There is a famous saying, “big things sometimes come in small packages.” When it comes to Belize, it is one of the best examples that prove the saying mentioned above. Belize is pretty much famous among divers. Want to know the reason behind it? Due to the world’s most huge blue hole. Not only that, but the diving scene also features eye-catching coral reefs as well as marine life-like whale shark adventures.
When considering the location, Belize locates between the two countries, Mexico and Guatemala. It is one of the unique destinations for divers. On the other hand, it is pretty worth visiting Belize for anyone who loves exploration, relaxation, or romance.
Belize comprises more than 400 islands; not only that but also this country consists of white sandy beaches and the longest unbroken barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Do not forget that Belize has a coastline that is 298 kilometers/185 miles lengthwise.
All these reasons are behind Belize being a world-class scuba diving destination.
So, most divers wish to go for Belize scuba diving. There is much more to discover in scuba diving; the Blue Hole is Belize’s best-known dive site. Belize’s waters are rich, clear, and warm and offer excellent beginners and exciting diving for the more advanced diver. And more here, most dive sites are less crowded than other locations offering a similar standard of diving.
What is the best time to go diving in Belize?
You can try out a scuba dive in Belize anytime.
It has subtropical weather means it is warm year-round, particularly along the beach coast. August to October is the wet season. March to December is considered to have optimal conditions and marine life. A brisk sea wind tempers the heat a bit during the summer season. In summer, air temperatures range from about 24-29°C/75-85°F. In winter, it is more relaxed, with a daily low of about 21°C/70°F and a daily high of almost 27°C/80°F. The shallow water is pleasantly warm during the summer at 30°C/85°F and a comfortable 26°C/79°F in winter.
August to October
From August to October, the wet season falls.
These months are the warmest period, with average temperatures around 82 or 84°F (28 or 29°C). Although it is the wet season, it also offers the best surface conditions. It ensures that all sites are accessible for diving.
While prevalent during these months, rainfall can only enjoy a few hours of the day in this season. So that most of the day will be sunny rather than rainy. Not only that, but also the visibility may decrease due to runoff from nearby rivers.
The time duration from October to November is known as the grouper mating season.
Want to know the reason behind it?
Thousands of fish species descend on the cayes for the mating purpose to give birth to their young.
August to October is considered the low season for the tourism industry and diving in Belize. Generally, diving is only slightly impacted by the rain. Most people think that this period is the best time to dive into Belize. But there are few crowds and the best deals during these months.
November to July
The diving period of the two seasons is from November to July. In these months, we can experience slightly cooler temperatures above and below the water. The temperatures will only drop by a couple of degrees. And there, most divers are still comfortable in a shorty. At this time, surface conditions can become choppy, creating limited access to the more exposed sites. Accordingly, from November to July, we can say that there is no rain and excellent visibility.
The ideal time to dive in Belize is from April to June. It is also the high season, so be prepared to see crowds at the Blue Hole and your diving experience. April to June is known as the whale shark season in Placencia.
Where to Stay in Belize?
Belize is a tiny country, and it is situated in Central America between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west. Then to the south, and then the Caribbean Sea to the east. It is easily navigable by a vehicle spanning just 174 miles north to south, with its widest point 68 miles long.
Apart from its small geographic footprint, Belize offers one of the world’s largest coral reef systems. The Belize Barrier Reef can be second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It runs at 190 miles long, and the Belize Barrier Reef is longer than the country itself. Belize Barrier Reef is even designated as a world heritage site also.
Apart from its beautiful diving opportunities, Belize also offers foreigners a chance to explore cultural heritage sites and natural wonders. Visitors can explore the various Mayan ruins, for example, Xunantunich, Cahel Pech, Caracol, and the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. Natural Geographic named this Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave as the one sacred cave in the world.
If you are looking for a place where you can experience some of the world’s best diving with unique mainland activities, Belize is the best place for that.
The world-famous Belize Barrier Reef
Belize Barrier Reef continuously ranks as one of the best scuba diving locations in the world. It is located just off the mainland of Belize, and the reef offers an excellent variety of dive sites.
The Belize Barrier Reef is 190 miles in length. It is a part of the more extensive Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, and which spans 560 miles. This reef is also the world’s largest double barrier reef, where one barrier reef is formed outside of an existing one. There are only 6 of these kinds of reefs in the world. This consists of 400 cayes, three atolls with Lighthouse, Glovers, Turneffe, and seven critical marine reserve zones. The Belize Barrier Reef was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The reef is a habitat to more than 500 species of fish and 100 species of coral throughout the marine reef system.
Not only that, it is a habitat to The Great Blue Hole, and it is a dream dive site for many scuba divers. It makes one excellent place to dive into and see from above when it comes to 1,043 feet wide and 407 feet deep.
