Your Friend the Nomad

How to Visit Shark and Ray Alley in Belize

Shark and Ray Alley, also called, Shark Ray Alley, is one of the most popular places to snorkel near Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.

Swimming beside dozens of friendly nurse sharks and stingrays here is definitely one of the best things to do in Belize, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are actually two different shark ray alleys, and you need to go with a local tour guide to visit either of them!

On my recent 1-month trip through Belize I had the chance to go snorkeling a handful of times, and I visited both shark ray alleys on two different tours. If you’re curious about the difference between the two shark and ray alleys, which snorkel tours are best, and whether its even safe to swim with these animals, this article is for you, keep reading!

Sharks near boat at Shark Ray Alley Belize

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🌺 My Belize Favorites 🏝

🤿 Barrier Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Belize has the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced! You can book guided snorkel and dive trips from Hopkins, San Pedro, or Caye Caulker. Browse Belize snorkel and dive trips.

🌲 Escape to Mountain Pine Ridge: Climb up in elevation to a cooler (and less visited) area with gorgeous waterfalls, fun swimming holes, Mayan ruins, and so much more! You will need a vehicle with 4WD here, but this day trip from San Ignacio is also an option.

🥾 Cave Adventures: Cave tubing is an adventure unique to Belize, and many people come all the way here to experience the ATM Cave, where you can witness human remains and Mayan artifacts.

🚙 Explore the Hummingbird Highway: This breathtaking lush scenic drive connects the Cayo District and the Caribbean coast. Stop along the way at waterfalls, a cenote, a chocolate workshop, caves, and more! My guide to the Hummingbird Highway.

🌴 Where to Stay: A sustainable jungle treehouse beside the beach in Hopkins at Hamanasi, a quiet breezy room at Weezie’s on the vibrant small island of Caye Caulker, or a luxury bungalow overlooking waterfalls at Gaia Riverlodge.

Find more of my Belize favorites and Belize travel tips at the bottom of this article!

Shark Ray Alley Belize

If you’re interested in swimming with sharks in Belize, or seeing majestic sting rays up close, you need to head straight to the iconic Shark Ray Alley! And yes, if you’re afraid to get in the water, you can still enjoy this incredible snorkeling spot by watching sharks and rays swim in the crystal clear water from the safety of the boat.

But if you jump into the shallow water at Shark and Ray Alley, you’ll really be in for a treat! Being surrounded by dozens of gentle sting rays and harmless nurse sharks is a truly unforgettable experience and also a great way to face your fears. After freediving with sharks in Hawaii and here in Belize, I am much more confident snorkeling anywhere because I know what to do if I see a ‘scary’ sea animal.

Since Shark Ray Alley is only a short boat ride away from both Caye Caulker and San Pedro, its the perfect place to snorkel with sharks in Belize! If you’re intrigued, I’ll share the exact stingray and shark snorkeling tours that include a visit to this unique place, including tours departing daily from Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, and Belize City.

Belize Shark and Ray Alley underwater photo

How to Visit Shark and Ray Alley from Caye Caulker

You need to take a boat tour to visit. If you’re staying on the lovely island of Caye Caulker, you have several options for local tours to Shark Ray Alley! Here are my recommendations (including the exact tours I went on!)

1. Shark and Ray Alley Tiki Cruise (1.5 Hours)

If you’re looking for a fun Shark and Ray Alley experience that doesn’t include any other stops, book this fun tiki cruise to Shark Ray Alley from Caye Caulker! You get unlimited rum punch and an extended time of snorkeling, chilling, and wading in the water at the shallow Shark Ray Alley near Caye Caulker. The tiki themed boat is so much fun, and its hosted by my absolute favorite local tour company in Cay Caulker (I went on their tiki sunset cruise and LOVED it).

View current prices and book now

2. 7 Stops Full Day Caye Caulker Snorkeling Tour

If you want to experience Shark Ray Alley along with a handful of other incredible snorkel spots, book this full-day snorkeling tour. In addition to visiting the Shark Ray Alley near Ambergris Caye (with the bigger nurse sharks), you’ll stop at six other unique spots, including Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Coral Gardens at Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, the Sunken Barge, the Conch Shell Graveyard, the Manatees, the Tarpon Feeding Dock. Plus, they try to find sea turtles along the way! This is one of the Caye Caulker snorkeling tours I went on and I definitely recommend it!

