Diving In Belize: Best 5 Dive Sites

Belize is one of the smallest countries in Central America. This small tropical paradise is bordered on the north by Mexico and on the south and west by Guatemala. Eastern Belize has almost 300 kilometers of coastline in the Caribbean Sea and multiple atolls, islands, and islets that combine some of the best Caribbean diving sites. The name Belize means "the way to the sea", a meaning that is easy to understand given the beauty of its beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters.

Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, only after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The spectacular biodiversity found in this barrier reef system, along with its lagoons and atolls, offers divers a unique experience. For this reason, Belize is one of the favorite places for many diving enthusiasts around the world.

Where to Find the Best Diving in Belize?

The Belize Barrier Reef runs the entire length of the country and is accessible from most dive destinations. The Atolls and Cayes are the most popular diving stops, however, diving can still be done from the mainland if you’re planning on doing other activities.

Belize Facts Sheet

Belize Weather


Avg Temp:  29ºC/84ºF 
Avg Rainfall: 60in/1524mm

Belize Water 

Avg Temp: 27°C/81°F 

Currency

Belize Dollar
1.00 BZD = 0.50 USD

Language

English, Spanish, Belizean Creole

Time Zone

UTC-06:00

No Daylight Savings 

Electricity 

Electric Volts: 110V/220V
Plug Type: A,B,G

Ambergris Caye

Easily the most popular dive destination in Belize. It offers access to many of the best dive sites Belize has to offer including the Great Blue Hole, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and Lighthouse Reef Atoll.

Caye Caulker

This sleepy island town offers quick access to the Belize Barrier Reef as well as  easy access to Turneffe Atoll, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and the Blue Hole.

Belize City

Belize City offers mainland access to many popular dive sites like the Barrier Reef, the Blue Hole, as well as the Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef Atoll. 

The Atolls

The Atolls offer some of the best diving you will find in Belize. Because of there remote access, most of the dive sites are pristine and unnamed.

Placencia

Located in Southern Belize, Placencia has superb diving on the Southern Barrier Reef and is quickly becoming popular for its seasonal whale shark encounters.

Hopkins

Hopkins is also located on the southern coast of Belize. Here you can explore the  South Water Caye Marine Reserve, the largest marine reserve in Belize.

What are the Best Dive Sites in Belize?

Let’s now take a closer look at our top five Best Dive Sites in Belize. As mentioned before, Belize’s barrier reef system is made up of multiple lagoons, atolls, islands, and islets. The best-known atolls in the Belize region are the Turneffe Atoll, Lighthouse Reef and Glover’s Reef. Each one has several spectacular diving sites:

The Great Blue Hole: Lighthouse Atoll

The Lighthouse Atoll is one of the four true atolls outside the Indo-Pacific region. The Great Blue Hole is located in the center of the atoll lagoon. It is about 984 feet or 310 meters wide and falls 125 meters or about 410 feet. Stalactites and stalagmites can be found in the caves as you descend.

What can you expect to see?

The hole is circular and is so big that it can even be seen from outer space. Besides the novelty of diving in a big blue hole, the place has clear waters that allow seeing wonderful cave formations, and a variety of flora and fauna. At the Great Blue Hole, you can expect to see nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and bull sharks. The greatest beauty of this impressive diving site is the enormous stalactites and stalagmites that are found in the caves as you descend (at around 130 ft in depth). If you are the kind of diver who prefers colorful coral reefs diving, then this dive is not for you.

Dive Difficulty: Advanced

Half Moon Caye Wall: Lighthouse Atoll

Half Moon Caye is located at the southwest corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Diving enthusiasts have called it the most colorful wall dive in the world. It is also a historical national park and protected area. Its waters have been described as crystal clear. The depth range of this site is between 19-137 feet (6-42m) and wall drops to an undetermined depth.

What can you expect to see?

On the reef’s crest, we may find abundant formations of staghorn coral. Then, there is a steep drop to a platform about 15 feet (5M) deep. On this sandy platform, we will find numerous garden eels. The sandy platform slopes down to about 40-50 feet (14-15m) before one encounters another staghorn barrier reef.

The upper part of the reef wall is full of corals, sea fans, brain corals, groupers, angelfish, and butterflyfish; while the lower part is full of white-tipped sharks, jewelfish, and bull sharks. Occasionally you can see a few manta rays or stingrays on the sandy plains, as well as sea turtles.

