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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Seagrass meadows with nurse sharks and stingrays
Shallow coral gardens with many fish
Sandy channel edged by mangrove
Shallow reef with moray eels, nurse sharks and stingrays
Fringing reef and seagrass beds
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