We spent a week snorkeling from Ambergris Caye, Belize in August 2016 and here is my trip report. On the first night, we did a night snorkel around the dock at Ramon’s Village Resort which was good; saw from huge Tarpon to fingernail size Sharpnose Puffer.
After that we did private snorkeling tours with Lil Alphonse. The first trip was with his associate Adolfo to Mexico Rocks and Tres Cocos. They were very pristine reefs with excellent quality of hard and soft corals and huge variety and quantity of fish and critters; best in the Caribbean. This is my new number one over Bonaire which is very close (see disclaimer below).
All snorkeling from this island is by boat. So private tours are somewhat expensive. But if you can afford it, it’s the only way to go.
About 10 minutes into the first excursion we told Adolfo that I had never seen a Spotted Eagle Ray in all my years of snorkeling the Caribbean. Within five minutes he spotted a school of five and let us snorkel with them. My life was complete.
The next day we went with Alphonse to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. We snorkeled with about 35 nurse sharks that were in a cyclone feeding from the side of the boat along with huge schools of Horse-eye Jacks. We got right up into them so at times we were totally surrounded, even got some rides from the Nurse Sharks. We went back for a night snorkel that was equally as breathtaking.
Alphonse is very passionate about snorkeling, it is his life. He is extremely knowledgeable about fish species, variations in species, behavior, types of coral, etc. He is similar to Rene in Bonaire but 10 times more animated.
Now for the disclaimer. Halfway through our week, Hurricane Earl hit almost directly. We were not able to do two more days of excursions with Alphonse. I believe the hurricane must have done major damage to the reef even though it was a category one. I’m sure it trashed at least the soft corals which were amazing. So my new number one, might not be number one anymore, but I was glad to see it while it was still pristine. The trips we missed out on were snorkeling with manatees in Caye Caulker and another night with Alphonse.
We would go back here in a heartbeat but would have to really get the lowdown from Alphonse on possible reef damage before I committed to another trip here.
We also did an awesome day of reef fishing with Eric and Giggy of Uprising Tours. We caught Queen Triggerfish, several Ocean Triggerfish and Red Snappers. We got that in the day before the hurricane.
We stayed at Ramon’s Village Resort. It is hands down, the best place to stay, check TripAdvisor reviews. Good deal for off season with breakfast and golf cart included (you need golf cart to get around island). Very expensive but everything on this caye is expensive.
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Nicole & Galen – Aug 23, 2016 – Thank You!
Hi Gerry, thank you for trip report about snorkeling from Ambergris Caye. Too bad about the hurricane! Here is our information about snorkeling from Ambergris Caye.
Lyn – UK – Sep 3, 2016 – Great Feedback From Your Trip Gerry
Thanks for such an interesting and detailed trip report. Please post further info about the snorkeling conditions, when you hear what damage was sustained. My husband and I are thinking of Ambergris Caye for a future trip, an update on conditions would be very much appreciated.
Robin – Sep 4, 2016 – Ambergris Caye
I wanted to add information on our trip this past May. Perfect weather and timing before hurricane season.
You have to take a boat tour to the reefs which costs $50 p.p. We snorkeled two times and my husband went diving twice too. I was not that impressed with Hol Chan as it was very crowded with other tours. You couldn’t swim far from your group so I felt I didn’t get to see much.
Mexico Rocks was good. There were not many people and it was beautiful.
I was disappointed with not being able to just swim from shore, sea grass and mucky sand prevents it. Snorkeling costs money and there is not much else to do, so I hung out at the pool when my husband went diving.
We stayed at the Belizean Shores. They had kitchens and their own surf shop.