Through umpteen publications, time and time again Belize has been named a must-do for diving enthusiasts. Those who get their fix from trailing giant manta rays or observing graceful whale sharks will be elated to swim in Belize’s waters. Letting your GoPro capture the smile of a Loggerhead or feel the sandpapery skin of a friendly nurse shark as it swims near your feet is nothing short of bewildering. To help you experience this phenomenal aquatic life that inhabits Belize’s reef, here are 10 best spots to put your diving certification to good use.*
- The Elbow at Turneffe. Being the largest of the three atolls in Belize, this stretches to an approximate 30 miles in length and 10 miles in width. The Elbow at Turneffe is a popular dive site attracting large schools of jacks, snappers, sharks, eagle rays and larger fish than you are likely to see elsewhere on the Belize reef. Expect to find a beautiful wall with huge gorgonians and sponges. Its water temperature ranges between 75 – 85 degrees and visibility from 75 – 80 feet with maximum dive depths of 60 to 120 feet.
- The Great Blue Hole. Is a perfectly circular limestone sink hole located on the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. It measures more than 1000 feet across and descends to an approximate depth of 412 feet. Huge stalactites can be found at depths starting around 100 feet/30mt hanging from the ceiling of caves. The formation of these stalactites and sheer-sided wall is the most interesting feature of this dive. Giant groupers, nurse sharks, reef sharks and black tip sharks may be encountered inside the Blue Hole. The top of the hole starts at around 35 feet/10mt and is sheer rock until you reach the stalactite formations at about 110 feet/33mt. The circular reef area which surrounds the Blue Hole provides an attractive opportunity for snorkelers to enjoy the Blue Hole. The coral breaks surface in some areas at low tide.
- White Sands at Glover’s Reef. Is a partially submerged atoll located in southern Belize, with a white sandy bottom with depths of approximately 50 to 60 feet. It is home to many underwater species of groupers, spotted eagle rays, turtles and marine life which will be sure to make your dive a spectacular one.
- Trick Ridge. Is located approximately 0.2 nautical miles east of Carrie Bow Caye, Trick Ridge has a unique formation of corals that go deep and then shallow. Marine life includes big barrel sponges with cleaning stations where huge barracudas and groupers visit resident cleaner shrimps. Also to be seen here are colorful tube and vase sponges that attract many juvenile-spotted drums. Dive depths are between 40 – 100 feet.
- Half Moon Wall. Is located at the southeast edge of Lighthouse Reef. An exceptional dive site with visibility of 100feet with dive depths that range between 30 to 120 feet. The wall starts at 20 to 30 feet and is spectacular with deep gullies, swim-through and overhangs and an amazing profusion of gorgonians, sponges and hard corals. There is an abundance of marine life, manta rays, eagle rays, sharks and a variety of pelagics along the wall.
- Esmeralda Canyons. Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) is the host to the Esmeralda Canyons. Diving at this site you are filled with coral ridges and Canyons in deep rich white sands. The marine life is spectacular as at the Canyons you can see an abundance of aquatic life. The well-known site boasts an exquisite wildlife population as its many protected areas nearby. The maximum depth of Esmeralda Canyons is 70 feet.
- Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. Is located approximately 40 miles east of Punta Gorda. The eastern and western boundaries of the reserve follow the 100-meter depth contours along the reef consisting of shallow patches of reef, sea grass beds and deep walls with a variety of beautiful Caribbean fishes visiting the reserve. Snappers, parrotfish groupers, jacks, grunts, and many other species of fish can often be seen at the outer reef.
- Gladden Spit Marine Reserve. The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve located near Placencia in Southern Belize, is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including the cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This is what attracts the Whale Shark to the Gladden spit. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet/18mt. Divers and snorkelers get a rare opportunity to swim along with this magnificent creature. The wall here slopes down to 160 feet/50mt then drops off into the blue abyss. Diving is done in mid water at a depth no deeper than 60 feet/18mt in groups no larger than 12 divers with their dive masters.
- Aquarium at Long Caye (Lighthouse Reef). The Aquarium named for its variety of small reef fish is located right off the northwestern side of Long Caye. Depth ranges from 25 -130 feet. It boasts as it sits along the Lighthouse Atoll with the enmeshment of marine life including different sizes and colors.
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley. Loosely translated from Maya as Little Channel, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is perfect for snorkeling or diving in depths of approximately 30 feet. Here you see schools of grouper, snapper and barracuda. Shark Ray Alley offers you the rare opportunity to snorkel beside stingrays, nurse sharks and turtles.
(*Information source Belize Tourism Board Dive Brochure)
For more spots on diving, or perhaps snorkeling, feel free to email us at [email protected] or call us toll-free at 1-800-624-0686.