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3. Private Tiki Snorkeling All Day

If you’ve read my article about Caye Caulker sunset cruises, you’ll know that I loved this tiki boat and its friendly local crew. You can rent the fun tiki boat for custom all-day tours, which can include visiting Shark Ray Alley, and snorkeling at all the best spots near the island! This is a great way to experience Shark Ray Alley Caye Caulker with a small group of friends, fun tiki vibes, and even better tour guides!

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Stingray swimming by at Shark and Ray Alley near Caye Caulker

How to Visit Shark and Ray Alley from Ambergris Caye and San Pedro

You’ll need to book a boat tour to Shark and Ray Alley if you want to visit from Ambergris Caye or San Pedro Town! Here are the best Shark Ray Alley tours from Ambergris Caye:

1. Shark Ray Alley, Snorkeling, and Caye Caulker Day Trip on a Sailboat

This full day snorkeling tour from Ambergris Caye packs in three of the best things to do in Belize: visit shark ray alley, snorkel along the Mesoamerican Reef at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and explore Caye Caulker. Plus, you get to experience it all on a stylish sailboat!

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2. Half Day Shark Ray Alley & Hol Chan Sailboat Tour

If you’re short on time and just want to experience Shark Ray Alley and the gorgeous Hol Chan Marine Park, book this snorkel tour from Ambergris Caye! This sailboat tour lasts 4 hours and departs San Pedro Town twice daily, and 8:30am and 1:30pm.

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3. Full Day Private Catamaran Snorkeling & Shark Ray Alley

Get your group together and rent your own private catamaran for the day! Since the luxury boat and crew are yours for the day, itinerary is customizable and you can visit Shark Ray Alley, and all the other popular snorkeling spots around Ambergris Caye. The rental includes lunch, snacks, water, alcoholic bevvies, and snorkel equipment!

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Two stingrays at Shark Ray Alley in Belize

How to Visit Shark and Ray Alley from Belize City

Staying in Belize City or visiting for a day during a Caribbean cruise? You can still experience the wonder of Shark Ray Alley on one of these guided day trips with roundtrip transport from Belize City:

1. Shark Ray Alley & Hol Chan Snorkeling from Belize City

This half day snorkeling tour from Belize City is perfect for anyone staying here or for cruise passengers looking for a shore excursion to Shark and Ray Alley. The five hour tour includes roundtrip transportation from Belize City, a guided snorkel through Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a visit at Shark Ray Alley, plus some time to explore Caye Caulker.

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2. Shark Ray Alley & Coral Gardens Snorkeling from Belize City

This is another great Belize City day trip to Shark Ray Alley and Caye Caulker for cruisers and folks staying in Belize City. You’ll get to experience Shark Ray Alley, snorkel through the gorgeous Coral Gardens of the Belize Barrier Reef, and spend some time exploring Caye Caulker. The tour includes roundtrip transportation from Belize City, plus rum punch and snacks!

View current prices and book now

Shark and Ray Alley Belize FAQs

What is Shark and Ray Alley?

Shark and Ray Alley is a popular snorkel spot with nurse sharks and stingrays. Historically, local fishermen cleaned their fish here, and sharks and rays would come to eat the scraps.

Today most tour operators come here and chum the water to attract sharks and rays. Even though I am against chumming the water (it created an unhealthy relationship between wildlife and humans), I really enjoyed snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley! And the good news is that there are several tour providers who don’t chum the water, but still take you here.

Since the sharks and rays associate the sound of boat motors with being fed, they still come up to the boats and wait nearby even if they aren’t being fed.

What is the difference between the two Shark Ray Alleys?

There are two spots that local snorkel companies call ‘Shark and Ray Alley’ in Belize, and they’re not too far from each other. One is off the shore of Ambergris Caye, near Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The other is off the shore of Caye Caulker, near Caye Caulker Marine Reserve.

The shark ray alley near Caye Caulker is a shallow area (about 5 feet deep) where you can wade and swim beside small nurse sharks and southern sting rays. When I visited, the sharks here were about 3-5 feet long.

The shark ray alley near Ambergris Caye has water about 8-12 feet deep, and nurse sharks that seem a bit more mature, and much larger (6-9 feet).

I enjoyed snorkeling at both spots, but the experience was quite different. The younger sharks near Caye Caulker were less intimidating and there seemed to be a lot more of them. It was easy to wade and swim in the shallow water here, too! Meanwhile, there seemed to be less sharks near Ambergris Caye, and they were quite large, which was a bit thrilling!

Where is Shark and Ray Alley?

Shark and Ray Alley is located in Belize, near the Belize Barrier Reef, Caye Caulker, and the southern tip of Ambergris Caye.

