If there ever was a place in South America that defined the term picturesque then it has to be Belize. This small country is situated between Mexico and Guatemala. It has a small population which also makes it the perfect place for exploration and the avid adventurer.
And the land is not the only thing that is captivating about Belize. Dive underwater and you are greeted by a romantic world of sea, ranked high among the best diving locations in the world.
Belize has the world’s longest barrier reef. That alone tells you that you are missing out if you haven’t tried scuba diving in Belize. What more is that Belize has a 185-kilometer coastline with white sandy beaches. This provides the scuba diver with lots of areas where he or she can relax and think about the amazing scenes that they encountered underwater. So, take your best scuba gear package and let go!
These are the 10 best dive sites in Belize.
1. The barrier reef
If you are looking for the largest barrier reef anywhere in the western hemisphere, then look no further than Belize. Just to give you an idea of how large the barrier reef is, think of the 185 kilometer stretch of coastline. The reef stretches the entire length of its coastline.
Most of the diving centers in Belize will mostly take you to the coral canyons. These are a spectacular sight and comprise of the Elkhorn and the brain corals.
When diving into the barrier reef the majority of divers will start at the shallows. They will then go down to around 30 meters. Here you will see the white-spotted toadfish, reef sharks, turtles as well as tiny tropical fish. It’s a good idea to learn all about scuba diving with sharks.
2. Ambergris Caye
This is one of the most infamous scuba diving Belize sites. Ambergris Caye is the largest caye out of over 200 cayes found here. What’s even better is that you can get here by taking a quick flight from Belize city.
Another interesting feature about Ambergris caye is that it will get you the closest to the barrier reef. For divers who prefer taking dives with the local dive centers, you will get to the caye in just a few minutes.
3. Love Tunnels
The love tunnels are located in San Pedro at the Ambergris caye. In fact, many people leave Belize thinking that the best cave scuba diving Belize experience is to be found at the love tunnels. These caves are situated at the bottom of the ocean. While the waters are not overly cold, it’s always a great idea to wear a wetsuit. Other places might even require you to wear a dry suit.
Divers have plenty of fun maneuvering and swimming through the tight spaces. You are likely to find the scorpionfish as well as the drum fish among others.
You can locate the love tunnels dive site around 25 meters away from san Pedro so they are pretty easy to access.
4. Hol Chan marine reserve
Off Ambergris caye is a crack in the barrier reef known as Hol Chan which translates to little channel in the Mayan language.
Most divers will use this to access other sites that are situated outside and away from the barrier reef. This crack is found in the center of the Hol Chan marine reserve.
It is a highly protected park with regular patrols that are intended to prevent people from touching the coral as well as the marine life found here and to also Prevent boats from anchoring here. It is this very protection that allows the barrier reef to thrive and flourish boasting an incredible array of marine life.
The huge and towering Elkhorn corals add to the splendor of the Hol Chan marine reserve.
The crack may be just 10 meters deep, that’s doesn’t mean that you should not make a point to see it whenever you are in Belize. It is definitely a sight to see.
Keep in mind when diving in Belize however that there are strong winds in this location, the upside is that you also get to see huge groups of grouper, jacks, barracuda, and snapper.
5. Esmeralda canyons
The geography at the Esmeralda canyons is mostly long stretches of hard coral ridges. As they extend, they result in deep canyons. They look somewhat like bookshelf rows under the ocean. There are also soft corals here as well.
The environment is simply magical with fans rocking back and forth under the changing of the waves all while the sea plumes are dancing to the ocean.
This is part of the Hol Chan marine reserve. The great thing about this site is that it contains its own collection of canyons and plenty of marine animals.
6. The blue hole
The blue hole lies at the center of the lighthouse reef and is listed among the seven natural wonders of Belize’s world heritage site.
The blue hole is a must dive and anyone coming to Belize should try this. It is 140 meters deep and is over 300meters in length. It is one of the signature dives that Belize has to offer. Ensure you keep track of the stats on the dive computer.
