Located on the east coast of Central America, you can find the world’s second-largest barrier reef with a length of 185 miles in Belize. Although the Belize Barrier Reef is so large, the country itself is the second smallest country of Central America. In contrast to all other Central American countries, the official language is English.

When snorkeling in Belize Barrier Reef, you will find yourself in one of the World’s best marine ecosystems, with high diversities of tropical fish and larger marine life. Belize snorkeling spots are typical for the Caribbean, with beautiful white sandy beaches and the water covered by mangrove swamps and coral reef. Snorkeling in Belize city is great and from there, tours offer incredible adventures to snorkel the Belize barrier reef and its surrounding ecosystems.

The water is warm and clear, which makes for a turquoise blue color. If you want to spend most of your time in the water enjoying the best snorkeling spots in Belize, bring your snorkeling equipment. If you wonder where to snorkel in Belize, keep on reading.

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate

DEPTH

5ft to 30ft (1.5m to 10m)

VISIBILITY

50ft to 60ft (15m to 18m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Eagle Rays, Sharks, Mangroves

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Four different habitats

snorkeling belize

The best place to snorkel in Belize is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the oldest marine reserve of Belize, located about 3.7 miles off Ambergris Caye. The area of Hol Chan is the best snorkeling spot in Belize and can be divided into four different habitat zones, including coral reef, mangroves, a shark-ray alley, and grass beds. Through its long protection, the marine reserve is subject to an incredible diversity of marine life. Spanning over all four habitat zones, the marine reserve is home to over 160 fish species, three species of turtles, about 40 species of coral, five species of sponges, eight species of algae as well as two seagrass species. Hol Chan is a small channel that is connected to the rest of the Belize Barrier Reef and offers excellent snorkel adventures. It is a good location for a day trip.

snorkel belize city

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate

DEPTH

5ft to 30ft (1.5m to 10m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Blacktip reef shark, southern stingray

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Abundance of sharks and rays

belize snorkeling from beach

Shark Ray alley is one habitat zone of the Hol Chan marine reserve, and as the name suggests, you are guaranteed to see sharks and rays. This beautiful habitat is serving as a feeding ground for larger fish, amongst which the Blacktip Reef shark is the most common. This curious shark is small in size, a fast swimmer and swims mostly close to the surface. Another common shark is the Lemon Shark, which you will see close by the reef. Other larger marine life includes Southern Stingrays and Nurse Sharks, and sometimes a Tiger – or Bull Shark will come into the alley. Apart from larger marine life, there are lots of smaller fish such as Jacks, Groupers, Angelfish, Barracuda, and Snappers. The combination of larger marine species with the areas’ relatively shallow waters and clear visibility makes it one of the best snorkeling spots in Belize.

belize barrier reef snorkeling

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced

DEPTH

Beach to 100ft (to 30m)

VISIBILITY

30ft to 130ft (10m to 40m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Hawksbill turtle, manatee

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Access to the Belize Barrier Reef, hawksbill turtle nesting site

A great place to start your Belize snorkeling vacation is on the island of Ambergris Caye, which is the biggest offshore island of Belize. Snorkeling San Pedro, Belize, is possible, and the cozy town also offers incredible snorkeling adventures. The island has the best beaches in Belize for snorkeling. With a wide variety of marine life, snorkeling Ambergris Caye counts to one of the best snorkeling Belize has to offer. Most locals on the island are water enthusiasts and are happy to help you to find the best snorkeling spots in Belize. Due to its great visibility, the best snorkeling in Ambergris Caye can be found in the north of the island.

snorkeling in ambergris caye

DIFFICULTY

Advanced

DEPTH

3ft to 30ft (1m to 10m), wall 120ft (37m)

VISIBILITY

80ft (24m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Brain and elkhorn corals

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Wall drop-off

Tres Cocos is located between the Belize Barrier Reef and Ambergris Caye right on the edge of the reef. Here, a wall is dropping about 120 feet down. Through its geographical location, the current can get relatively strong, but it also attracts a lot of marine life. Thus, if you are an advanced snorkeler, you can enjoy a high diversity of marine life and many beautiful corrals. The area is known for some of the largest Brain and Elkhorn Corals along the reef, making it one of the best places to snorkel in Belize. Amongst others, you can enjoy watching Moray Eels, Stingrays as well as an occasional Hawksbill Turtle. The reef is shallow and accessible through a short boat trip from San Pedro.

