Caye Caulker is a tiny, no-car, 5 mile island in Belize , known for it’s “go slow” motto, chill, beach bar vibes, and amazing marine life.
We spent a couple of glorious days on Caye Caulker, one full day devoted to the insanely cool snorkeling package we booked with Caveman Snorkeling Tours, an all day expedition that’s one of the most popular things you can do on the island. (And rightfully so – Belize has the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world!)
Our tour took us to popular spots such as Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. While there are multiple companies on the island that can take you to these sites, I did a lot of research and chose Caveman Snorkeling Tours based on their 5-star reviews, great reputation, and respect for the environment.
While they offer multiple tours, we chose the full experience and booked a full-day (5 hour) tour over email, and paid once arriving at their office the day of the tour. That morning we received our snorkels, masks, and fins, and after a brief introduction and breakdown from Caveman himself, we got into our groups and started the day. While the website advertised 5 different stops, we were getting 7! To say we were ready was an understatement.
Our first location was at an area where we got the opportunity to see tiny seahorses. We stepped out of the boat, still dry for the time being, and approached the man-made environment that protected the tiny horses from predators. Although hard to see, we spotted a few of the camouflauged creatures, floating in the net area where they are bred.
We then took a short ride over to an area known to have a ton of tarpon fish. In the boat with bait fish in hand, we actually got to hold our hand over the water and watch as tarpon jumped out and snatched it from our fingers! These fish are pretty huge – while shocking at first, it was very fun!
Finally we arrived at our first snorkeling spot – the sun was blazing and I couldn’t wait to get into the water. While we were heading to the typical manatee spot (would be spot #8), there unfortunately didn’t seem to be any around that day. (Such a bummer, but they weren’t guaranteed!) We did though arrive at Shark Ray Alley, where we got to swim with numerous, hungry nurse sharks.
It was such an amazing feeling to be swimming with such large creatures! (Thank God the sharks weren’t interested in us at all lol!) There were also many manta rays at this spot, the largest I’ve ever seen in my entire life! I’ve always been afraid of the ocean and the animals in it, but this experience was so calm and gentle, I couldn’t help but be filled with awe – it was nothing short of amazing.
After this we had a nice lunch on the boat, courtesy of the crew, with reggae music floating on the sound waves. Perfection!
Snorkel stop #2 took us to Chato’s area, a cemetery for thousands and thousands of conch shell homes. Chato is the only man in the area allowed to catch conch, and we luckily got to swim in his dumping area. We didn’t get a picture (only video, whoops!), but it was mind blowing to see how much conch was left over the past 40+ years. The entire seabed was covered as far as I could see – so, so, so, trippy!
We then jetted over to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, one of the main highlights of the day. Here we swam for 45 minutes, learning all about different types of fish, coral, and other marine life.
Fire coral like in that horrible Blake Lively shark movie? Check. The most gargantuan sea turtle ever? Check. Creepy green mega-long moray eel? Unfortunately, check. Hol Chan pulled out all the stops, and I can see why it’s such the tourist attraction – it’s a real life aquarium on steroids. Unforgettable!
We then headed to a old, sunken, cargo barge, and I truly felt like I was in an action movie. While I was creeped out a bit, hoping a giant shark wouldn’t surprise me and swim out of one of the holes, it was quite the experience!
Our last and final stop was at the coral gardens, a last minute attempt at catching some manatees. While the gentle giants were no where in sight, I was amazed at the underwater wonder of the largest coral structures I’ve ever seen.
We finally headed back to Caye Caulker, fresh fruit from our guides in hand, tired after a long day of snorkeling. I’ve never been in water so clear, and it was truly incredible to be able to see so much marine life, and thankfully for my nerves, in a very safe environment! Our 2 guides were so kind, always laughing and happy to answer all our questions. Thank you Caveman Snorkeling Tours for such a wonderful experience!
Caveman Snorkeling Tours
Caye Caulker, Belize
+011 501 605 0345