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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 miss snorkeling at this location, which is almost always combined with a visit to nearby Shark Ray Alley.

School of horse-eye jacks at Hol Chan Cut
Large schools of horse-eyed jacks are generally present in the channel.

How to get to Hol Chan Cut snorkeling spot?

Hol Chan Cut can only be visited during guided boat tours. Most tours combine snorkeling in Hol Chan Cut and Shark Ray Alley, and leave from San Pedro (Ambergris Caye). It takes 5 to 10 minutes to get there by boat. Several morning and afternoon tours are available every day.

It is easy to reach San Pedro or Caye Caulker from Belize City: several water taxi companies run 10 to 20 trips a day in each direction.

Hol Chan Cut snorkeling map, Belize

Water entrance for snorkeling Hol Chan Cut

Water entrance is from boat ladders. The spot is supervised by reserve guards and your tour organizer will go with you and guide you in the water. Follow his instructions.

Hol Chan Cut snorkeling tips and recommendations

This spot is made up of a relatively deep pass (↕20-25ft/6-8m), cut in a shallower coral reef (↕3-10ft/1-3m). The area around the pass is the most spectacular. The reef overlooks sandy areas where stingrays and nurse sharks swim. Along the reef drop-off, it is not unusual to encounter large green moray eels, which are used to being fed by divers. Horse-eyed jacks shoal by hundreds in the pass.

Green moray eel at Hol Chan Cut
Huge green moray eels can be found in and around the “cut”.

Next to the pass, the sea is shallower and the coral is denser. In places, the seabed is covered with healthy elkhorn coral, almost touching the surface of the water. Known as “reef builders”, they are vital to reef ecosystems, so be very careful to not touch them with your fins.

Among the most colorful fish you may spot at reef are, among dozens of other species, blue tang, Spanish hogfish and the iconic French angelfish. Green sea turtles frequently visit the seagrass beds around the mooring area (↕6-10ft/2-3m). This is also the place where you will have the best chance of seeing a stingray or a visiting spotted eagle ray.

Elkhorn coral at Hol Chan Cut
Hol Chan Cut is known for its beautiful elkhorn coral, particularly healthy at the northern edge of the “cut”.

Since this is a guided visit, follow the instructions of your guide. The spot is very popular with divers and snorkelers, so keep an eye out for other visitors at all times.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

The snorkeling spot is on a barrier reef, some 1 mile off Ambergris Cay. Most tours include water and fruit cuts.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaHol Chan Marine Reserve
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m on the reef, 25ft/7.5m in the channel
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsMarine reserve entrance fee ($10 pp.) + snorkeling tour price (approx. $35 pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

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.