Belize

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(7 REVIEWS)
Diving Belize
Belize scuba diving
Belize Diving

Scuba Diving in Belize 

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Check here for the latest travel advisory to Belize in the light of the current coronavirus outbreak.

Belize diving highlights

Belize diving is varied enough to please everyone from novices to seasoned divers. You’ll find an abundance of coral gardens, sponges, reef sharks, rays, and small reef fish. The best diving in Belize is found on the surrounding cayes, and no dive trip to Belize would be complete without a visit to the Blue Hole, or at least Jacques Cousteau thought so! 

Another thing that makes Belize a great scuba diving destination is its wide array of topside activities, including rainforest walks, cave exploring, visiting Mayan temples, bird watching, and snorkeling for travel partners who do not dive. Belize is also known as one of the few places in the world where you can scuba dive, not just snorkel, with whale sharks. All this makes Belize a great destination choice for a scuba diving vacation. 

Interested in diving Belize?  View the live availability of some of the best liveaboards in Belize and book online at the best price or check out our sidebar for land-based options! 

Looking for more options? Check out our Best Diving in the Caribbean article!

Jump to:

Marine Life & Environment - Best Dive Sites - Diving Conditions

How to Get There - How to Dive Belize - Best Time to Dive

Practical Information - Book a Trip

Interested in diving Belize?

View availability of some of the best liveaboards in Belize or see our selection of dive resorts in Belize and book at the best price!

 

Intro to Belize Diving

Scuba diving in Belize is very colorful as part of the second largest barrier reef stretches out all the way to Belize. All the colorful sponges and Caribbean fish are effortlessly enjoyable as diving in Belize is relatively easy. Most dives are characteristic of easy Caribbean diving, with deeper reefs at 80-100ft, and shallow reefs at 20-40ft. Unlike diving in Cozumel, there is very little drift diving, and shore diving is almost unheard of due to the fringing reef. It is great for beginner divers but also offers some exciting dive sites for more advanced scuba divers. 

Belize is one of the best liveaboard destinations in the world. Check out the full list here.

 

Diving the Belize Barrier Reef

One of the best dive sites in the Caribbean, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest of its kind in the world, and home to some spectacular diving. The reef's 400 cayes, 3 atolls, and 7 marine reserve areas make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches over 190 miles in length. The world-famous Great Blue Hole, a huge marine sinkhole in Lighthouse Atoll, attracts divers from around the globe and is a bucket-list dive.

Check out diving on the world's largest barrier reef - Great Barrier Reef Liveaboards.

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Belize diving Information 

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Marine Life & Photography Subjects

In Belize, you’ll see commonly found Caribbean sea life, including nurse sharks, eagle rays, toadfish, barracudas, grouper, slipper lobsters, and toadfish.

Other common sightings include jawfish, eels, trumpetfish, turtles, tarpon, schools of jacks, and flamingo tongue cowrie.

You can dive with whale sharks in Belize if you visit during the right time. The few days before and sometimes after the full moons of April and May are the best times for spotting whale sharks. They pass through the Gladden Spit off the coast of Placencia, so you'll have to make a trip down there to have a chance of seeing them.

The only dive site in Belize, where you cannot see much marine life, is the famous Blue Hole. Due to the depth, limited sunlight and the sheer walls, fish are not so attracted to make it their home. Some shark species can still be spotted there. 

See photos of the marine life in Belize on our sister website, the Underwater Photography Guide.