san pedro snorkeling

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate

DEPTH

3ft to 30 ft (1m to 10m), drop of 100ft (30m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Surgeonfish, dolphin, manatee

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Mangrove ecosystem

Turneffe Reef Atoll is a marine reserve since 2012 and consists of many small mangrove islands. It is the largest of the three main atolls in Belize with a 30-mile length and a 10-mile width. The mangrove islands are habitat to many different tropical fish species. When snorkeling at Turneffe Reef Atoll, one can enjoy watching many corals and tropical fish, such as the Surgeonfish or Parrotfish, and if you are lucky Manatees or Dolphins. However, most of the fish are Lionfish, whose population dominates the area. When one visits the Turneffe Reef Atoll, a great place to explore are the inner stretches of “the Elbow”. When snorkeling here, you can see the vertical wall that drops around 100 feet.

ambergris caye snorkeling from shore

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

6ft to 10ft (2m to 3m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Hard and soft corals

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Colorful coral beds

The Coral Gardens are located between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. As the name indicates, this snorkeling site has a high diversity of beautifully colored corals. The coral beds are separated by narrow sand paths, which makes this landscape so unique. Apart from hard corals, there are lots of soft corals as well as sea fans, and you will likely see large schools of Bermuda Chub swimming between the coral beds. Furthermore, the area offers a home to many Grunts, that typically rest on the bottom of corals. Snorkeling at Coral Gardens offers you the chance to dive into the world of a beautiful, colorful underwater garden and is certainly one of the best snorkeling spots in Belize. The snorkeling site is relatively shallow, with calm and clear water.

snorkel in belize

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

5ft to 15ft (1.5m to 15m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Flamingo tongues, turtles

RENOWNED FOR

Refugee for marine life

belize snorkeling ambergris caye

Being a part of the Belize Barrier Reef, Glover’s Reef Atoll is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. What makes this one of the best snorkeling in Belize is that, at a distance of less than 1-mile east of the atolls, the reef drops about 2600 feet. This is the beginning of the open waters of the Caribbean. Glover’s Reef Atoll is an excellent place for Belize Barrier Reef, snorkeling a shallow and sheltered lagoon with more than 700 patch reefs. This lagoon offers a refuge for many open water marine species, making it a site of high marine diversity. The snorkeling site is very remote, but it’s worth it since it has crystal clear waters.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

30ft to 50ft (10m to 16m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Trumpetfish, Blackball sponge

RENOWNED FOR

Coral and mangrove ecosystem

best snorkeling belize has to offer

At Carrie Bow Caye, one can enjoy great snorkeling off the Caye. The snorkeling site is located on the Belize Barrier Reef, and the best location to snorkel is at the south end of the Caye. The Smithsonian Carrie Bow Caye field station is close by. Their research focusses on the biology, geology, and ecology of coral reef ecosystems. When snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef here, one can enjoy a wide variety of healthy corals, sponges as well as tropical fish species.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced

DEPTH

15ft to 50ft (5m to 15m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Staghorn coral, large Grouper, Manta Ray

RENOWNED FOR

Protected breeding ground for many marine species

snorkeling in belize prices

Amongst the three atoll reefs in Belize, the Lighthouse Reef Atoll is the furthest offshore. Although relatively far away from the mainland, this atoll is a famous dive and snorkel destination. Half Moon Caye functions as a breeding ground for many fish species but also harbors beautiful corals and its habitants. It is home to over 200 tropical fish species and has an incredible underwater marine trail. Since Half Moon Caye is relatively shallow, the snorkeling site is an optimal location for beginners as well as advanced snorkelers, making it one of the best snorkeling spots in Belize.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

15ft to 400ft (5m to 120m)

VISIBILITY

100ft (30m)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Triggerfish, Angelfish

RENOWNED FOR

Blue hole

snorkling in belize

Located in the middle of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, with a diameter of 1000 feet and a depth of 400 feet, is the Blue Hole. The top of the rim is lined with corals that can be explored. Apart from the coral reef and some tropical fish, you may be able to see reef sharks peaking up from the depth. The Blue Hole is a very famous diving spot, so it is easily accessible by boat.

best place to stay in belize for snorkeling

Rainfall

Rainy season in Belize is between June and November, with September and October being the months with the most torrential rainfall. The average rainfall in September is about 9.24 inches (234.6mm), and in October, about 8.9 inches (226.1mm). You can expect the least precipitation in March with 1.89 inches (47.9mm) and 1.8 inches (45.6mm) in April. 

