The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reef runs 190 spectacular miles from north to south. Three coral ringed atolls and hundreds of patch coral contribute another 220 miles of reef to explore from above or below the surface. The reef and surrounding pristine marine environment are magnets for aquatic life and play host to a huge variety of species, including the docile whale shark, the gentle giant of the sea.
Diving and snorkeling in Belize are incredibly satisfying along the entire coastline. The Barrier Reef protrudes through the surface of the sea, offering snorkelers close proximity to this colorful world. Hol Chan Marine Park and Shark Ray Alley off Ambergris Caye are well suited for divers and snorkelers. Numerous dive sites dot the length and breadth of the reef. The topography includes caverns, caves, sheer drop offs, sink holes and tunnels. The world famous Blue Hole, a unique geological sink hole 400 feet deep and one thousand feet in diameter, was explored by Jacques Cousteau. Snorkel and dive trips to the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye at Lighthouse Atoll depart from San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Belize City.
Serious divers should consider staying at one of the remote lodges on the outer atolls dedicated to divers and anglers. These lodges are in close proximity to the best dive sites in the hemisphere. These lodges offer three, four and seven night packages which include three boat dives per day. Divers who want a variety of activities and an assortment of restaurants, bars and people should base on the Ambergris, Caye Caulker, Belize City, Hopkins-Sittee River or Placencia.
Some areas offer night snorkeling and diving. The undersea world is stunning at night and the visibility is clear enough that at times, you can see the stars above while diving eighty feet below. Our marine environment is healthy and supports a wide range of species, including turtles, dolphins, manatees, rays, lobsters, sharks, eels and more.
Perhaps the most remarkable is the behemoth whale shark, which at forty five plus feet, is the largest fish in the sea. These docile creatures congregate off the Placencia coast in large numbers March through June, within three days either side of the full moon. You can book a snorkel or dive trip to the area and have a very good chance of seeing them.
The shops offer a wide range of PADI and NAUI courses. Non divers may want to consider Discover Diving, which consists of a few hours of basic theory followed by a dive. The open water certification course takes three and a half days and will require a good deal of studying and memorization. You could however, begin your pool and classroom work at home and complete the dive portion in Belize. That is called an open water referral.
Belize has wonderful kayaking on jungle rivers and on the sea. Itís a great way to explore both environments. We can arrange for multi-day trips with camping or at a base camp.
I am an avid diver, snorkeler and kayaker and will be happy to answer all your questions. Contact me for more specific information.
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