Belize is often spoken of as one of the best diving destinations in the world, and for good reason. Its barrier reef, running the length of the entire coastline, is surpassed only by the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Its territorial waters are also home to most of the few atolls that are present in the Western Hemisphere. What makes it truly special, however, is that the dive sites cover a range of difficulty levels. Novices and veterans alike will find outstanding dive sites in Belize.
The Great Blue Hole
Part of the outstanding Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole of Belize is internationally famous. No less than Jacques Cousteau himself declared it one of the best diving sites in the world. The hole is the product of a collapsed cave system. It is nearly circular, almost a quarter mile across and roughly 460 feet deep. The sheltered conditions create a staggering average visibility of 200 feet, making the waters of the hole among the most predictably clear in the world. Being inside the hole, with its stalactites and stalagmites, is much like being inside a well-lit underwater cave. There are still cave tunnels running off the main hole for cave divers to explore, and while sea life is minimal near the surface, hammerhead and black tip sharks inhabit the deeper reaches.
One of the problems frequently encountered by novice divers is that their depth limitations (60 feet for Open Water certification) limit their opportunities to see big fish. That is not a problem at Shark-Ray Alley, located off Ambergris Caye. The area is a magnet for rays and 6-foot nurse sharks (who are gentle and harmless to approach). At a maximum of 30 feet deep, it is a site that can be enjoyed by snorkelers. A novice scuba diver can settle on the bottom and spend as much as an hour watching the big fish pass by and enjoying the colorful corals.
Glover's Reef Atoll
This is the most isolated of Belize's diving destinations and therefore the one where you are most likely to be sharing a dive site with a relatively small group of people. The atoll is surrounded by a superb wall, and the local sea life boasts everything from sea turtles to manta rays. There are also plenty of sharks, but one should beware because not all of them are of the safe variety. One the one hand, there are black tip reef and nurse sharks, but sometimes the gentle giant whale shark also is seen in the area. In the middle are the hammerheads, and on the dangerous side tigers and bulls are sometimes seen around Glover's Reef. It's a great marine experience but not for those who scare easily.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.