The blue hole also has a near-perfect circumference. The great thing is that you can access it easily being just a few minutes from most of the cases found here.
However, you must be prepared for diving in Belize as this is a very deep sinkhole. You will start by following your guide down to about 40 meters here you will see stalactites that are suspended on the ceiling of the cavern.
Always have a dive watch. You will only have about 8 minutes here before you start walking up the wall for another 15 minutes. This is where the water transitions from freshwater to saltwater. You are going to see some reef sharks and some bull sharks creating a thrilling experience.
If you can view the blue hole from the air, you are going to be amazed by the sheer size of it.
7. Shark ray alley
If you are not much of a diver then you can still have the time of your life enjoying marine life in Belize. Simply grab your snorkel mask and head out to shark ray alley. This is a shallow place where the bottom is flat. In the old days, it was used by fishermen to clean their fish.
The chums of meat that were thrown into the water would bring sharks as well as other types of marine life. This is a great place to bring your underwater camera with you. If you are a good photographer and you know how to take pictures underwater, then you can take beautiful images of sharks and stingrays which will come to feed on the scraps that your guide will bring.
The waters at shark ray alley are crystal clear allowing you to see every detail of the sharks and rays that visit this dive spot. It offers perhaps one of the few opportunities of getting up close and personal with sharks. But not just any sharks, the nurse sharks here are completely harmless.
The sharks over time became accustomed to associating the sound of the boats with food scraps and will swarm here as soon as they realize that the boats are coming.
8. Coral Gardens
As a beginner diver, then you will want to try out your new scuba diving Belize skills at the coral garden. Your eyes will have plenty to feast on as you perform 3 scuba diving breathing techniques for beginners with the huge variety of coral found at low depths.
A coral garden is found on the inner side of the reef as this is a sheltered location. Due to this very fact, there are less powerful currents here which mean easier swimming and plenty more to see. The many colorful fish make for a spectacular and unforgettable view so make sure you bring your diving camera to take back incredible images. Just ensure that you have the best lenses for underwater photography.
Sometimes you will visit the coral gardens as part of the shark ray alley when diving in Belize trip or sometimes you can have an exclusive visit to the coral gardens. It all depends on your preference.
9. The Atolls
There are four true coral atolls in the western hemisphere. Three of these are found in Belize and are named lighthouse, turneffe, and Glover’s. Atolls are simply part of the barrier reef only that they have a circular structure.
If you are diving in Belize enthusiast then you will enjoy spending time at the atolls. Even better is that they are fewer crowds of people here and the reefs go down deep to well over 1,000 meters. Ensure you have a high-quality dive regulator to help you in your ascent and descent.
Feast your eyes on an amazing variety of underwater sights from tall coral pinnacles, coral gardens, and huge vertical walls.
Of the three atolls, it is turned that is the largest. It is also the closest atoll of the three to the mainland and will take you less than an hour from the mainland to reach the turnoff. It offers some of the best dive sites in Belize, especially at the southern tip.
10. Gladden spit
Between March and June, you want to make a point to dive at gladden spot. This is the time of year when you are most likely to spot whale sharks and even swim with them.
If you always wondered how the biggest fish in the sea looks like when you are just meters or feet away from them, then you need to travel to Belize during this time of year. These gentle giants go about their business totally regardless of your presence.
They are filter feeders which makes them not at all dangerous to humans. And the food is the reason the whales make their journey here, to feed on the fish that spawn around March to June. There are great numbers of fish as a result of a healthy ecosystem.
Gladden spit is situated south of Belize. To make the trip, you will need to travel from Placencia, a coastal town found here, and will be swimming with the giant fishes in no time.
Globo Surf Overview
Belize is a magnet for dive enthusiasts because it harbors some of the best diving spots anywhere in the world. If you have been exploring some of the best corals in the world then your experience is not complete if you haven’t checked out what lies within the coastal waters of Belize.