Snorkeling in San Pedro Belize
Belize snorkeling is really pretty fantastic. We have taken numerous snorkel boat trips out to the barrier reef, all around Ambergris Caye, and out past the reef to the outer atolls of Lighthouse Reef & Glover's Reef, including a terrifying open ocean trip to the famous Blue Hole.
We have also sailed a catamaran the entire length of the country hitting every snorkel spot that we could down the barrier reef.
Below we share all of our experiences with you, and tell what snorkel spots we think are the best, and which to avoid. You will also find tons of pictures and many videos so you can tell what it is like.
Where Are The Best Belize Snorkeling Spots?
Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world, nearly the entire length of the country (about 192 miles). All of the snorkeling is located on this barrier reef (or the offshore atolls), and much of it is quickly accessible for snorkeling by boat.
In fact, that may be one of the only downsides to Belize snorkeling, you have to use a boat for nearly everything.
Check out the map. The light blue areas inside the reef are very shallow, averaging 20 feet. The atolls are thirty to sixty miles offshore across deep waters. And you can also see that the barrier reef is dotted with cayes (low, mangrove covered islands).
Ambergris Caye - San Pedro Area
The most popular Belize snorkeling starts from the little town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Notice that the reef is very close to Ambergris, which is one reason this is the most popular spot. The underwater clarity is also better up north, because there are more rain forest rivers down south.
-This is the most popular caye to snorkel from, and provides the easiest reef access and best accommodations in Belize. Some of the Ambergris spots are below, and there are more described on the Ambergris page at the link above.
- - This exciting snorkel is in shallow water in a feeding area which attracts harmless nurse sharks and lots of rays and fish and has some nice corals close.
- - This cut in the barrier reef offers shallow and deeper waters with bigger fish species, and currents.
- - This shallow area is right on the barrier reef edge, and has a lot of fish a good bit of current.
- -This is actually a patch reef area that is great for beginners and experienced alike.
There are three offshore atolls that have some great Belize snorkeling. Needless to say, these all take fairly long boat rides to get to, across open ocean.
- This is the furthest out atoll and it is surrounded by reef and is shallow in the center, only about 10 feet on average, with literally hundreds of coral heads dotting the interior. This is the home of the famous Blue Hole that you can see at right.
- -This iconic spot is one of the more famous dive spots in the world. We snorkeled it and suggest you skip it. Read why.
- -This is a great snorkel spot, with a shallow area that is perfect depths for a snorkeler.
- - Generally this spot is for divers, and really it is too deep for snorkelers, but we still enjoyed it.
Turneffe Islands Atoll is the closest of the three atolls. It is different from the other two because it is actually a collection of several hundred mangrove covered cayes within a reef. The snorkeling is supposed to be good but we have not been able to snorkel it much.
-This is the most southern atoll, and in our minds this is the best for Belize snorkeling of the three outer atolls. Surrounded by a reef, the interior is once again shallow, and there are nearly a thousand coral heads dotting the interior. You could spend weeks on weeks snorkeling here, and there are a few rustic resorts on Glovers.
Belize Snorkeling Cayes South Of Ambergris
Finally, south of Ambergris, there are innumerable Belize snorkeling places inside of the barrier reef, and around the hundreds of cayes all the way down to Placencia. Although as mentioned above, the water clarity is lower the farther south you get. Also there are fewer cayes, providing less weather protection in these southern areas. Here are few we have explored.
- This picturesque little island looks like it comes straight out of a movie, and is one of the better snorkel spots around Belize.
- Another excellent little snorkel spot at a patch reef just south of Rendezvous.
- The snorkeling here, next to the cut in the barrier reef is worth checking out.
- Located close to Gladden Spit which is another break in the barrier reef, these patch reefs are in perfect depths and have lots of life.
- This caye is nearly due east from Placencia, on the barrier reef edge, and is worth exploring, although the reef health and visibility is not as good as further north.
- This spot is closer to Placencia, and while decent suffers from cloudier water.
Suggestions & Questions From Other Snorkelers
See Every Belize Post
General Belize Snorkeling Travel Tips
Best Time Of Day For Belize Snorkeling
As with other spots in the world, try to snorkel in the mornings. The winds tend to pick up in the afternoons, and the best sea life and calmest waters are almost always had on morning trips. So avoid afternoon snorkel boat trips. And we recommend you avoid boat trips out to the atolls if the winds have been up.