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Dive Difficulty: Intermediate

Gladden Spit: Placencia

Placencia is a small and beautiful peninsula located in the south of Belize. This small peninsula is perfect for a diving trip as it is out of the tourist flow. It is the perfect paradise for nature lovers. Placencia has several interesting diving sites. Among them, we can find the Gladden Spit Marine Park. Garden Spit is the best place to dive in Placencia. It is often considered one of the best diving sites in the Caribbean as it is home to the gentle whale sharks.

What can you expect to see?

Gladden Spit is the spawning site of many different species of tropical fish, including the cubera, ram, and snapper that produce tons of spawning. This spawning is what attracts the whale shark to the Gladden spit. From March through June, divers and snorkelers have the opportunity to swim alongside these magnificent creatures. This is one of the most unforgettable experiences underwater as whale shark encounters rank near the top of any diving bucket list.

In order to avoid disturbing the migratory patterns of whale sharks, dive tours have been limited to 12 divers in the water no deeper than 80 feet (24 meters). Many resorts offer visitors a complete whale shark diving package that includes accommodations and a licensed expedition to where the whale sharks feed.

Dive Difficulty: Intermediate

Lighthouse Atoll: Long Caye Aquarium

One of the things that makes this place so special is the vast marine diversity that divers encounter from the first moment they jump into the water. The Long Caye Aquarium is named after its impressive marine life activity. The abundant marine life and richness of colors make this place one of the most popular among photographers.

What can you expect to see?

The reef has a table formation. This amazing scuba diving location possesses one of the greatest diversity of marine life, such as spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks, sea turtles, and barracudas. The descent is along a steep wall, which goes into the depths at a 90-degree angle. The wall continues deeper until there is nothing left to see but a dark blue abyss.

Dive Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley: Ambergris Caye


Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley is off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. This reserve consists of four zones:

• Zone A – the coral reef,
• Zone B – the turtle grass beds
• Zone C – the mangroves islands
• Zone D – Shark and Ray Alley

What can you expect to see?

At the coral reef, you snorkel around a small channel. It’s a shallow dive, with a max depth of 28ft. You are expected to see from turtles, nurse sharks, and spotted eagle rays to the green moray eels. At the Shark and Ray Alley divers have chances to see the nurse sharks, the southern stingrays, and the Caribbean stingrays.

Dive Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

How to Get to Belize?

By Air

You may travel to Belize by plane from any country around the world. A large number of reputable airlines fly to Belize. The only international airport in Belize is Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE).

By Land

Flying to Cancun is often cheaper than flying to Belize, so many travelers decide to fly to Cancun and then drive or take a bus to Belize. Cancun is about 369 km (230 miles) from the Belizean border.

By Sea

It is possible to enter Belize by boat from Guatemala or Honduras. Boats depart daily to Punta Gorda from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala and Puerto Cortes, Honduras. It is also possible to get to Belize by cruise ship.

There are several options available to move around the country. Visitors may either rent a car or taxi and move around different reefs and keys by boat. Belize also has a bus transportation system that will allow you to move around the different cities.

When is The Best Time to Visit?

  • Although the weather in Belize allows diving throughout the year, the high season is from November to April.
  • The whale shark season is from March to June. Most divers consider this the best time for a visit.
  • From August to October is the rainy or green season. During this season, the rain is not constant and rarely has consecutive days of rain. However, the sea can be rough and trips to remote areas can be canceled.
  • Although Belize is outside the hurricane region, it has a short hurricane season between August and October.

Scuba Diving Conditions

The visibility in the waters of Belize is constant throughout the year, approximately 30 meters or 100 feet. However, this can decrease when the north winds blow.

Currents are generally low and constant. The difficulty of diving in Belize is very variable. There are places with different degrees of difficulty.

Other Things to Do in Belize

Not everything in Belize has to be about scuba diving. Many other activities may be undertaken in Belize. There are many tours and activities available for the whole family to enjoy. All these tours are offered by professional tour guides who will make your experience safe and fun for everyone. Among some of these activities are:

  • Visits to Mayan archeological sites such as the Xunantunich Castle and Caracol Mayan Temple.
  • Tour to Barton Creek Cavern and Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, which according to Mayan culture was the gateway to Xibalbá, the Mayan underworld.
  • Enjoy cave tubing and canopy tours through the jungle and Mono River.
  • San Ignacio Falls. This tour takes you through the jungle of Belize. You can choose to walk to the falls or just relax in the boat.

 

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