TRAVELS: Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley

A trip to the Caribbean Sea is not complete without seeing the beauty that lies under the waves. No matter how many times you have gone, it is still fascinating to see what lives on the ocean floor. Luckily for us, Ambergris Caye has amazing snorkeling sites less than a 15 minute boat ride from its docks.

Got our SNUBA face on!

Got our SNUBA face on!

Our Groupon package with ECBR included a voucher for snorkeling at Mexico Rocks. After speaking with our friendly Canadian neighbors at the hotel, we chose to upgrade it to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley and to do SNUBA instead of snorkel. What is SNUBA? It’s basically scuba-light. Like scuba, you breath through a tank, enabling you to go deeper underwater. Unlike scuba, the tank is attached to a raft and limits you to 15 feet below the surface, which is plenty deep for a place like Hol Chan. Additionally, SNUBA does not require certification, rather an instructor gives you a 15 minute overview on how to breath, go deeper and how to equalize yourself.

Representing my Sun Devils under the sea.

Representing my Sun Devils under the sea.

Hol Chan Coral

Hol Chan Coral

An eel makes his home at Hol Chan

An eel makes his home at Hol Chan

A beautiful ray

A beautiful ray

Hol Chan is home to a variety of fish, turtles, and coral. A guide led us around much of the reef with our tanks lasting a bit over an hour. Over that period, several eels, rays, beautiful multi-colored fish and even a sea turtle! The water was very clear and the perfect temperature.

The rays and sharks attacking the chum.

The rays and sharks attacking the chum.

Nurse Shark

Nurse Shark

Following our adventure under the water in Hol Chan, it was time to snorkel with sharks! No really! Our fearless guides zipped us over to Shark Ray Alley, a place where fishermen historically would clean their catch of the day and throw the remains overboard. As you can imagine, this free buffet attracted numerous aquatic carnivores. As soon as any boat would patter over, sharks and rays swarmed around, awaiting a free meal. The guides throw some chum over (many believe this to be unethical, I’m indecisive) to keep the creatures around so we can snorkel with them. The sharks were nurse sharks, who are harmless to humans, but the sight of the large marine killer was still impressive. The rays were also beautiful. They move so gracefully through the water, it takes your breath away…

Crystal clear waters in the reef.

Crystal clear waters in the reef.

If you go anywhere in the Caribbean Sea, you must snorkel. Even if you can’t swim, the buoyancy of the salt water will keep you afloat and most places offer rafts to hold. If you have the opportunity to SNUBA (and don’t have a scuba license) DO IT! You see so much more than being on the surface. One final tip, purchase a dripac for your camera!

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