This great clip shows some Belize marine life, you can see a barracuda at 2:25, grouper at 3:12, turtle at 3:25, nurse shark at 4:07, tarpon at 4:16, squid at 4:53, octopus at 5:30, toadfish at 9:08, eagle rays at 9:18

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperatures: Range in high 70s from December to April and the low 80s from May to November.
  • Visibility: Generally very good, 40-80ft.
  • Depth Range: 16 - >131 ft (5 - >40m)

 

Belize best dive spots

Here are some of the best and top dive sites and areas in Belize! Pick a dive site or read the entire list:

1. The Blue Hole

2. Half Moon Caye 

3. Ambergris Caye

4. Turneffe Atoll

5. Hol Chan Marine Reserve

6. Placencia


1. The Blue Hole: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is over 400ft deep and 1,000ft wide. There's not a whole lot to see at the Blue Hole in Belize, other than a large blue hole and some really cool stalactites. It requires quite a long boat ride to get to and some divers find the dive to be boring. Some people enjoy the Blue Hole simply because of the depth - 140ft, and they may be suffering from narcosis. In the hole you will hit a thermocline, dropping temperatures to around 75-77 degrees, but the change is so sudden that it will feel much colder. At 140ft depth, there are some undercuts, stalactites, and a few fish.


2. Half Moon Caye: You’ll likely stop here for lunch after you dive the Blue Hole. Half Moon Caye is a small tropical island home to many bird species, including the red-footed booby. Even if you are not a bird watcher, you’ll love the white sandy beaches and warm shallow water surrounding the caye. There’s even an opportunity for some great snorkeling right near the dock where the boats park. The Half Moon Caye Wall is one of the most popular dive sites here with a huge drop-off and lots of sharks to see.


3. Ambergris Caye: This area is close to San Pedro, encompasses the northern reefs of Belize, and is home to many resorts and good nightlife. If you want to do a lot of going out in the evening or other top-side activities, this is the area to stay. There is a lot of good diving here, and you can also do some longer full-day dive trips to the Turneffe atoll area. When diving the Ambergis Caye, you can find a large variety of marine life and fish species that cannot be found elsewhere in Belize. One of the top dive sites in Ambergris Caye is the Shark Ray Alley, where you can enjoy diving with different sharks and rays.


4. Turneffe Atoll: This is one of the better (if not the best) dive areas in Belize. Turneffe Atoll is a large offshore atoll reef with a wide variety of dive sites. The white-spotted toadfish, eagle rays, tarpon, green morays, groupers, nurse sharks, jacks, snappers, and reef sharks can all be seen here if you are lucky enough. The Elbow is one of the best dive sites at Turneffe Atoll, along with the Lighthouse Reef.


5. Hol Chan Marine Reserve: Hol Chan is Belize’s first and oldest marine reserve. There are four zones to the reserve - The Reef, The Mangroves, Shark Ray Alley, and The Seagrass Beds. The Reef is a great site for night diving. You’ll see plenty of stingrays, spotted lobster, sleeping parrotfish, hermit crabs and tons of moray eels out hunting.


6. Placencia: Placencia in southern Belize offers far less crowds than the Ambergris Caye area, along with some great topside wildlife areas. It is also close to many great Mayan ruins. This is also where Gladden Spit is located, where you have a chance to see a whale shark.

 

 

 

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Belize Travel Information 

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How to Get to Belize

But where is Belize and how to get there? Situated in the Caribbean Sea and south of the Yucatan Peninsula, with Mexico and Guatemala as the neighboring countries, Belize is relatively easy to access.

From the U.S.: Luckily, there are direct flights to Belize (BZE) from major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Charlotte.  

If you're coming from outside the United States, you'd likely have to make a stop in a city in the U.S.

How to get to Ambergris Caye: Once at Belize city, there are two ways to get to Ambergris Caye. One involves taking a small propeller plane and the second way is to go via a water taxi.

We recommend taking the 15-minute flight for both the time savings and the unique opportunity to see the reef from above. Maya Island Air and Tropic Air both run flights every hour from Belize City International Airport to San Pedro Ambergris Caye.

The water taxi/boat ride takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours depending on whether the boat makes any stops along the way. Tickets can be purchased on the north side of the river at the Maritime Museum located at the foot of the Belize Swing Bridge in Belize City. 

