Snorkeling the Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve
Rio Santiago offers a spectacular day of snorkeling the Cayos Cochinos, a Caribbean archipelago of 15 keys, roughly 9 miles offshore of mainland Honduras and just south of Roatan Island.
A part of The Meso-American Barrier Reef System, these pristine islands are an extension of the Bay Islands of Honduras. A delicate marine paradise, the Cayos Cochinos and surrounding coral reef have been set aside as a protected biological reserve. The entire protected area encompasses approximately 190 square miles (490 square kilometers).
The reserve is headquartered on one of the larger keys (Cayo Menor) that was first operated as a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Today the center is managed by a private foundation, and relies on support of various conservation groups, as well as eco-tourism. Scientific/educational work at the facility is centered on researching and protecting the reserve’s terrestrial as well as marine, flora and fauna.
Our jumping off point is the small Garifuna village of Sambo Creek, roughly 1 hour east of Rio Santiago. From here we board our 26-foot outboard motor boat and head for the keys. Among the varied and colorful reef residents we may encounter are; spiny lobster, spotted eagle ray, hawksbill sea turtle, nurse shark, queen angelfish, and many, many others. The trip includes approximately two hours of snorkeling as well as a short hike and introduction to terrestrial island ecosystems. We finish our visit to Cayos Cochinos with a freshly prepared, beach-side seafood lunch at an island Garifuna village.
This tour leaves at 6:00 AM and normally returns by 4:00PM. Rio Santiago can provide fins, masks and snorkels upon request.
*While extremely beautiful and generally calm, the Caribbean Sea is changeable in the afternoon and the return trip can sometimes be rough. Rio Santiago always follows our boat captain’s recommendations regarding weather and sea conditions.