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At first thought, I would recommend the snorkeling in Belize. I say that based on the fact that it's the second largest barrier reef in the world, and I dove there a few years ago and had a phenominal time. But also, and hopefully someone else will chime in, I wonder if the snorkeling expeditions have been so concentrated at either location that they've killed off most of the good eye candy. Belize is known for their rigorous reef protection, so I would assume they also do a good job of keeping damage to a minimum. Costa Maya has only really been a cruise port for a few years now, whereas perhaps people have been going on those reefs in Belize longer?
While I have not snorkeled in Costa Maya, I can say the snorkeling in Belize is absolutely amazing! To be honest, I can imagine stopping Belize and not snorkeling the reef. I would recommend booking one of the tours after you get off the ship. They are much less expensive. We did this on our last cruise about a year ago and it worked out great. When we got off the ship there were several tour operators on the pier offering tours. We ended up going with Eco-tours and had an unforgettable trip. I later found them online. The website is http://www.ecotoursbelize.com/about_us.html if you'd like to check it out. Hope this is helpful!
Majesty of the Seas 10/11
Carnival Valor 05/10
Carnival Destiny 10/08
Norwegian Sun 02/07
Carnival Celebration 10/05
For Belize snorkeling we'd suggest that you also look into Coral Breeze.com as they have a two stop trip with a local lunch on Caye Caulker that we do two times each year & do enjoy this trip. Their web site will explain all of your options.
In Costa Maya we walk to the beach that you will see on the right as you walk the dock toward the shopping area. Do a search here for directions. Here you snorkel from the beach in shallow water.
Good luck. Bill in FL
Just got back from Belize - loved snorkeling with Coral Breeze. They were soooo Friendly! Well put together. We had a nice trip over to Caye Caulker - saw dolphins along the way. Henny and Mark did a great job of taking the group along a snorkel tour of the Hol Chan marine reserve. Our friend was not a great snorkeler - was very nervous - and they took great care of him! The snorkeling with Stingrays was great too. The water was a little too deep for me to stand (5'2), but it was great to snorkel with them. We booked lunch too and it was delicious!! We had a little bit of time to walk the shores on the Caye and it was a really pretty island. I totally recomment Coral Breeze!