Best Time for Diving in Belize
Belize has a tropical climate around 75 to 81° F / 24 – 27° C, with consistently warm temperatures all year round as there are just two main seasons, wet and dry. The wet season goes from June to November. The dry season falls from December to May.
Most diving experts recommend visiting Belize during the dry season. You can enjoy less rain, but there are no troubles as you get no rain and the overcast conditions that can impact underwater visibility.
Having a clear sky and sunlight will fall shining brighten up the coral and marine life, and that would surely enhance your diving experience.
Belize is an excellent place for dive training. The Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water, and Drift diver are the most common courses. Generally, most systems are offered there.
Belize Scuba Diving
Belize scuba diving is known to be some of the best diving in the world. It can be the variety of coral life or the diversity of marine life you are eagerly looking for. You can cover all these by diving in Belize.
Belize Scuba Diving conditions are varied with the difference in visibility or water temperature. June until October can bring rough sea conditions, and it can make the trip to the Blue Hole and other remote locations are doubtable.
Snorkeling in Belize
There are a lot of diving sites that are suitable for snorkelers. Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley are among the best snorkeling sites that allow interaction with rays and sharks, and most of the resorts provide house reefs with snorkeling sites.
Belize Diving Tip with whale sharks
Whale sharks make their migration right off the coast of Placencia in the March to June period. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can catch up with the full package by diving into Belize.
Best Dive Sites in Belize
There are numerous dive sites in Belize. There is a unique site to explore every 5 minutes when you are riding on a boat. Below are some of the fascinating dive sites in Belize.
Diving in Belize- The Belize Barrier Reef
Although you are a beginner or an experienced diver, you will surely remember the Belize scuba diving experience. Most of the dives are boat dives, and they leave either Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, or Placencia heading for the local barrier reef.
The Belize Barrier Reef consists of an impressive variety of corals stretching along 186 miles / 300km off the coast of Belize. Belize Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living barrier reef, and it was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
Scuba diving in The Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole of Belize is also an excellent diving site in Belize. Diving experience in Belize would not be complete without diving at this underwater spectacle here.
The Great Blue Hole is a giant marine sinkhole. It is located near Lighthouse Reef, around 70km from the mainland. It is 3 hours by boat, and it stretches 1030 ft / 314m across and descends to a depth of 442 ft / 135m.
This is the most famous marine sinkhole in the world, and Jacques Cousteau popularized this phenomenal destination back in 1971.
And also, this is located on one of the four true atolls outside the Indo-Pacific Region.
Belize’s sinkhole is circular with steep-walled depressions showcasing a dramatic contrast of dark blue deep waters. And it also consists of the turquoise of the shallow reefs around. You can see blacktip reef sharks circling the reefs around the shallow water around the sinkhole, hunting for reef fish. There is no current and makes it possible to see rare bacteria and particles that you do not usually see on regular dives due to minimal water circulation.
So, there is not as much fish as you would expect to see on coral reefs. But divers love this kind of experience as the closest thing to being in space. Scuba diving the great blue hole is a fantastic underwater topography diving experience, and also, it is a life-enhancing experience in its own right. Without this dive, no diver’s bucket list is complete.
Half Moon Caye Island
Generally, most divers head over this is the next dive site after diving their first scuba diving at the Great Blue Hole. The Half Moon Caye is one of the most beautiful islands that would visit Belize. Pearly white sand and long palm trees offer a perfect sanctuary for a small break after the Blue Hole dive. The island’s marine environment features some of the most beautiful and fascinating marine fauna and flora in the world. The visibility is easily over 20 meters and with the exact days providing ample sunlight and color to a depth of 30m. Half Moon Caye is famous as a bird sanctuary. This is an excellent place for a surface interval and mini-hike to explore the island. And also, this is rich with incredibly vibrant coral.
It is better to start your dive with a descent to 42 ft / 13m. So that you can experience a colorful array of angelfish, butterflyfish and wrasse will greet you. The coral reef wall drops down to 98 ft/ 30m, and from there, you will see hidden tunnels filled with, and there are yellow and bright blue sponges, barrel sponges, challenging coral coverages, impressive lilac sea fans, and reef fish hiding among the reef structures. It is common to be followed by nosy goliath groupers and garden eels poking their heads out from the sandy bottom. And also, blacktip reef sharks patrol the reef walls, and those hawksbill turtles use the reef to source food and rest.
Glover’s Atoll is known as the center of the Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve. It was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1993. Atoll’s relative isolation and the clarity of the surrounding oceanic waters have established the coral at depths, reaching down to 300 ft / 91m. Glover’s Atoll has over 700 patch reefs surrounding the central lagoons with six privately-owned cayes, including a Wildlife Conservation Society research station and accommodation options on others. The water visibility remains clear year-round, and it is due to the minimum sedimentation or pollution coming from the coast.
