Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Translated in Maya as “”Little Channel,”” the Hol Chan Marine Reserve refers to the deep cut or “quebrada” in the barrier reef off Ambergris Caye. This protected zone encompasses a total of 13,632 acres of marine waters, which includes four zones:

Zone A: Coral Reef (640 acres) Zone B: Sea Grass Beds (5,376) Zone C: Mangroves (6,336) Zone D: Shark Ray Alley (1,280)

Located approximately four miles south of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, this top snorkeling zone is Belize’s first marine reserve legislated in July 1987.

Hol Chan Cut is open to the sea beyond the reef, so it allows marine creatures to travel from the outside of the reef to the inside and vice versa. Over 160 species of fish have been recorded in the reserve, along with forty types of coral, five species of sponge, two sea grasses, three species of sea turtle and three marine mammals: the short-beaked common dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin and West Indian manatee. Spotted eagle rays and southern stingrays are common at the bottom of the channel. Lobsters, moray eels and sea anemones live among the rocky outcrops, and some of the many corals include brain coral, elkhorn coral, and finger coral. Jacks, groupers, snappers and barracuda are all common.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve is located only four miles from the town of San Pedro and some 36 miles from Belize City, making it easily accessible as a popular snorkeling and diving site. The shallow waters offer even the novice swimmer a chance to encounter docile nurse sharks and rays.



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