Scuba diving Belize - one of my favorites. I’m told it’s the second largest barrier reef after Australia. Being that I’m Australian, I’m not afraid of saying I’ve dived both and put Belize on top. I consider Belize still “untouched.” The reef options are so many, the marine life so diverse and then there’s the famous blue hole.
One of my most favorite sightings in Belize has to be the regal spotted eagle ray who’s snout looks like a large smile. They’re beautiful creatures, particularly the way they glide across the ocean. Check out the eagle ray video below.
If you’re a scuba diver, or someone who’s a bit of daredevil – scuba diving Belize’s blue hole is your calling. This dive isn’t about marine life or reefs, but about rock formations. Huge stalagmites and the deep blue ocean provides for a great experience. One of the remarkable things about this experience is that you don’t realize how fast you go down, how deep it becomes and how little you can see.
The boat ride out to the blue hole can take some time depending on which Belize island you’re staying on. You’ll start early, around 7am - the earlier you are the better the light for the dive. The deeper you go, the harder it is to see. This will be a full day adventure and you’ll be on the boat for a while, so it’s important you select a dive shop with a decent sized boat for the trip.
If you’re planning multiple dives that day, you will start with the blue hole and have a rest stop in between. The deeper you go, the longer breaks you need in between for your body to get ready for the next dive.
Pointers for scuba diving Belize’s blue hole:
Feeling loopy– make sure your dive shop/instructors provide lessons on depth and what you may feel – like a little light headed. What to do if you feel you’re sinking and unable to float up even with adding air in BCD
Depth and darkness- You will definitely need a torch light, once you hit about 80-100 feet it’s difficult to see and your eyes have to adjust. For the best experience you need a good head light or torch
Resting intervals– don’t take them lightly; do your multiple 3/5 min rest stops
Quick tips for scuba diving Belize in night:
Location - good marine life is important for scuba diving at night. Coral isn’t exciting at night, you want to see things that move and light up. I’ve seen purple lobsters, different colored octopus and schools of green polka dotted squid.
Dive instructor – by it being night-time, spotting things that like to hide is much harder. You want a dive master who’s able to pick things out for you to see vs. someone who just gives you a guided tour. A handy way to know is to ask for exactly that at the dive shop. Don’t be shy, it’s your experience.
Fear – one thing I learned about scuba diving Belize’s marine park is that there’s little to fear in the ocean. Most marine life is more scared of you. It’s also likely wherever your scuba diving has been dived there before and their used to seeing humans.
Scuba Diving Belize in the Night
I must confess, I’ve always feared night dives, but I mustered the strength for my first night dive. It was in a marine park (a heritage enclosed space protecting the marine life that’s in it). Marine parks are additional money but it guarantees that you will see great fish life.
I geared up in my scuba diving outfit (I still consider it an outfit) as the sun was setting, on a small boat, ready with my torch for a back-flip dive into the ocean. Easy, a max depth of 35-40 feet, I did the blue hole at 145 feet a day ago, I’m a superstar with my flashlight.
Torch is on, first place I point – shark!! Fun-fact 99, sharks are attracted to light, and this beauty was coming right for me. I moved the light away instinctively, now I can’t see in front of me. Should I keep the light pointed at the shark and have it come at me or move the light away and have no idea where that shark is? Too late. I feel it gently slide under me. I survived a shark attack – check that off the bucket list.
So literally scared of nothing anymore I went on to see beautiful rays, sharks, lobsters, octopus and squid. What was also magical is how everything lights up in the ocean. Once on the surface and our torches turned off, your eyes adjust and little flickers of light in the ocean appear.
Hotels - Belize is still a little underdeveloped (at least Ambergris Caye was) – hotels aren’t like what you see in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. But there were good enough options, staying on the main beach side is a good idea for the beautiful sunsets.
Golf buggy – it was really to get around with one of these and often your hotel will price this into your scuba diving vacation package.
City center Town Hall – hosts some cute stores, bars and restaurants. Be sure to head to the little alley ways, as there’s cute restaurants with great food.
Dive shops – what I’ve learned about a lot of my dive vacations is that you may get the best-looking equipment from the top named dive shops with the big lights and international looking dive masters – but that doesn’t give you the best experience. I still prefer smaller local dive shops with dive masters who live in the area and have dived there for years.
Dive shop boats – If you’re like me who likes to do a lot of boat dives, the boat you have is integral. Particularly if you’re doing the blue hole which can take a while to get to. You want a dive crew that’s local, with their easy-going personalities, local drinks ;) and boats that give you space for the tan session you’ll have on the way to and from dive spots.
Island time – you will not leave on time for anything. Sit back and enjoy it, why are you so eager to get to anyway?
Diver options – scuba diving Belize’s beautiful waters will not disappoint. One place I recommend but did not get a chance to go was the Turneffe Atoll. As a diver, you could likely spend a few weeks and still not get through all that you want to see. I must have done 15-20 dives while here and still felt like I needed to see more.
Food – some people find it odd that I can wave and blow kisses at cute fish during the day and become a vampire at night – with those same cute fish. I love fish, and eating fish. Seafood all the way – don’t think twice. The food was safe, water should be bottled and alcohol in copious amounts
Dress code – island style. It’s warm at night time (December), humidity was bearable but you will sweat. It’s the reason you spend all your time on the ocean. Your tan will be glorious. Most importantly every picture will be postcard worthy and every snap will leave your friends jealous.