In Belize’s extraordinarily clear waters of the reef lives an amazing world of colorful limestone corals and incredible variety of fish and sea mammals. Coral cleaning Rainbow Parrotfish; bashful and brightly colored angel fish; territorial barracuda; lazy nurse sharks; inquisitive Nassau grouper; school of blue stripped grunt; and the ever graceful stingrays, eagle rays and manta rays are often seen. Bottle nosed dolphins, manatee, and sea turtles can also be seen by divers and snorkelers. The resplendent underwater scenery attracts divers from around the globe to enjoy the multicolor scenery. Consider the following and you’ll understand why Belize is one of the most popular dive destinations – The Belize Barrier Reef, three magnificent atolls, 70 types of hard corals, nearly 500 species of fish and the celebrated Blue Hole.
In terms of diversity, diving far exceeds most destinations. Divers encounter marine life of all shapes, sizes and species. Subterranean gardens, coral jungles, and encounters with dolphins, morays, turtles, graceful eagle rays and migrating whale sharks, make dive trips irresistible. Southern Belize harbors whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea, during their migrations in the off-shore area often spotted in the Gladden Spit from March to June. During these months the gentle giants of the ocean migrate to these corners of the world less than one hour boat ride from Placencia to feed on the spawn during full moon especially from mutton, cubera and dog snappers.
The reef parallels the coast for approximately 185 miles. Like an underwater range of mountains, some peaks rise to the surface. This uneven range is blessed with almost every type of coral known. Hugging the eastern shore of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, the reef then snakes its way down through open water past Dangriga, Hopkins, Placencia, and north of Punta Gorda. Because of its size, the Belize BarrierReef Reserve System has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site. Lighthouse Reef Atoll encircles the celebrated Blue Hole, a 1,000-foot circular sinkhole 410 feet deep. Explorer Jacques Cousteau called it “one of the four must-dive locations on this blue planet.” All three atolls – Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, and Glover’s Reef – harbor more than 100 great dive and snorkeling sites.
In the shallows between mainland and the reef, boats reach hundreds of dive sites in a short time, including tiny islands. Coral patterns and patches decorate the sand like gardens in a yard. Outside the ridge, the reef slopes and reveals shallow corals and gorgonians.
Scuba divers need certification, but no such requirement applies to snorkelers, who can jump right in and witness the spectacle. Protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve, between Ambergris and Caye Caulker, makes a popular spot both for snorkeling and for learning how to dive. Beginners enjoy South Water Caye and Glover’s Reef Atoll because they offer beautiful sea life with minimal currents.
Scout as many dive and snorkel sites as possible, because no two are alike. Vibrant fish and fragile coral still thrive at these sites because visitors help to protect them. It is critical not to touch, bump, or kick sand on the reefs, because doing so could destroy them. Call Splash Dive Center today and book your favorite whale shark tour or any combination of dive package available.