There is an incredible range of marine life there.
Manta Rays are one of the significant for divers on any dive at Glover’s Atoll. These giants can have a wingspan of almost 30ft / 9m and glide without taking much effort through the blue water. Some of the everyday things you will spot on these dives are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, green sea turtles, Eagle rays, and blacktip reef sharks. When observing, you will be able to find out in your dives fantastically colored tube sponges, sea fans, staghorn coral, soft coral, massive gorgonian fans, all surrounded by healthy populations of reef fish.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is just off the coast of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Hol Chan is Mayan for a narrow channel. It is the passage to the outer edge of the Belize Barrier Reef. It is the place where all boats need to pass to avoid hitting coral. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve fisheries department implemented and enforced strict guidelines and rules for boaters to protect this beautiful area Since its designation in 1987. And there are some regulations like boats are not allowed to anchor, visitors must not touch coral. And also, there is no fishing permitted in this area. The above-mentioned protected area encompasses almost 5 square miles and is a habitat to a thriving marine ecosystem. Here, strong currents are prevalent and also relatively shallow dives, and that is snorkel friendly.
Among the colorful coral reefs, there are hundreds of bar jacks schooling, massive grouper swimming around, snapper, reef fish hiding in the coral, as well as barracuda. Manatees are commonly sighted swimming in the marine waters around the reserve during the wet season.
There are four true Atolls in the world, and three of them are found in the waters off Belize. It provides divers with outstanding diving opportunities. An Atoll is a circular version of a coral barrier reef, and it has a coral rim that would encircle a lagoon fully or partially. These are built from volcanic activity and attract a massive range of marine species. In Belize, Lighthouse, Turneffe, and Glovers are the meccas of diving as far as Atoll’s go. It offers unique aquatic experiences. One of the most significant benefits to these atolls is that the reef’s depths typically drop almost to 3000 ft / 914 m.
These considerable depths draw a massive population of megafauna framed by stunning vertical walls. Turneffe is Belize’s newest protected marine area stretching 30 miles in length. It is 10 miles in width, with every part a prime destination for diving and snorkeling.
Here a unique marine environment is provided by the Atoll and spectacular wall-dives that attract deep-sea megafauna. And also, the range of coral canyons and swim-throughs covered in pristine coral gardens.
The exquisite wide range of corals growing among the enormous topography of crevasses, swim-throughs, and arches provides more exploration for divers. The size of this Atoll means that although you travel and stay on the Atoll, you will discover more things in a new dive site with spectacular creatures the next day of diving. Some of the ordinary marine life seen here are sea turtles, reef sharks, reef fish.
The South Water Caye Marine Reserve
The South Water Caye Marine Reserve is one of the largest marine reserves in Belize, and it is located near the southern border with Guatemala. It is just 10 miles / 16km off the coast of Belize and covers 7 miles / 12km of the barrier reef. Several spectacular wall dives are boasting this mind-blowing marine biodiversity. By covering 47,700 hectares of coastal and mangrove ecosystems, it gained protected status in 1996.
This whole area now has thousands of species, some of which are endemic to this part of the world. Here it stretches up to 7 miles of the marine reserve with beautiful reefs and marine animals. Pelagic fish are found here with significant numbers on the outer walls. You will be able to swim with Whale Sharks during the right time of year.
The range of spectacular wall dives will allow divers to test their photography skills on several macro creatures hiding in the colorful coral. Divers can also look for reef and silky sharks, schools of tuna, barracuda, and stingrays. The deeper areas of here attract various kinds of fish, allowing advanced divers the chance to see the full range of life this spot offers.
It is about a 30 minutes boat ride from San Pedro to the Esmeralda Canyons dive site. The main fascinating thing here is the coral canyons that divers can swim between and through it. This diving site provides a vast dive experience where moray eels hide in the canyons’ crevices amongst the gorgonians and anemones. It consists of coral Canyons with swim-throughs. Divers can get a Multi-level diving experience here.
You can enjoy a very picturesque dive here. This site is a habitat for numerous marine life, such as various parrotfish, butterflyfish, and damselfish that protect their territories by chasing each other around. A lot of Caribbean reef fish, black groupers, eels, and nurse sharks can find here.
Apart from these, there are spots for divers to check like The Gladden Spit, Shark Ray Alley, Esmeralda Canyons dive site, Spanish Bay, Long Caye, and many more.
Diving any of these mentioned dive sites in Belize will give an insight into how healthy, and vibrant coral reefs can be. The various number of marine parks and stringent regulations have allowed marine reserves to flourish. And also, the biodiversity here remains high and thriving. Every diver should go to this place and dive at least once to enjoy the underwater world’s beauty. That is because it would be one of the luckiest and incredible sceneries in the world that one should see in a lifetime.