What species of shark and stingrays can you see?

The sharks you’ll see at Shark Ray Alley are nurse sharks, and the rays you’ll see are southern sting rays. Since it is the open ocean, you could certainly see other species of shark, eagle rays, moray eels, and a diversity of species of fish.

Is it safe to swim with sharks in Belize?

Swimming with nurse sharks in Belize is generally safe! Nurse sharks are known to be harmless to humans, and some even call them friendly. Of course you should use caution when swimming with sharks and listen to all instructions from your tour guide. Remember, you’re more likely to be killed lightning than by a shark!

Is it safe to swim with stingrays in Belize?

It is completely safe to swim with stingrays in Belize, especially at an area like shark and ray alley where the local stingrays are accustomed to swimming besides hundreds of humans each day. Of course, many people know that Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, but he is only one of five people known to have been killed by stingrays. Injuries and deaths by stingrays are extremely uncommon.

Getting Around Mainland Belize

🚙 Renting a Car: The best way to experience all (mainland) Belize has to offer is to rent a car! Just keep in mind that some roads are not in the best shape and you should never drive for the first time after dark (learn the potholes in the light first!) You can compare rental prices from various rental companies here, but I usually end up renting from locally-owned Crystal Auto Rental when I’m in Belize.

🚕 Private Shuttles (and Tours): If you prefer not to drive in Belize, you can easily get around by booking a private shuttle from the airport, and then going on guided tours for all your jungle adventures. This shuttle is also the best option for folks flying into Belize airport and then going directly the islands!

🚍 Public Busses: Riding the local chicken bus is a popular way to get around Belize for backpackers and budget travelers, but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people as the busses are hot, crowded, slow, and unreliable. Spend the extra money for a private shuttle (or car rental) so you can get your destination more quickly and maximize your time in beautiful Belize.

Best Things to do in Belize

🌲 Explore Mountain Pine Ridge: Perhaps the most underrated area of Belize, Mountain Pine Ridge is full of beautiful waterfalls and fun swimming holes, plus the most striking cave I’ve ever seen! You will need a vehicle with 4WD here, but this day trip from San Ignacio is also an option!

🏺 Discover Ancient Ruins: There are far more Mayan ruins here than you could ever expect. I recommend a day trip Tikal (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in nearby Guatemala, a river cruise to Lamanai in Northern Belize, and/or a visit to Xunantunich near San Ignacio.

👙 Experience ATM Cave or go cave tubing: Dare to explore the famous ATM cave system, where you’ll swim upstream until you find rooms with hundreds of Mayan artifacts and human remains. Book your ATM tour here ahead of time (they sell out!) Or, go on a more relaxing cave experience, cave tubing!

🚙 Drive the Hummingbird Highway: Belize’s most scenic drive connects the Cayo District to the Caribbean coastline. Chase waterfalls, swim in a cenote, indulge in local chocolate, go caving, and taste Belize’s famous hot sauce along the way. My guide to the Hummingbird Highway.

🦈 Coral Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Whether you stay in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, or Hopkins, be sure to book a guided snorkeling or diving experience on Belize’s gorgeous barrier reef!

My Favorite Places to Stay in Belize

🤿 Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort in HopkinsThe best place I’ve stayed in Belize! Hamanasi is located in Hopkins, which is said to be the friendliest place in Belize. The town is full of Caribbean charm, and the resort itself is incredible with next-level service, a gorgeous oceanfront property, and wonderful guided day trips to both the jungle and islands. Read my review of Hamanasi.

🌺 Weezie’s in Caye Caulker: My favorite hotel on the vibrant island of Caye Caulker. Weezie’s has a beautiful property on a quieter part of the island, but it is still very close to all of Caye Caulker’s restaurants. Check Weezie’s nightly prices.

🚠 Gaia Riverlodge in Mountain Pine Ridge: The most breathtaking (and peaceful) hotel I’ve ever seen! Gaia is situated on a cliff overlooking the river and mountains in Mountain Pine Ridge, with an excellent onsite restaurant, and a tranquil area by the waterfalls below to relax. Check Gaia Riverlodge nightly prices.

More Belize Travel Guides

🏺 Worth It? Belize’s ATM Cave Tour

🚙 Unforgettable Stops Along the Hummingbird Highway

🚤 Best Lamanai Belize Tours & What to Expect

🐠 My Honest Review of Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort

This post How to Visit Shark and Ray Alley in Belize first appeared on Your Friend the Nomad.