Belize Barrier Reef
Spanning Belize's coastline for 185 miles is the Belize Barrier
Reef with dive sites inside and outside of the reef. Just outside
look for Spur and Grove formations - narrow canyons of corals
are great for spotting grouper and the occasional eel.
Inside the reef, patch reefs are covered with hundreds of brightly
coloured fish and coral species.
For something a little different, try snorkelling or diving near
a mangrove coloured island "the nursery of the sea"
where you are sure to find tiny barracuda, snapper and other fish
whose parents you might have seen in deeper water.
· Hol Chan - Belize's first marine reserve where the fish
are huge and quite adapted to human presence.
· The Wall
· Shark Ray Alley
· Stingray Flats
· Goff's Caye
· Rendevous Caye
· Tobacco Caye - great spur and grove formations just east
of the island.
· South Water Caye Marine Reserve - Belize's largest marine
· Silk Cayes - home to the world's largest population of
whale sharks during the months of February to May.
· Gladden Spit
· Laughingbird Caye - Belize's smallest marine reserve.
· Sapodilla Cayes
Belize boasts three offshore atolls: Turneffe, Glover's Reef and
Lighthouse Reef. Together they easily provide over a hundred dive
and snorkelling sites for the adventurous visitor.
· Turneffe Atoll, the largest of three atolls found in
Belize, is 30 miles long. The water dept measures between 55 and
65 feet. Some dive sites in this atoll are Hollywood, Jill's Thrill,
Cabbage Patch, the Elbow, The Coral, Gorgonian Bluff, the Secret
Spot, Birthday Reef and Rendezvous Wall. Snorkelling areas are
Bat Brook Shallows and Billy Bob's Shallows.
· Glover's Reef, which is most south of the three, is often
overlooked. It has a diameter of some 40 miles with over 700 shallow
patch reefs in its interior. Diving sites include Octopus Alley,
Manta Reef, Hole in the Wall, Parrotfish Falls, Shark Point, Gorgonia
Gallery, Long Caye Cut, Turtle Tavern and Dolphin Dance. With
the numerous patch reefs this is a great place for snorkeling
· Lighthouse Reef is the farthest from the mainland but
unlike Glover's Reef gets plenty of visitors. Depth near the reef
is around 9 feet. The great Blue Hole at the center of Lighthouse
Reef is described as one of the best dive sites on Earth and a
must for all advanced divers. It has a dept of 480 feet with stalagtites
at 130 feet. Other diving sites are Manta Wall, the Zoo, Cathedral
and Half Moon Wall.The waters off Hat Caye are great for snorkeling.
provides few wreck dive opportunities because many wrecked ships
actually lodged atop the reef system above water. There is also
little chance of finding valuables. Anything you find of value
belongs to the state and cannot be kept.
couple underwater wrecks are:
Sayonara in Turneffe Atoll - This was a transport boat sitting
at 45 feet below the surface.
HMS Advice - Turneffe Atoll - This is the wreck of a British naval
cutter which sunk to 16 feet on June 1, 1793.
of Belize's marine system, from north to south, is protected with
many falling under the category of World Heritage Sites. This
means that these areas and their inhabitants cannot be destroyed
or harmed in any way. Care must be taken when on dives not to
touch corals or increase sedimentation onto them.
Temperature - Water temperature usually remains constant around
70 to 75 F. Higher temperatures are 80 F.
Tides - Not usually a factor for dives because the range is small
at 1 to 11/2 feet except in extreme conditions of tropical storms.
Winds - Northeast wind can produce huge swells, which can make
diving difficult on exposed shores in the north, but this is usually
steady at 5 to 15 knots.
Waves - Wave action minimal inside the reef or on the unexposed
side of atolls.
Visibility - Maximum visibility of 165 feet or 50 meters. In case
of storms the visibility reduced to 65 to 100 feet or 20 to 30
levels of dive courses include discover scuba programs, refresher
courses, open water and advance open water courses. Certification
is available for PADI, NAUII and in some areas NITROX diving.
for the first time diver or the experienced diver; diving in Belize
will be a great experience. If:
· you are already certified, be sure to bring your C card;
· you want to do your open water certification, be sure
to bring the paperwork from your previous training;
· you want to be fully certified and have about a week,
be prepared to read your manuals and do classes daily;
· you've never dove before and want to see what it's like
ask about a Resort Course which will teach you to use the equipment
in safe and supervised depths of no more than 20-30 feet.
In case of dive emergencies, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye has a Hyperbaric
Chamber which is accessible to dive operators 24 hours a day.
A $1 US per tank insurance fee is charged by most dive shops to
cover the use of the chamber in the event of such an emergency.
The medical staff has over 15 years experience.
Lightweight lycra dive suits or nylon "skins" work fine.
They keep you warm on a night dive but for most dives, a swimsuit
is adequate. If you need more insulation 1/16 inch suits should
be the most you should need. Don't leave home without your dive
certification card if you have one.
There are thousands of snorkelling sites of varying depths. If
you've never snorkelled before it is a good idea to try your equipment
in water you can stand in first. If you're uncomfortable, try
using a life jacket for added assurance. Just remember to breathe
steadily through your mouth - once you get a glimpse of what lies
beneath the waves it'll come naturally.