Who has swimming with sharks on their bucket list? Maybe you have considered travelling to Caye Caulker in Belize? You could do both – visit the laid back ‘very chilled’ Caribbean island and swim with sharks at the same time.
For the best diving adventure in Belize, you have a choice of 9 sites that will suit all levels of diving experience from beginner to advanced. In fact, Belize has now been recognised as one of the top diving areas in the world.
Where is Belize
Belize is a small country in Central America which borders Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South with the Caribbean Sea to the east. There are over 200 Cayes (islands) in Belize, most of them located within the Barrier Reef Reserve. We found it to be a very laid-back Caye, great restaurants, cold beer and Reggae Music playing 24/7.
(Editor Update 2020)
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The #1 Top Things to do in Belize – Swimming With Sharks
We have never swum with Sharks and one of us had never snorkelled in open waters, so the thought of swimming with sharks was overwhelming. The pressure was on, most of the travellers we met in Caye Caulker all talked enthusiastically about swimming with the sharks in the Hoi Chan Marine Reserve.
Checking around with the locals to find the right tour company to take us out for the day the general consensus was to book Carlos’s Tours, he was one of the original companies and Carlos is an accomplished underwater photographer and offers all his guests a CD featuring photographs from their snorkel outing.
To Travel Too Tip:
The best way to contact Carlos at Carlos Tours is to visit his office on the island.
We headed off to find Carlos and book for the following day. As part of our tour costs, USD20 per person is a fee for the protection of the reef in Belize and this is handed to the Park Ranger whose office by day is a boat situated at the entrance to the reef area. Full snorkelling gear is provided.
There were 3 other couples besides us and we introduced ourselves and settled in for the 45-minute ride to the reef.
Jane has no experience in swimming with strong currents and is a novice in snorkelling and is finding this all a bit nerve-wracking. Carlos is a patient and confident experienced tour leader and soon had her in the water swimming with the sharks!
With our snorkel gear on we all jumped off the side of the boat and immediately saw large sea turtles heading towards us, eels and brightly coloured schools of fish.
Coming face to face with a black groper Jane flinched and motioned that she was eating his brother the other night. As we were snorkelling, Carlos was free diving, swimming and filming us underwater.
The current was quite strong but Jane managed to stay down with the group with assistance from Carlos.
45 minutes later we headed off to lunch at our own cost on Ambergris Caye in Belize.
Where To Eat in Ambergris Caye
For the top 10 restaurants in Ambergris Caye click here.
Why We Did Not Stay in Ambergris Caye
We had considered spending a few nights in Ambergris Caye but we are so glad we didn’t. It is more commercialised, has cars and definitely has not got that laid back feeling of Caye Caulker.
Shark Alley Belize
Our next stop was Shark Alley where we snorkelled with Nurse Sharks and Stingrays. Prior to snorkelling Carlos throws smelly fish into the ocean to feed them before we all get in.
We jumped off the side of the boat and joined hundreds of Nurse Sharks and the Stingrays that have joined the feeding frenzy. It is not as frightening as we all thought, thanks to Carlos and his feeding program.
We were joined by some very large stingrays.
Next up was swimming with the Manatees, large gray mammals that are closely related to the elephant and the hyrax (a small gopher sized mammal). Carlos motored around the reserve looking for signs of the Manatee and located a female.
She had flippers at the front and she came towards us and stared at you with her wrinkled face with whiskers on her snout. As we packed up to leave to go back to shore she surfaced with her nose, had a sniff around and then sinks back into the ocean.
Back at Carlos’s office we waited whilst he loaded the photos on his computer and produced a CD for us all to keep.
Caye Caulker Hotels
Wondering where to stay on Caye Caulker? We list the top 3 best places to stay in Caye Caulker. We did stay at the De Real McCaw but recent reviews have not been too favourable.
Island Magic Beach Resort at Avenida Hicaco is a non-smoking hotel that has a pool, beach, bar and lounge.
Jan’s Hotel is located at 52 Hicaco Avenue Front Street on Caye Caulker. It is a locally-owned hotel close to restaurants and shops and offers a pol, beach and free WiFi.
The Rainbow Hotel is a 3-star hotel on Front Street is a non-smoking hotel with a beach and offers free WiFi.
Airbnb in Belize has a range of properties that suit all types of travellers and budgets.
Travel Information to Belize and Caye Caulker
Airports in Belize
Belize’s International Airport – Philip S W Goldson (BZE) is located 10 miles from Belize City.
Flights to Caye Caulker are serviced by Tropic Air and Maya Air.
Airfares to Belize
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