Hol Chan Currents
San Pedro and the island routinely has incidents that lead to drowning deaths on the reef.
Strong currents pull the tourist/victim outside the barrier of the reef into peril.
Ambergris Caye has classic rip currents that can be avoided easily if the person understands how they work.
The area between the shore and reef fill with water when the tides come in, and as the tides go out the natural breaks in the reef are exit points called Cuts and form the rip current. Hol Chan is one of these cuts. The Island has a cut about every mile or so along the crest of the reef. The cuts are named by the locals and are used as portals for their boats to go in and out of the barrier reef. Some of the names are Tuffy, Tres Cocos, Mata, Mexico Rocks, Basil Jones, etc. The cuts are also natural magnets for marine life and ironically make the best sites to observe the wonders of the reef.
Imagine the area inside the reef between the shore and reef crest as a giant bathtub and the cuts in the reef are the drain plugs. In and around the tub there is no current but as you get close to the drain plug the current increases just as it does in the cut, you get too near or in the drain the current becomes irresistible and sucks you in or in the case of our reef it sucks you outside the barrier. Belizean Tour guides are Rescue divers, Divemasters , Instructors and Snorkel Guides. They are trained and learn what to do and what not do when in a cut.
Number one way to stay out of trouble when diving and snorkeling in the cut is be with a knowledgeable guide and pay attention to his briefing.