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Please compare the snorkeling experience in Ambergris Caye to Cozumel

Please compare the snorkeling experience in Ambergris Caye to Cozumel

Old Jan 19th, 2008, 04:17 PM
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Please compare the snorkeling experience in Ambergris Caye to Cozumel

We spent a week at the Presidente in Cozumel and enjoyed the snorkeling from the beach and on day trips to the reef. We snorkeled Palancar Reef and Columbia Shallows.

The same reef system lies off shore from both Cozumel and Belize. We are wondering if Ambergris Caye will provide a more dramatic snorkeling experience than Cozumel. Are there more fish off Ambergris Caye? Is the coral more varied and colorful in Belize?

If the snorkeling is not much better in Ambergris Caye, we will return to Cozumel a second time. I would appreciate any comparisons you can give me, to help us make the decision on next winter's vacation.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 05:37 PM
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When were you in Cozumel last? I have not been to Ambergis Caye to snorkel. But I can say that the snorkeling in Cozumel has really not been the same since Hurricaine Wilma in 2005. We went to Coz in 6/07 and were pretty shocked at how sparse the fish and coral were. It was nothing at all like it was before Wilma. It was a sad discovery for us.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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The last time I was in Cozumel was about 12 years ago. When I was there, the snorkeling was great and right off the beach. I went to Ambergris Caye about 3 years ago and thought it was good too, but you needed a boat .....short ride to the reef, to see anything. From what I remember, it was very grassy close to the shore. When we did get out to the reef, the coral was nice, not very bleached and we saw a wide variety of fish and more rays than I have seen anywhere. From what I have heard, the coral in Cozumel is not like it used to be. I was in Akumal last year and was not too impressed with the snorkeling. I did see a lot of fish and some turtles in the bay, but the coral seemed damaged and bleached. Don't know if that was from the hurricanes or the warm water.
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Old Jan 20th, 2008, 04:50 PM
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20 years since I've been to Cozumel, but like the poster above states you really need to go out on a boat from Ambergris Caye. However, the reef is less than a mile off shore so it is a very short ride and well worth the trip / expense.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Snorkeling from shore off the atolls is fabulous; I can't compare never having been to either Ambergris or Cozumel, but you might want to consider a Belize destination other than Ambergris. Also, there are wonderful inland adventures like caving and hiking and wonderful villages and Maya ruins to visit. My photos and travelogues are posted below if you're interested. Happy trails!

http://flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 08:35 AM
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I've been both places.

Access to snorkeling in Ambergris is not as easy as Cozumel. There is no snorkeling from the beaches. You will need to hire a boat to take you to any of the good reefs. This is usually in the form of a day trip to several spots. My husband is a diver, so I went along to The Blue Hole and snorkeled around the parameter while they did their dive. It is beautiful mainly because no one much snorkels there. We were also dropped at Half Moon Caye for some snorkeling that day while the divers went to another location. It was nice. You can also do one of the trips to "Shark & Ray" alley, where you feed and play with small reef sharks. Again, these are all quite a distance from Ambergris. Our trips were in very rough water. The trip to the Blue Hole is several hours as I recall.

We spend every February in Cozumel and have for about 15 years. We snorkel every day. I've watched the reefs through several hurricanes. Yes, this last one was very devastating on the shallow reefs and many are nearly gone. Having said that, we saw great recovery strides last February. A lot of the small coral is back already, creating wonderful color on the reefs. While the fish population is not as plentiful, it is still there and diverse. In fact, its interesting that the kinds of fish have changed dramatically. With coral formation change, has come fish habitat change - so we saw many things close in to shore that had previously been reserved only for divers in deep water. We have a condo at the Coral Princess and on the house reef I saw huge eagle rays, Southern sting rays as big as a table, octopus, and a moray eel over 6 feet long living on our reef. We had never in all our years seen anything so spectacular so close to shore.

If you want to see amazing snorkeling right from shore, my suggestions is Roatan, Honduras. The reefs are vast and beautiful and completely accessable from West End beach. Much better than Belize although the island infrastructure is considerably less diverse.

Hope this helps with your planning.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:39 AM
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We've been to Cozumel and enjoyed the snorkeling there, but it seemed to be not very accessible except at the Nat'l Park. If you like shore snorkeling, you might consider Grand Cayman. We snorkeled our brains out there, twice a day, and had a great time even though it was mere months after Hurricane hmmm I forget now, but it was right before Katrina and it sat off GC for 36 hours and devastated the island but the coral, fish, and sting rays were fine. You can go to places along the northern shore where you are the only people in the water and the snorkeling is amazing. We had the best time taking pictures and then looking at them at night on the TV in the condo and using a fish id book to identify what we saw. We went to "Sting Ray City" twice, once when we were scared of the rays and then again to really enjoy it. They also stop at a great snorkel place (we took the one from the north side of the island, not from the side where all the cruise ships come in--but they go to approximately the same place).
When we did research on Belize, we found that the only shore snorkeling was off the cays in the middle of the bay (we were looking at Blackbird Cay Resort). If you go to the Caribbean section of Fodor's, there is a travel agent there who can help you a lot regarding transportation there from Ambergis or to Ambergis from there. Her name is Katy. Happy planning!
Sally in Seattle
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 10:15 AM
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I have been to both, Cozumel in 2004 and Belize in 2005 and our primary interest is snorkeling. As other posters have said, in Ambergris Caye, you need to go out on a boat tour to really see anything. It was great, but I really prefer snorkeling from shore where I can snorkel,relax on the beach,snorkel some more,etc. etc.
We did a day trip in Coz, but most of the time we snorkeled right in front of the hotel Coral Princess which was mentioned above.
Also have been to Grand Cayman and the snorkeling was wonderful, as well as Sting Ray city.Otherwise did not care for the island as much as other places. St. John is also good for snorkeling, but probably more expensive than Coz or Belize.
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