Temperature

The warmest months in Belize are May, with an average of 80.96°F (27.2°C), and June, with an average of 80.78°F (27.1°C). The coldest months are December and January with an average of 73.58°F (23.1°C) and 72.86°F (22.7°C), respectively.

Best Snorkeling Months

The best time to go on a snorkeling trip to Belize will be between December and July. The rainfall during the rainy season may make the water in the ocean murky, and the visibility won’t be that good. The weather is generally relatively warm, although it is recommended to go in April or May. This because the water- and outside temperatures will be very comfortable, and you will not experience heavy rainfalls, plus this is your ideal chance to spot a whale shark foraging. However, please make sure to bring protection against the sun and a reef-safe sunscreen. 

TIME ZONE: Central Standard Time (UTC-8)

CURRENCY: Belize dollar $1 = BZD2.01

CALLING CODE: +501

ELECTRIC VOLT: 110 V

PLUG TYPE: A, B, and G

MAIN AIRPORT: Philip SW Goldson International Airport (BZE)

1. Where are the best places to stay in Belize for snorkeling tours?

A good place to start your snorkeling adventure is on Ambergris Caye. The island offers several Belize snorkeling resorts, and one can enjoy the best snorkeling in Belize from the beach. Apart from Ambergris Caye resorts, amongst the best offshore snorkeling resorts in Belize are Ray Cay Island Resort on the island Placencia and Coco Plum Island Resort on Coco Plum Cay. However, if you are not feeling like staying on a lonely island throughout your vacations, the best Belize snorkeling resort on the mainland can be found in Hopkins, and it is called Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort. 

2. What are the best beaches in Belize for snorkeling from the shore?

The best beaches for the best snorkeling in Belize from the shore can be found on the island of Ambergris Caye. The island offers a wide variety of different ecosystems that can either be explored on your own or with a local guide. Since the entire island is enthusiastic about the ocean, the locals are very open to helping you find the best snorkeling spots on Ambergris Caye. The north of the island has the best visibility, but it is a great adventure to explore the difference between the south, east, and west of the island.

3. How much does it cost to snorkel in Belize?

The price of your snorkeling adventure in Belize depends on factors, such as if you have your equipment or have to rent it, in what sort of accommodation you want to stay, and how many different snorkeling spots you want to explore. The transportation over land takes about 30min from the international airport to Belize City harbor. Boats go to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and take about 1.5h. Transport over land and water combined will cost a total of about $170 return. Another option is a flight from the Belize airport to San Pedro, which may be cheaper, especially when booked in advance, starting at around $120 for a return trip. The island offers accommodations of different price ranges. Depending on your accommodation, one night can cost as much as $370, or as little as $20. The island itself offers good snorkeling that can be accessed on your own or with a guide, and tour companies offer snorkeling adventures with boats, at a cost around $200, depending on the snorkeling location.

4. When snorkeling in Belize, what species of coral will I see?

In the waters of Belize, you can find over 70 different species of hard coral and over 35 species of soft coral. When snorkeling in Belize, you will encounter hard corals such as the Elkhorn coral, Brain coral, or Staghorn coral. Apart from hard corals, you will be able to see soft corals and colonies of leaf coral on your snorkeling adventures. When snorkeling, watch out for fire corals, they may cut you. On the coral reef, you can also see several beautifully colored sea fans as well as anemones.

snorkeling in san pedro

As always, we create our content with you, fellow divers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next dive is a great one!

Sophie Bader

Sophie is a product expert, degreed wildlife manager, and biologist, with a specialization in Marine Biology as well as Ecology and Evolution. Sophie has a huge passion for traveling and is originally from southern Germany. She has obtained her PADI - Open Water diving license at the age of 13. Throughout her studies, Sophie has been conducting marine conservation research on four different continents and whilst traveling, has been diving in over 10 different countries worldwide. Her key interests include marine life and its conservation, local culture, diving, writing, and teaching English to local communities.

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