Belize: Hol Chan Marine Preserve
Hol Chan Marine Preserve, between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker protects a stretch of the Belize Barrier Reef (itself a part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second longest barrier reef in the world). Great snorkeling here with plenty of marine life – nurse sharks, stingrays, and a lot of fish. The corals are abundant as well, although the reef here is not as spectacular as it say in Australia or French Polynesia. We got super lucky to swim with an eagle ray, not a common sight. And beware of the floating sargassum seaweed, unusually high amounts, as some of them have tiny jellyfish larvae hiding in them that will deliver and painful skin burn. There is a spot in the Hol Chan Marine Preserve where long time ago fishermen would stop to clean up the fish before going ashore. And hundreds of bottom-feeding reef sharks and stingrays used to gather for the feast. The still come to the boat and you can observe them from the top or swim with them or both. Nurse sharks are usually 3m (10ft) long and slow moving along the bottom. They are actually nocturnal hunters and opportunistic during the day. Upon hearing the boat engine, they rush to the boat hoping for a feeding.