If you’re a scuba enthusiast, the tiny country of Belize is undoubtedly on your list of places to dive. Whether you’re a beginner who’s interested in a shallow dive near shore, or a master diver ready to plunge into the Great Blue Hole, Belize has a diving experience that you’re sure to enjoy. www.travelrows.com
Belize is nestled between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea, and is home to the Belize Barrier Reef. Measuring 185 miles long, this reef is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. As you might imagine, the Reef is home to plenty of colorful fish and plant life that’s fascinating to see.
But while the Barrier Reef may be the star jewel in the Belize scuba diving crown, there are a number of other wonderful locations for diving in the country, including a number of offshore atolls and “cays” (keys). Amongst all these different environments, you’ll find a variety of locations for all divers, from beginners to advanced dive masters. Snorkeling, sail-boarding, sailing, fishing, boating and sea kayaking are also popular activities in Belize. Wildlife watchers will find a wealth of animals and birds in the mangrove cays.
For example, Ambergris Caye is a fringing reef with huge star coral that’s remarkable to see. Off of Ambergris Caye, you’ll find Mexico Rocks, a well-developed patch reef. Beginning divers will find that Hol Chan Marine Park is a wonderful place to “get their feet wet.” Laughing Bird Caye is a faroe, or ringed reef, while Gladden Split is known for its whale sharks, which – despite their size – are quite friendly. Lucky divers can see dolphins near Silky Caye, while others might enjoy exploring the fabulous wreck diving available in Belize.
Belize is also home to three coral atolls.The largest is Turneffe Islands, which has numerous mangrove cays. The southern tip of Turneffe is especially noted for its excellent diving. Glover’s Reef, on the other hand, is much smaller than Turneffe, but has well-defined reefs that divers are sure to enjoy. The last and smallest of the three atolls is Lighthouse Reef. In the southeastern portion of this reef, you’ll find Halfmoon Cay Natural Monument. Lightouse Reef is also home to the Blue Hole, a dormant underwater volcano that has collapsed in on itself, creating a stunning 400 foot deep cavern. In fact, Jacques Cousteau praised the sites that can be seen when diving the Great Blue Hole.
A number of shops in Belize offer dive tour packages, as well as instruction and certification programs. Scuba diving is a physically demanding pastime, so if you’ve never participated in Scuba diving before, you should begin to get in shape several months before your vacation. Generally, open water dives are required as part of the certification process, although you can begin the certification process before you leave for your vacation.
So that you aren’t overwhelmed by the many different diving experiences Belize has to offer, spend some time thinking about the kind of dive experience you want to have before planning your trip. Do you want to have a leisurely experience, or are you interested in something more challenging? How long will your vacation be and do you want to dive most days or leave some days for other pursuits? Once you know what you’re interested in, you’ll be able to plan your perfect scuba vacation in Belize.