Swimming with Sharks & Sting Rays in Belize

This past summer we went on a Carnival cruise on the ship Miracle for 7 days in the Caribbean. When the boat docked in Belize, we decided to go on a ship excursion to Shark and Ray Alley recommended by my aunt. We booked it ahead of time but if there are still open spots you can book it while you are on the ship plus there were other tour options to Shark and Ray Alley after you disembark. Off the boat we easily found our tour group in Belize City on the pier. After a quick (and free!) bathroom break in a nearby store, we boarded a smaller boat for the 50 minute ride to the small island of Caye Caulker.

Once on the island, we donned our swimsuits and were given mask and fins (provided with the tour) for snorkeling later! We piled back on the boat and rode about 10 minutes to part of the Mesoamerican reef, the second largest reef in the world. We flopped out the side of the boat into the water to explore. We followed along with a few of our guides while they picked up random finds from the ocean floor for us to see. At one point one of the guides swam up and put a starfish in my hands! Towards the end of the hour long snorkel, one of our guides shot off chasing after a puffer fish. Once he “tired it out” he brought it over for everyone to see!

We clambered back onto the boat for a short 5-10 minute ride to Shark and Ray Alley. Throughout many generations, fisherman have come to this area to gut their fish. Over the years, nurse sharks and sting rays began to associate the sound of a boat’s revving engine with easy food.  Our driver revved the engines drawing the animals close while our guides threw bits of fish off the side splashing it against the water. While they were occupied, we jumped into the water on the opposite side of the boat (so they didn’t mistake us for food… yikes!)

Shark_Ray_alley_sharks

Once in the water the sharks and sting rays swam all around us, close enough that they’d brush up against us! The guides brought the sting rays close (with the help of a few fish) so we could pet them while they practically swam into us. Some of the guides would also bring the sharks close, holding them upside down so we could feel their bellies. Just be sure not to touch too close to their mouths!

After the terrifying but fun experience we climbed back onto the boat and headed back towards Caye Caulker Island. Complimentary rum punch drinks helped us unwind and relax on the short ride. We spent the next 1.5 hours at our leisure, eating and drinking at the Lazy Lizard restaurant and walking along the beach. Overall we were so happy we decided to do this excursion. We loved having such a unique experience in this beautiful country. Plus now I can cross swimming with sharks off my bucket list!

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