Caye Caulker Snorkeling in Belize

Caye Caulker Snorkeling in Belize - Barrier Reef, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and Shark Ray Alley
If you are heading to Belize, you’ve probably done research on Caye Caulker Snorkeling excursions. This was how ours started…

“These sharks typically don’t bite. Respect their space.” Final words from our snorkel guide before he allowed us to jump off the left side of the boat as they were “chumming” the waters with yummy sardines on the right side to get the nurse sharks to come to our boat. Maybe we should have just stayed at the Lazy Lizard….

How did we get here? 

The weather on Caye Caulker had been riddled with rain showers the past couple of days, but that didn’t take away from the vibrancy and charm of the island.

With our livers desperately needing a “rest” (see what else we were doing here), we wanted to find a day activity that involved snorkeling. Plus, Samantha was anxious to see the Barrier Reef and be able to explore the underwater realms of Central American waters.

caye caulker snorkeling

Spanning over 180 miles (300 kilometers), the Belize Barrier Reef is one of the largest in the world, second only to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. This means that there is a wide variety of sea life and corals that help keep the diverse ecosystem intact.

From sharks and rays to turtles and hundreds of fish, you can easily get a half or full-day tour from Caye Caulker to “hot spots” along the Barrier Reef.

The Caye Caulker snorkeling options for day trips are plentiful on the island and we settled on Caveman Snorkeling Tours. With a 94% Excellent rating on TripAdvisor, Caveman was our top pick.

The full-day snorkeling tours (10:30-3:30) were packed, encompassing 8 stops that include: Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark and Ray Alley, Seahorse Farm, Tarpon Feeding, Coral Gardens, Chatos Area, Manatee searches, and a shipwreck.

seahorses

Seahorses & Tarpon 

Once we are suited up with flippers and masks, we are escorted to our boat for the day, called Cave Daddy.

First stop on the Caye Caulker snorkeling excursion – the seahorse farm.

You may very well know that seahorses are small and usually colorful, but what you fail to comprehend from the Little Mermaid is just how small these things actually are.

These creatures are so small that they were nearly impossible to see from the dock. I’m sure these critters were cute, but know going in, they are hard to spot.

From the invisible seahorses, we motored on to feed the tarpon. What is so special about a tarpon?

Captain Ronny asked who wanted to feed tarpon, and if you’re like us, you are thinking maybe throwing the fish in the water and watching them eat.

WRONG!

tarpon-belize

In Belize, you feed tarpon by dangling a sardine about a foot from the water and wait for them to jump out and take it.

But don’t worry, if you keep your hand flat, they won’t bite you… needless to say, this is a fun activity for those looking to lose a finger. Well, not literally, but this is only for the bold.

Barrier Reef 

With 10 fingers intact, Cave Daddy left Caye Caulker waters to head towards the Barrier Reef and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. We swam with turtles, massive stingrays, and learned about the importance of the coral to the reef and how this helps the entire ecosystem.

coral-reef-belize
fish-belize

Without getting too technical, this area was heavily over-fished and since 1999, the fishing has stopped and the seagrass beds, mangroves and coral have been regenerated and you can now come here to view the sea turtles and other marine wildlife on snorkeling trips.

While on the reef, they take you for a 30 minute swim to learn about the reef, coral, and fish species in the water.

At this point, we regretted the large amounts of Panty Rippers (the drink variety…) from the prior day, but nevertheless enjoyed every minute of it.

Back on board the boat, we were served lunch, fresh fruits and drinks before heading to swim with sharks. I guess they were trying to fatten us up so the sharks had a good meal??

Caveman-Snorkeling-Belize sharks

As mentioned earlier, the sharks were lured to our boat with sardines – a healthy and delicious snack for sharks – who knew?

As we sat on the boat, Captain Ronny explained to us these sharks were not territorial so they weren’t going to be aggressive.

As a friendly reminder, these creatures like their space, so don’t crowd them. And with that advice, we were allowed to get in the water.

The sharks were on the right side of the boat, so we jumped off the left and swam around the front of the boat to see them.

They are seriously beautiful, yet terrifying creatures and do deserve ample amounts of respect. The sharks hung around for their sardine snack and once they were out of fish, swam away and didn’t bother us.

underwater-sharks-belize

The last stop was the sunken barge or shipwreck. The shipwreck was a large cargo ship that sunk off the coast of Caye Caulker and was overtaken by the ocean, growing coral and becoming an integral part of the underwater ecosystem.  

shipwreck-sam-belize

Manatee mating season takes place in the warmer months so we were out of luck on any sightings, but the day was still incredible even without it.

We were told up front that manatees aren’t guaranteed and with everything else we did get to see, we had a pretty remarkable day with the turtles, rays, sharks, seahorse, tarpon and literally hundreds of other fish!

    Things to bring

    • A towel – I feel like this is a no brainer for a snorkel trip.
    • Dry bag – while there was dry storage space on the boat, dry bags always come in handy. I suggest at least a 5L one for your phone, wallet, etc. We had a 10L and we were thankful to have it.
    • Underwater camera/GoPro – We have the GoPro Hero 6 and absolutely love this camera. Most people know about GoPro so we won’t ramble on about the benefits, but we had this camera glued to us our entire trip in Belize and have gotten significant use out of it in the past.
      • If you do have a GoPro, make sure you get the underwater filter for it. It helps with underwater shots. I’m no professional, but this is the one we purchased and it made a significant difference in the coloring of the pictures and videos. And don’t forget the floating hand grip with wrist strap!
    • Sunblock – You’re in Central America on a boat for 6 hours, you’ll need to reapply.

    Overall – Caye Caulker Snorkeling

    Caveman Snorkeling exceeded our Caye Caulker snorkeling expectations for the day.

    From the time they took for safety information to the knowledge of the crew, they provided a top-notch education on the reef and we now have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the importance of underwater reefs.

    Even without manatees, we would recommend this fun activity to anyone looking to snorkel. Cheers to Captain Ronny and First Mate Andrew for a solid (non-alcoholic) day of adventure and lots of fun!

    For more information on Belize, check out:

    Things to do in Caye Caulker by Boozing Abroad
    Pin-ATM Cave Belize
    sleeping giant 3 belize

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    We are Samantha & Chris and we are Boozing Abroad (literally). Both stateside and overseas, we are connecting people with local cultures through local booze!

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