The Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, is one of the most ecologically diverse marine habitats on the planet and a popular attraction for visitors to Belize. A section of the reef approximately four miles south of San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a protected habitat that offers divers and snorkelers a unique chance to interact with more than 160 species of fish, three species of sea turtles, three marine mammals and a plethora of colorful fauna.
The name “Hol Chan” comes from a Maya term meaning “Little Channel” as the area is composed of a natural break in the coral. The shallow waters and snow white sandy seabed make snorkeling and diving a truly spectacular event. Even first-time divers can experience the thrill of being greeted by curious snapper, grouper and jackfish or exploring rocky overhangs where green eels and lobsters make their home.
Just a few minutes’ boat ride from Hol Chan is Shark Ray Alley, a shallow break in the coral reef that is home to large groups of different species of rays. Groups of curious and playful nurse sharks inhabit this area, often approaching and swimming with divers. Even a first-time diver remaining motionless on the seafloor can marvel at the site of being completely surrounded by large schools of brightly colored fish, swirling stingrays, and groups of nurse sharks.
One of the finest accommodations on the island of Ambergris Caye is the award-winning resort of Banyan Bay. Banyan Bay offers guests every modern luxury along with friendly and world-class professional service. Banyan Bay also offers a guided tour of the beautiful Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley that is ideal both for experienced as well as first-time divers.