As I mentioned before, we were quite surprised when we arrived in Belize and found that there were basically no beaches and no snorkeling from the shore. Just to explain, in most places on Ambergris Caye, the ocean just comes up to the shoreline and there are only a couple "beaches" on the island because the water is full of seagrass close to the shore and the reef is too far away to swim to. They also do not recommend swimming off the shore because too many boats speed by and you could get hit. You must take a tour boat or charter a boat to do any snorkeling or diving. I would recommend chartering a boat if you have a large group or if you can find other tourists that are interested in the same activities. This can save you money because snorkeling trips range from $25-$40/pp US for a half day and $80-$150/pp US for a full day.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark/Ray Alley snorkeling trip is an excellent half day trip. We especially enjoyed interacting with the nurse sharks and rays. We also chartered an excellent full day snorkeling/fishing "beach BBQ" with Unity Tours. We fished for our lunch, then went to a remote beach and our guide prepared and cooked it for us. It was superb!! Then we had 3 snorkeling stops and more fishing after lunch and it was such a great tour because our guide let us spend as much time as we wanted at each stop. This ended up being about a nine-hour trip and it cost $250 which we split with another couple we had met so it was well worth it!!
There was also ONE good spot to snorkel without going out on a boat. You can snorkel off the dock at Ramon's Village and they also have one of the only beaches on the island. There was great snorkeling at this spot!!
There was one tour we went on that was very disappointing. It was a full day snorkeling trip booked through Belizean Adventures. We paid $90/pp for this trip and unfortunately during the 8 hr trip, we only spent 90 minutes snorkeling. Everyone on the tour was upset and the guides probably should have never taken us out that day because it was raining and the current was very strong while we were trying to snorkel. We learned from this trip to make sure and ask how much time is spent snorkeling on the trip, not just how long the trip is.
As I said before, this trip was not what we thought it would be. The weather did not cooperate as the wind was strong most days, so the boat trips got cancelled. We usually snorkel everyday of our vacations so it was disappointing that the boat trips got cancelled and that you could not snorkel from the shore. It was also SO HOT and it was frustrating that you could not just get in the water. We went to Belize because we had heard that it is one of the best places to snorkel, but from what we saw, we don't buy it. It was good snorkeling, but not excellent like Grand Cayman. Overall we would say excellent food, good snorkeling, poor island, fair service, poor transportation, fair accommodations (poor where we stayed), and overall a trip not worth the price!!