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Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Hol Chan Marine Reserve at the southern tip of Ambergris Caye is a popular destination for snorkel and dive trips from Caye Caulker. At Hol Chan, you can swim with nurse sharks and stingrays and see hundreds of tropical fish, some quite large due to the no-fishing restrictions in the reserve. On the way, your boat may be followed by a pod of frolicking dolphins, and you may spot sea turtles or even a manatee. Boats from Caulker also go to Lighthouse and Turneffe atolls.
The Caye Caulker Marine Reserve north and east of Caye Caulker, with its coral canyons, is a favorite of divers, especially for night dives. Caulker has its own mini version of San Pedro's Shark-Ray Alley, called Shark-Ray Village.
Charters and Equipment
A plethora of dive and snorkel operators offer reef tours (some of them are "cowboys"—unaffiliated and unreliable—so make sure you use a reputable company). Plan on spending about BZ$40-BZ$60 for a snorkel trip around the island or BZ$70-BZ$100 for a six-hour snorkel trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Local two-tank reef dives typically run about BZ$150, and those to Hol Chan or other nearby areas cost about BZ$160-BZ$180. Day trips to Lighthouse or Turneffe atoll, with three dives, cost around BZ$250-BZ$300. If you stop at Half Moon Caye, there's an additional BZ$80 park fee. At Hol Chan, the park fee is BZ$20, and at Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, BZ$10. These park fees, which apply for divers and snorkelers, are sometimes not included in the quoted prices for dive and snorkel trips. The 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) also may—or may not—be included in the price you're quoted. Ask, to be sure.
Raggamuffin Tours. Go out for a snorkel on a sailboat with Raggamuffin Tours, which goes to Hol Chan for BZ$100, including the park entrance fee, lunch, and cocktails. Front St., Caye Caulker. 226/0348. www.raggamuffintours.com.
Tsunami Adventures. Tsunami Adventures runs full-day snorkeling trips to Hol Chan for BZ$90 including the park entrance fee and lunch. A three-hour local reef snorkel trip is BZ$50. This company also offers a number of other snorkel trips, including a trip to Turneffe Atoll (BZ$150) and another to the Blue Hole (BZ$280 including breakfast and lunch and BZ$80 park fees). Front St., Caye Caulker. 226/0462. www.tsunamiadventures.com.
Carlos Tours. Carlos Tours runs snorkel trips to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and elsewhere, manatee-spotting trips to Swallow Caye, and full-day snorkel and sightseeing trips with several stops on the Barrier Reef, at San Pedro, and at small cayes. Prices vary according to the destination but range from around BZ$70 to BZ$160 per person. Front St., Caye Caulker. 226/0058.
Red Mangrove Eco Adventures. Red Mangrove Eco Adventures offers "ecologically sensitive" snorkel and mainland trips—no touching or hugging the sharks on their tours. Front St., Caye Caulker. 607/1440. www.mangrovebelize.com.
Anwar Tours. Anwar Tours runs snorkel trips to see manatees at Swallow Caye, with a visit at St. Georges Caye, and stops at three other good snorkel sites. Rate for this full-day trip is BZ$130. A night snorkel trip is BZ$90. Anwar, like other tour operators, provides various snorkel and other tour options, depending on demand. Stops and length of trips vary depending on weather and sea conditions. Front St., Caye Caulker. 226/0327.
Belize Diving Services. Established in 1978, Belize Diving Services has been around long enough to know all the best spots. They train around 500 divers every year, with a full open water course running around BZ$700. A two-tank local reef dive is BZ$130, not including gear rental, 12.5% tax and BZ$10 reserve admission fee. A two-tank Turneffe trip is BZ$180 plus tax and gear rental. Chapoose St., near soccer field and Iguana Reef Inn, Caye Caulker. 226/0143. www.belizedivingservices.net.
Frenchie's Diving Services. If you're looking for someone to take you out to the reef for diving, or to the Blue Hole, Frenchie's Diving Services is a respected local operator. Frenchie's leaves early for the Blue Hole, to try to be the first boat there. The three-dive, full-day trip, including gear, breakfast, lunch, BZ$80 park fee, and tax is BZ$393 per person. Front St., on dock north of main pier, Caye Caulker. 226/0234. www.frenchiesdivingbelize.com.
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