Belize vs. Bonaire Snorkeling?

by Erik

Which do you think has better snorkeling, Bonaire or Belize?

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May 10, 2010
Which is better - Belize or Bonaire Snorkeling?
by: Galen & Nicole

Hi Erik. For us Bonaire wins as a better snorkeling experience than Belize. For a number of reasons that don't necessarily have to do with the sights underwater.

First, let's talk about Belize. The quality of the snorkeling in Belize is excellent, if not a bit better than in Bonaire. The reefs you snorkel in Belize are more exposed to the open ocean and winds, which gives them more water flow. So you end up with healthier reefs and you will see bigger species than you will in Bonaire.

But the access to the snorkeling in Belize is a problem. Every snorkeling spot in Belize must be reached by boat. So you have to pay for these and go on their schedule. And if they don't get enough people, they will cancel the trip. Some of the best snorkeling in Belize takes a long time to get to by boat, sometimes through dangerous open ocean crossings. Many of the spots can only be reached if you charter your own catamaran live-aboard and stay out for days. We were fortunate enough to do this, but it is beyond most people's ability.

In contrast in Bonaire there are tons of spots to go from the beach. In fact it is almost all beach access, with the exception of snorkeling on Klein Bonaire, the little island close to Bonaire. But even this can be reached by an inexpensive water taxi many times a day. And the snorkeling is almost entirely on the leeward (protected side) of the island from the trade winds and waves. So the ease of getting in the water almost anywhere in Bonaire is a real plus.

We also prefer the culture of Bonaire better. It is not as poor a country as Belize. In Belize you are constantly harassed to buy things or to give money. This never happened in Bonaire. And overall it is a much safer place than Belize. We felt completely comfortable walking around Bonaire at night. The people are very friendly.

In Bonaire the drinking water from the tap is safe to drink and very tasty, and you don't have to get all the shots and pills for traveling that you do for Belize. And the food is better, if a bit more expensive.

The snorkeling in Bonaire is excellent. As mentioned above, you won't see as many big species, but the waters are amazingly clear and there is a great deal of life to see. One thing to note is that Bonaire has suffered some shallow reef damage from two storms in the past ten years. And most of the information currently available on the web and in books about the snorkeling in Bonaire is now very inaccurate.

But we are going to fix that. We have scoured that island to find the best snorkeling spots that are still healthy and beautiful. And we just finished our Bonaire Snorkeling Guide eBook.

Sep 06, 2013
End Run Around Belize Problems
by: Bill

I seemed to have circumvented the problems with snorkeling off Belize by going with Slickrock Adventures in December of 2012. They have their own island at Glover's Atoll and have organized the trip between there and the Belize airport so as to insulate customers from the problems described by Galen and Nicole.

My whole week there was excellent.

Jul 18, 2014
Snorkeled Belize
by: David in Toronto

We spent a week on Ambergris Caye, Belize in a villa adjacent to the Mexico Rocks. Five minutes in a kayak got us on the spot and it was quite terrific snorkeling. Saw a massive Eagle Ray, Nurse Sharks, and the regular suspects too.

We hired a private catamaran and did Shark Ray Alley and the Hol Chan Marine Park.

Neither blew us away at all - and although it is cool to swim with conditioned Nurse Sharks and rays - they were only interested in the chum and it all seemed very non-genuine...

We have also spent two weeks on Roatan. So far, it is still the best. Two fin flips off the beach and we were in the best snorkeling we have ever experienced.

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