens of green moray eels, which are used to being fed by divers. Horse-eyed jacks, forming shoals of several hundred fish, take up their home in the waters. If you free dive, you can ask your guide to show you the small rocky arch (↕12ft/4m), which is easy to pass through, and where dozens of big grunts hide out.

Around the pass, the water is less deep and the coral is denser. In places, the seabed is covered with impressive elkhorn coral beds, touching the surface of the water. The coral here (known as “reef builders”) is vital to life in the reefs and is fragile and strictly protected, so you mustn’t touch it. Among the most colorful fish you should come across at the spot are, among dozens of other species, blue tang, Spanish hogfish and the elegant French angelfish.

Snorkeling Report Shark Hol Chan Cut Belize
Nurse shark at Hol Chan Cut

At some periods of the year, green turtles visit the seagrass beds around the boat mooring area (↕6-10ft/2-3m). This is also the place where you will have the best chance of seeing a southern stingray or a spotted eagle ray.

Since this is a guided visit, follow the instructions of your guide about the areas to avoid (the passes, opening onto the ocean, are often swept by strong currents). The spot is very popular with divers and snorkelers, so keep an eye out for other swimmers all the time.

Restaurants & accommodation

The snorkeling spot is on a barrier reef, facing Ambergris Caye, some 1 mile from shore. Most excursions included water and pieces of fruit as refreshments.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    intermediary level
  • Protected area
  • Maximum depth
    10ft (3m) on the reef, 25ft (7.5m) in the channel
  • Water entrance
    From a boat
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
    Very high
  • Access costs
    Marine reserve entrance fee ($10 pp.) + excursion price (approx. $35 pp.)
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Hol Chan Cut

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Nurse shark
Ginglymostoma cirratum
Southern stingray
Dasyatis americana
Spotted eagle ray
Aetobatus narinari
Green moray
Gymnothorax funebris
French angelfish
Pomacanthus paru
Great barracuda
Sphyraena barracuda
Yellowtail blue snapper
Paracaesio xanthura
Schoolmaster snapper
Lutjanus apodus
Horse-eye jack
Caranx latus
Spanish hogfish
Bodianus rufus
Lachnolaimus maximus
Bluestriped grunt
Haemulon sciurus
Queen triggerfish
Balistes vetula
Snubnose pompano
Trachinotus blochii
Spot-fin porcupinefish
Diodon hystrix
Sergeant major
Abudefduf saxatilis
Bermuda chub
Kyphosus sectatrix
Elkhorn coral
Acropora palmata
Bluehead wrasse
Thalassoma bifasciatum
Rainbow parrotfish
Scarus guacamaia
Show all species
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?