Belize’s emphasis on conserving national lands
Belize is unique in that 26% of our territories are under some type of protected status with up to 60% of our forest cover intact. Protection of our land in Belize began in the early 1920’s when Forest Reserves were established under the Forest Act. When independence from the United Kingdom was achieved in 1981, the more defined practice of Protected Areas Management was implemented via the Wildlife Protection Act and the National Parks System Act. There are seven types of protected areas in Belize, each with their own guidelines for how they may be used. These are Nature Reserve, National Park, Natural Monument, Wildlife Sanctuary, Marine Reserve, Forest Reserve and Archaeological Reserves. Managed by the Fisheries Department, a Marine Reserve, such as Hol Chan, is defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as an area reserved as a nature conservation reserve for the protection, research, recreation, education and controlled extraction in relation to marine and freshwater species and their habitats. The stipulations of the marine reserve for snorkeling tours require a licensed tour guide, a park entrance fee paid to the Fisheries Department (this is included in the snorkel tour) and Leave No Trace ethics.
Hol Chan’s Marine Reserve status
Hol Chan, originally established as a Marine Reserve in 1987, covers roughly 21 square miles, providing protection over several distinct zones. The original protected area designation has gradually been expanded to provide a more inclusive practical protection to the marine species that call Hol Chan home. Zone A includes the reef and is covered with almost every type of coral found in the Caribbean. Zone B is an area of seagrass where turtles, conch and even the remarkable little seahorses are found. Zone C comprises the mangroves on the southern tip of the island. Zone D was added in 1999 as Shark & Ray Alley. In combination, these and other zones of the marine reserve effectively protect the various habitats that many marine creatures depend on throughout their life cycles. This, in turn, allows an overwhelming variety of marine life to thrive at Hol Chan.
Aquatic Eye Candy
If you’ve never been face-to-face with a wild sea turtle, you’re in for a treat. And if you have, you know that it’s something special. Due to its long-standing protected status, the marine environments encompassed at Hol Chan are home to many resident creatures. The Belize Fisheries Department lists over 250 species of fish, hard corals, sponges, mammals, invertebrates and seagrasses recorded in the marine reserve. The vibrant colors of the coral reef and dancing schools of fish will captivate you from the moment your masked and snorkeled face enters the water.
No previous experience needed.
Hol Chan is the perfect site to make your first forays into the underwater world. You have the choice to schedule your half-day snorkel trip to Hol Chan for the morning or the afternoon. The tour begins in a shallow, sandy area, allowing for any last-minute gear adjustments. An orientation is conducted with the experienced guides and once everyone is feeling nice and comfortable, off you go on your guided tour! Floatation aids are available, and safety is always the foremost concern. The only negative about trying snorkeling for the first time in Belize? You might just fall in love with the reef and spend every vacation henceforth chasing the waves. Wait, did we say that was a negative?
Our award-winning tour provider, Tuff E Nuff Tours.
Winner of Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award and a top-rated tour operator on Ambergris Caye, Tuff E Nuff is the best tour operator on the island! We are committed to booking our guests with the best qualified and licensed guides in the country for the various excursions that Belize has to offer. Tuff E Nuff Tours does it all and is a proud partner of Sandy Point Resorts, offering a full range of land and sea adventures at all Sandy Point Resorts. Their staff stand out in a literal sea of tour guides with their friendly, knowledgeable, highly trained and experienced team.
Bucket list- swim with sharks!
After snorkeling at Hol Chan, the half-day tour makes a bonus stop at Shark & Ray Alley (Zone D of the reserve). Traditionally, this is a site that fishermen would come to clean their catch, and so, over time, nurse sharks and sting rays grew to associate the sound of boat engines with the scraps of fish cleaning. Still today, these gentle giants of the sea flock to the boats and put on quite the natural show. Done your mask and fins, hop on in and make memories in Belize you’re not soon to forget!
It’s easier than ever to book now!
You can now click your way through to a snorkeling tour reservation instantly! Click here to get started!