Can you Belize snorkeling isn’t at the top of everyone’s list in Placencia? Woo – pun accomplished. But in all seriousness, Belize flies massively under the radar when it comes to all the amazing things they have to offer. While the coast is famous for its whale shark diving and snorkeling opportunities, its barrier reef and surrounding areas make it a prime location for the more casual saltwater enthusiast and snorkeler. Perhaps the most famous place to explore these reefs is the Silk Cayes (pronounced “keys”), an hour outside of Placencia by boat, near Gladden Spit and a stone’s throw from the barrier reef. So buckle up for an amazing time if you sign up for a Belize snorkeling tour, particularly with one of our favorite providers, Splash Dive Shop!
Boyfriend Perspective: Woohoo!! Surf, sun, and sand!! It’s about time we did this again.
What to expect from your Belize snorkeling tour with Splash Dive Shop
Since luck had us staying at Chabil Mar – i.e. directly across the street from Splash Dive Shop – we walked over on our last morning in Placencia to hop on a boat for our all-day snorkeling trip to Silk Cayes. After getting our gear, we shared dive boat Princess Ailsa (Elsa!) with one other adventurer, who happened to be Deborah of Oceans and Animals. As an avid diver, she spent much of our ride out to the reef chatting with Julio, our dive master. Which meant that we ended up with a pretty private reef tour with Ruth, our snorkel guide.
After the boat dropped us snorkelers on the main Silk Caye, we got a briefing from the Gladden Spit ranger stationed there, set out preparation for our picnic lunch, and hopped in the water for our first look at the reef. We made three runs, in total, each with their own charm and sights.
The first run on our Belize snorkel tour took us around the main Silk Caye, the second took us out to another patch of reef off the caye’s coast, and the third took us a few minutes away to Turtle Spot, where we checked out some of the larger wildlife in the area. In between run 1 and 2, we stopped for a lunch of fried chicken, rice and beans, fresh watermelon, and water and juice. Finally, we hopped back on the boat for the longish ride back to Placencia.
Boyfriend Perspective: The last time we snorkeled was in Luis Peña Marine Reserve, Culebra, Puerto Rico and this was a completely different experience. We don’t snorkel often, since Virginia water makes it difficult (we whale watch instead…). But checking out reefs in different locations may be something we look to do. This exceptional experience could only have been better if the water had been calmer, making visibility better. Also, snorkel lunch food is amazing!!
Other things to know about your Belize snorkeling tour
- If you visit between June and September, you’ll be seeing Belize just as the rainy season decides to crash the tropical party. This means you’ll see some rain every day, which isn’t terrible, but storms blowing in from the open ocean can mean that your visibility will be reduced for snorkeling. You can tell from our pictures that we didn’t have the clearest water, as there had been moderate storms every day we spent on the coast and the water was still fairly choppy, even on the reef.
- This isn’t the place to see whale sharks or other huge ocean creatures, though Splash Dive Shop and Seahorse Dive Shop both offer seasonal, reputable whale shark diving and snorkeling tours – contact one or both for more information. That takes open-water snorkeling, which isn’t for the faint of heart (or stomach!).
Boyfriend Perspective: I thought I could handle open water snorkeling and I was horribly wrong. Once we got outside the barrier reef, the water got bluer and the waves got bigger. 6-7 feet bigger!! Our guides had mentioned that earlier in the week it was 15-20 feet swells(!) because of the storm that had followed us to Placencia. I cannot imagine how I would have survived that. Unless you have experienced this before, I recommend ginger pills or something for nausea just to be careful.
- Snorkeling in Belize isn’t redundant if you’ve already snorkeled in the Caribbean. We saw TONS of new (to us) species of fish and other wildlife. It’s 100% worth the trip!
Amazing Belize snorkeling at the Silk Cayes: A photo essay of swimming with exotic fish, lagerhead turtles, and nurse sharks
The Silk Cayes are a part of the Gladden Spit reserve, an ocean preserve intended to keep Belize’s reef coast pristine and natural. Fishing here is highly regulated and limited, which means you get to take home more wildlife in your camera than folks do in their coolers.
Bonus! On our way home from our amazing Belize snorkeling tour, we stopped at Hatchet Caye for a drink.
Our guides pointed out one of the private islands we passed as Hatchet Caye, a lovely resort about 45 minutes from the mainland – and with a public bar and pool. With a couple of good-natured “please, please, please!” sessions from Deborah and us, our guides chuckled and steered us up to the dock. To be fair, they didn’t take THAT much convincing.
Even the public parts of this private resort are incredibly luxurious, from the beautiful open air bar to the amazing views of the ocean and reef. Deborah got a delicious watermelon cocktail, and our guides all snagged Cokes. We rinsed off in the pool and enjoyed the sun and drinks then, after a quick time check, hopped back in the boat and headed back to the mainland.
Boyfriend Perspective: This place was NICE! This now has a space on the short list of awesome places to stay on future vacations. Who doesn’t dream of living on a small Caribbean island every now and then?
Full day Belize snorkeling tour? Check!
We had an AMAZING time on our lovely Belize snorkeling tour out to Silk Cayes, Turtle Spot, and (surprise!) Hatchet Caye. It gave us everything we had hoped to get from our prior open-water snorkeling trip – minus the whale sharks, of course – with a relaxed, chill, beautiful vibe. Ruth, Julio, and everyone at Splash Dive Shop helped make this the incredibly special trip that it was – and we couldn’t have asked for a better time!
Have you ever snorkeled off the coast of Placencia or anywhere else in Belize? What was your experience like? Share below!