How to Dive Belize

In Belize, you can stay at a land-based dive resort or take a liveaboard. The reef covers a large area so liveaboards will cover a wider range of dive sites, and potentially see more marine life than people not staying on Turneffe Island. The advantage of staying at a resort is that you can do a lot more activities than just dive, and potentially still get to the great sites (depending on the resort).

View all liveaboards in Belize or dive resorts in Belize or contact Bluewater Travel for the best options!  

New to liveaboard diving? Check out this article.

Best Time to Dive Belize

Belize diving conditions are generally good year-round with nice visibility and warm waters. April and May might be your best bet for all-around favorable conditions, with fewer tourists and the opportunity to see whale sharks. April to June offers the best visibility, November to April is the dry season, which also means it’s high tourist season, and June to October is the rainy season.

Things to Do in Belize 

An endless list of things to do await to fill up your time when you're not diving in Belize: 

1. Visit ancient Mayan Ruins - include Lamanai, Xunantunich, Altun Ha, and Cahal Pech.

2. Caving - Whether by foot or inner tube, a tour within the Caves Branch System and is a good starting point for your Belize cave explorations.

3. Enjoy the scenic drive through the countryside - Belize City aside, this little country is blessed with a beautiful rainforest pretty. 

4. Explore Ambergris Caye - This area hosts a lively nightlife scene. You can also find a good number of shops and restaurants. 

5. Wildlife and birdwatching - Belize has amazing wildlife. Bird watching is very popular, especially for species like the macaw, toucan, motmot, boobies, and storks. Animals include howler monkeys, sloths, lizards, armadillos, peccaries and the rarely seen but omnipresent jaguar & tapir.

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Belize Liveaboards

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

Covering approximately 8,800 square miles with a population of less than 350,000, Belize is the most sparsely populated country in Central America. It’s relatively cheap and easy to get to from the US, their currency is pegged to US dollar (2:1), and English is the native language - all factors that make it a popular choice for American travelers. 

  • Currency: Belize Dollar (BZD)
  • Language: English is the official language of Belize
  • Main Airport Code: BZE
  • Time Zone: UTC-6
  • Electricity: 110 / 220 V 60 Hz

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Reviews (7)

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Belize was my last dive trip before the Pandemic. 4 of us traveled to Belize for 5 days of diving. We stayed in a small hotel about .5 mile from the water. We chose that for $$ reasons of course but the hotel was clean, had a pool, and there was a food "cart" right next to us so Breakfast was easy.

Diving was good. We got hit with some issues. One of us got a stomach bug so he missed a day of diving and then he gave that to me so I missed the next day of diving. The following day we got skunked by the weather. The waves on the other side of the breaker were huge so no dive operators went out.

Wildlife was good, it wasn't EXCITING, but any day diving in a humdrum tropical paradise beats working any day. We got skunked on our Manatee search but overall the diving was good. Topside there are dozens upon dozens of places to eat, drink and be merry. There are some interesting things to do such as the World Famous Chicken Drop. Some say it shouldn't be missed. I am not part of those someones but to each their own.

If you like Caribbean sharks, turtles and warm water this is a good place to hang your hat for a week or 2.

Visited on 02/2020 - Submitted on 03/22/2021
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In January 2020 I traveled to Hopkins, Belize to provide formal Free Dive training to a pod of local spearfisherman/freedivers.

It takes a boat ride to get out to the reef, but it is one of the most spectacular underwater environments in the world. She sheer scale of the barrier reef, right there on the edge of very very deep blue water, is as awe-inspiring as it is rich with underwater life.
The weather was unusually rough while I was there yet, even with sometimes extremely large waves, the visibility was over 100 feet.

Another highlight for me was a small blue hole the local guys had discovered. None of them wanted to go in it so, naturally, I had to :) It was extremely creepy because it went from being a hole about 30 feet across at 35 feet to a relatively narrow crevice at about 70 feet, then another one at 90. The lighting was such that you couldn't see what was beyond each crevice until you were in it. Really fun, and a nearly perfect place for training.

