E-Z Boy Tours offers trips to Hol-Chan or 3 hours of snorkeling around the island. I opted for the weekend special price of US$17.50 to explore the reef close to Caye Caulker. Luckily, I went on the one morning when the clouds held onto the rain until the end of the trip.
Our laid-back, friendly, and knowledgeable guide, Ian, got down to business once we were loaded on the motorboat. He explained about the first stop, cultivated by locals to attract rays and nurse sharks, and quickly we arrived in shallow water. Immediately the boat was surrounded by large grey bodies. Our eyes grew huge, and several ladies did not want to get in the water. Ian jokingly calmed us, while feeding fish parts to the gentle rays, by saying they haven't lost anyone to a shark yet, but warning not to provoke or bother them. One particular ray seemed to greet Ian and stay on him almost the entire time. Eventually, after the braver souls had proved it safe, I approached to pet the slimy, soft ray.
Wandering off to explore the reef, my eyes were greeted by bright-yellow sunfish darting around purple fans and white coral. There were schools of docile-looking angel fish, largemouth grouper hiding under rocks, electric-blue fish, a green moray eel, and many other special treats you have to find out for yourself. Ian pointed out hidden life on the guided tour of an area of the South Channel.
Then it was onto the third stop for free time around the reef. Watch out for coral that rises above your swimming level, and for the sharp fire coral. Back on the boat, everyone agreed that this was our best view ever while we munched on the fresh pineapple and orange slices. It was such an amazing experience - the true reason to visit Caye Caulker.