The Coral Reef Area- Zone A ( Hol Chan Cut)

Vast forests of elkhorn coral, leaf coral and finger coral extend in narrow bands on either side of the cut. Here you'll find strong currents, so be prepared for them.

A Grey Angelfish poses for the camera.

In open areas, tilefish float like ghostly apparitions, guarding the entrance to their hilly burrows piled high with broken pieces of staghorn coral.

A huge cave, 'guarded' by a giant boulder of brain coral, is home to several green moray eels and anemones. Fairy basslets, with purple heads and bright orange bodies, dangle from beneath overhangs and rocky outcroppings.

This is one of the most spectacular dives in the Hol Chan Area, so bring your camera and be ready to capture the beauty of the corals and fishes.

The Hol Chan Cut is only 15 minutes (4 miles) south of San Pedro and about 30 minutes north of Caye Caulker. Trips from San Pedro last about half day, while trips from Caye Caulker last a full day including a visit to San Pedro. During the boat ride to the park, keep an eye out for jumping rays and flying fish.

Due to the protected status of the area, the fish populations have exploded. In waters as shallow as 5 feet, large schools of jacks, groupers, snappers and barracuda abound. Along each side of the cut grow healthy stands of corals and seagrass in shallow water, perfect for the beginner snorkeler. The more experienced swimmer can swim from one side of the cut to the other, experiencing shallow reef, drop offs over the steep sides of the "cut", and seagrass and sand beds in the middle of the channel.

Outside the barrier reef, the ocean bottom gently slopes off into the Caribbean. All levels of diving can be accommodated here due to the variations in depth, from 30 to over 100 foot dives can be planned and executed. Spur and groove formations (hills of coral running parallel to valleys of sand) provide rich habitat for marine life. Spotted eagle rays and other pelagic creatures swim above the reef while the more cryptic life like lobsters and eels fill the holes and tunnels through the coral spurs.

It is necessary to use common sense and check with local knowledge prior to diving the Hol Chan Channel. During times of maximum tidal flow, the currents can be too strong to swim against. Whenever snorkeling in Belize, and especially at Hol Chan, it is essential that you have a good pair of fins and mask.

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