Is Shark Ray Alley Scary?
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When you search "things to do in Belize", one of the first things that comes up is "Swimming with the sharks". It's also one of the options for you, when you port for a cruise - that's how my sister did it! To be honest, I had my hesitations. I even took to instagram stories to poll y'all to see if I should consider doing it. Over 85% of y'all said yes, but then I asked a couple people if they would actually do it and they said NO. Talk about a double standard! (lol)
Anyway, I mentioned it before in some of my Belize posts, but we didn't officially plan anything before going to Belize - kinda on purpose and kinda because we are so busy. I don't recommend doing this, but since we went right before peak season, it really wasn't an issue. I made sure to ask about every single Belizean I encountered if swimming with the sharks was scary and should we do it. My favorite response was from a local who said that his 6 year old son can do it, so I should be just fine... That kind of sold me!
We booked through our resort Las Terrazas. Lucky for us, the dive shop they use, is quite literally next door! The location was actually used to be part of some shoot that Playboy Bunny did? Ya know #funfact They had a combo deal that we did that involved snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve andddd swimming at Shark Ray Alley.
We hopped aboard our boat, then went to pick up another family, who I swear had a 4 or 5 year old son. More on that later... We started out at Hol Chan. It's a marine reserver, so no one is allowed to fish and the marine life is abundant! I wish I could say that we saw some sea turtles, but we didn't. It was actually a really weird ocean day, as the salt water was mixing with the fresh water, causing a cloudy dive. I thought we would just flop around until we were done, then get back in the boat. NOPE! One of our boat captains took us around the entire reef! I guess I just wasn't mentally prepared, because I got really tired really quickly, but I kept telling myself that if the little boy could do it I could. I should have asked for a life jacket to float around on and I would have probably enjoyed it more. You can also scuba here - one of the other guys and our other boat captain did. They said it was good, but again, the water wasn't the best.
Next we stopped at Conch Graveyard and snorkeled some more, as the only man allowed to clean them was there, meaning sea life surrounded him! We got to see sting rays, fish, and other fun creatures at Hol Chan, but they were up close and personal here!
We drove the boat maybe a couple more yards, and we were arrived at Shark Ray Alley. I'm not sure why, but I guess I pictured a cute little cove or an underwater "alley", but it was nothing like that. It was quite literally open water. There are several schools of nurse sharks and they have learned that people come to feed them. Once your boat arrives, you better hop out asap, in order to get the most time with the nurse sharks. Our boat wasn't a fishing boat, so they didn't have any food to feed them, meaning the sharks would go elsewhere to get food. There was a large charter boat of sorts, with probably 40ish people with them, and as luck would have it, they had chum! We got to see the sharks outside our boat, but got to experience them a lot better because of the other boat. Honestly, it wasn't scary at all! They couldn't care less that you are in the water...they just want food. Nurse sharks also don't really have teeth, so it's not like they can chomp on you. I actually asked one of our boat captains what it would feel like if I got bitten and he said kinda like a strawberry -you know when you skid your elbow or knee on something and it just peels the skin back? Also, unlike other sharks (like a great white) the nurse sharks felt like sand paper! One brushed up against me and it was kind of insane!
I will say what did scare me were the sting rays. When I first got out of the boat. I purposely went off to the side to stay away from the sharks and such, but also so I could view interacting! Little did I know, a sting ray came up and gave me a hug! Like basically got on my back and I screamed and grabbed onto Nick. The boat captain in the water had a field day with that! The sting ray didn't do anything wrong and the vast majority are not as friendly, or so our guide said. He mentioned that there is usually one who always likes to say hello. I was afraid of being stung and apparently you really only get stung if you step on one? You can never be too careful! What you do need to be aware of are lionfish. You really only see those while diving, so if you're snorkeling, you should be good!
So would you have swam with the sharks?! Overall I would recommend doing it! If you get to Shark Ray Alley and decide you don't want to hop in the water, then don't! You can see a ton of action just from the boat; however, it was definitely something to remember! If you want to snorkel, but don't care about Shark Ray Alley, then I would suggest Mexico Rocks. Let me know if you have done anything else super fun in Belize. I have the ruins on my list for next time, but not much else! See my other Belize posts, click here:
Or just type Belize in my search bar and see all my posts or click here.
P.S. here's a video recap of our trip in Belize! Around the 2:25 mark, you see a snippet of us snorkeling and in the water with the sharks!
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