The Split is one of the rare spots accessible directly from the shore in Belize. This channel, « splitting » Caye Caulker, is a popular bathing area prized by both tourist and local people. The channel, (relatively deep, and where you could spot a stingray) and the surrounding mangroves makes The Split an excellent opportunity for snorkeling.

How to get there?

It is easy to reach Caye Caulker from Belize City: several watertaxi companies run 10 to 20 trips a day in each direction (about 1:15). If you stay in Ambergris Caye, you can also reach Caye Caulker by boat and do the round trip the same day. Once you are ashore at Caye Caulker, you will need to walk approximately 10 minutes to arrive at the northern tip of the island (where is settled the “Lazy Lizard” restaurant), along the main road towards the north (to the right when you reach the road).

Schoolmaster snapper at the Split, Caye Caulker

Water entrance

Several ladder have been settled to enter the water in the area. The wooden pier of Lazy Lizard is the best option. The area to explore covers the channel and the surrounding mangroves, but watch out for boats when you reach the pass, as many boats are crossing in the area.

The Split snorkeling map, Belize

Exploration

This spot is made up of a relatively deep pass (↕6-8m), carved out in a mangrove with a lower water level (↕2-4ft/0.5-1m). We recommend exploring the edge of the mangrove, on each side of the channel.

If you get into the water from the restaurant pier, you can begin by exploring the area to the left of the restaurant, when facing the channel. Swim towards the mangrove. The sand is replaced little by little by seagrass and small corals, lightly colonized by small sponges and sea anemone.

Checkered puffer at the Split, Caye Caulker

Near the mangrove, the area is very shallow (↕2ft/0,5m). Swim along the mangrove edge and, here and there, you will surely spot a pufferfish, a small group of sergeant major or a couple of foureye butterflyfish. Move closer to the mangrove to discover an atypical and almost disquieting decor: the atmosphere grows darker and the coral gives way to a forest of roots. Given the multitude of fish larva to be seen in this area, you will realize that the mangroves are genuine nurseries for a great many fish. You can only see this spectacle from the edge of the mangrove, since it becomes quickly impenetrable.

Retrace your steps and cross carefully the channel, watching out for boats that come and go on this area. See if you can spot the starfish that live in the sandy areas. In the central part of the channel, you may come across young southern stingrays, but they always swim off straight away into the ocean blue, darting above the sand and the seagrass.

Starfish at the Split, Caye Caulker

You can now explore the mangrove area opposite to the restaurant, which offers more or less the same underwater landscape than the first area.

The current is present at the center of the channel, but isn’t normally strong enough to destabilize a swimmer, especially one wearing swim fins. If the current is stronger, do not cross the channel and go back to the shore.

The Split is is a very popular recreational site (particularly the week-ends), so watch out for the boats, kayaks, swimmers and the other snorkelers when you are in the water.

Restaurants and accommodation

There is a wide range of budget accommodation and restaurants on Caye Caulker. The Lazy Lizard restaurant is facing the spot.



Species you may spot while snorkeling The Split
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Southern stingray Dasyatis americana  
Great barracuda Sphyraena barracuda  
Doctorfish tang Acanthurus chirurgus  
Bar jack Carangoides ruber  
Foureye butterflyfish Chaetodon capistratus  
Beau gregory Stegastes leucostictus  
Sergeant major Abudefduf saxatilis  
Schoolmaster snapper Lutjanus apodus  
Bluestriped grunt Haemulon sciurus  
Checkered puffer Sphoeroides testudineus  

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth3ft/1m near the mangrove, 25ft/8m in the channel
  • Water entranceEasy, from a wooden ladder
  • Potential DangersBoats
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • 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.