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Coral Gardens
Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens

Ambergris Caye, Belize

The Basics

This vibrant coral labyrinth is swarming with fish, making it a popular diving and snorkeling destination. In order to access the site, book a guided half-day tour, which departs from Caye Caulker and typically includes other stops such as Caye Caulker’s Shark Ray Alley. The reserve is a marine protected area that’s suitable for all levels of divers and snorkelers because of its relatively shallow waters. Plus, you can also head out on a night dive to see octopus, slipper lobsters, stone crabs, blood worms, and other nocturnal invertebrates come alive in the dark.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • This site is ideal for beginners because it’s sheltered from waves.
  • Be sure to bring a waterproof camera; you can rent a GoPro at some dive shops.
  • Wear a lightweight wetsuit to stay warm in the water, especially if you plan to spend an extended amount of time snorkeling.
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How to Get There

A 15-minute boat ride away from the small island of Caye Caulker, Coral Gardens is located within the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, and the only way to visit it is through a guided tour. To reach Caye Caulker from San Pedro, it’s a 30-minute boat ride; from Belize City, it’s a little over an hour by boat.

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When to Get There

If you’re planning to dive, visit between February and May, if possible, for the best weather and visibility. But this also falls during cruise season, so expect to encounter large crowds of tourists during this time. If you’re a foodie, head to Caye Caulker in June, which marks the beginning of lobster season in Belize, and is when Miss Lobster Fest is crowned at the Caye Caulker Lobster Festival.

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Wildcard

Hol Chan Marine Reserve Another popular snorkeling and diving site, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is also accessible from Caye Caulker, boasts a more extensive exploration area than the Caye Caulker reserve and is divided into various zones. Its most popular zone, Hol Chan, is home to corals as well as angelfish, turtles, nurse sharks, hogfish, and snappers.

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