Visited on 01/2020 - Submitted on 03/12/2021
  • Top Reviewer
Fountain Valley, CA
United States
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4

I have traveled to Belize twice. The first time was to Ambergris Caye. The trip required a short flight from the international gateway of Belize City to San Pedro, the main town, where you can find many great restaurants, shops, bars, and dive operators. We stayed in a private villa, toward the south end of the island, that was oceanfront and had a 100 foot dock. The dive operator I used picked me up here every morning. Accommodations include rental houses, hotels, and resort. We traveled here with several non-divers and they enjoyed themselves very much. Travel around the island is basically by golf cart. See if you can watch the feeding of the saltwater crocodile toward the south end and join in at the “Chicken Drop" in town. I did local diving in Belize around Ambergris Caye and also long range boat diving to the Great Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef. The Great Blue Hole is a fascinating bucket list dive. See stalactites and sharks, and prepare for a dive to about 130 feet. The dives at Lighthouse Reef were on spectacular, pristine reefs. This was my favorite area to scuba dive.
My second trip was to St. George’s Caye, a small private island accessed by a short boat ride from Belize City. The island has one resort that is all inclusive. This is truely an island getaway destination. We did local diving and trips to Turneffe Atoll. Other guests were non divers and some honeymooners and they said they were very pleased with their stay.
Overall, I found the scuba diving in Belize to be excellent, the food delicious, the people very friendly, and the culture to be diverse and interesting. When you visit, be sure to taste and take home some of my favorite hot sauce, Belize's famous Marie Sharp's Hot Sauce.

Visited on 11/2018 - Submitted on 02/26/2020
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I went to Belize this past Holiday season. I went to Ambergris Caye and San Ignacio. The people of Belize are extremely nice. It is one of the friendliest countries I have ever been too. It is really easy to visit because everyone speaks English and Spanish. It was really easy to get around Ambergris Caye. The little downtown area is very walkable. There is a lot to see considering it is such a small town. I went diving with Amigos Del Mar. They were excellent. I thought the diving was phenomenal. The food and lodging is pretty reasonable as long as you don't eat at the resorts. The activities are a bit expensive. Diving in Belize is a little pricey, especially for the long day trips so be prepared for that in your budget. The interior of the country, "the jungle", is just beautiful. I saw lots of beautiful birds and monkeys. I really recommend the Belize Zoo also.

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 03/01/2014
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I visited Belize for work in January 2014, and was able to tack on a weekend of diving at the beginning just for fun. I was staying on Caye Caulker, a fun little island just a short plane flight or boat ride away from Belize City. This spot was a great getaway from the city, and is the epitome of "no shirt, no shoes, no problem." The island has a nice mixture of backpackers, expats, and locals - I think just about anyone would fit in here. As far as topside activities, I would highly recommend Caribbean Colors Arts Cafe for great breakfast and also great local art.

I was able to do one day of diving in Belize, where we went to Esmeraldas and the Tackle Box, two sites located in front of Ambergris Caye and part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (about a 45 minute boat ride from Caye Caulker). Visibility was decent (70+ feet), although the water temp was colder than expected - I was very cold at the end of both dives while wearing a 3mm shorty. The dives were quite nice though, with several sitings of nurse sharks, sea turtles, morray eels, goliath groupers, trumpetfish, etc. I did not see a whole lot of small guys for the macro underwater photographer, but that may have been a function of my dive guide who was moving much too quickly. Coral cover and diversity was decent, and these sites in particular highlighted some beautiful coral canyons.

Overall, I really enjoyed my scuba diving experience in Belize. However, if I'm able to go back to Belize, I would really like to focus instead on the offshore atolls (Lighthouse, Glovers, Turneffe) and of course the Blue Hole. I have not yet been to these locations, but hear rave reviews.

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 02/17/2014

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