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The 5 Best Diving & Snorkeling Spots in Belize

The 5 Best Diving & Snorkeling Spots in Belize

Planning a sailing charter vacation in Belize? Known for its pristine waters and diverse marine environments, Belize offers some of the world’s best spots for diving and snorkeling.

If you love snorkeling or scuba diving, Belize is home to some of the best dive sites in both the Americas and the world. 

Whether exploring flourishing coral reefs, swimming alongside sharks, or diving into the depths of the world-renowned Great Blue Hole, Belize has it all.

In this blog, we will cover just five of the best dive sites in Belize for snorkeling and scuba diving:

Does Belize have good diving and snorkeling spots?

Belize may be one of the best places in the world to go diving and snorkeling. While a lot of attention is drawn to the very challenging dive sites in Belize, there are many more places suitable for beginners and people looking to take it easy and enjoy the marine life.

Thanks to robust conservation efforts, Belize’s coral reefs are in excellent condition, ensuring fantastic underwater visibility. Not to mention, the biodiversity is one-of-a-kind – from rare, endemic fish who choose to spawn here, to large mammals like manatees, you’re always guaranteed a sight like no other when you go diving or snorkeling in Belize.

When is the best time to dive or snorkel in Belize?

The best time to snorkel and scuba dive in Belize is between April and June. At this time of the year, waters are crystal clear and conditions are calm for improved visibility.

If you’re looking for slightly cooler temperatures, we recommend diving or snorkeling between November – April.

Due to increased rainfall between July and October, we would avoid snorkeling and scuba diving as a result of choppy conditions. 

Shark Ray Alley

Caye Caulker is home to some of the best snorkeling in Belize, and amongst the options here is Shark Ray Alley. This shallow sandy area on the inside of the Belize Barrier Reef is a relaxed option for divers in Belize, offering a fantastic experience to beginners and families.

Fishermen used to clean their catches here, dropping the discarded fish guts into the water, which attracted nurse sharks and stingrays (hence how the area got its name). Dive instructors now do the same thing to draw the creatures back to Shark Ray Alley. 

If you’re drawn to the idea of swimming with sharks, this is a nice, easy place to try it – while we don’t recommend touching them, of course, both nurse sharks and stingrays are gentle, playful and friendly species, bound to charm even the most anxious snorkelled.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Near Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a full day out for snorkelers. This is Belize’s oldest marine reserve, established in 1987 by Janet Gibson, a local biologist who has pioneered marine conservation in the region and is now director of the Belize Wildlife Conservation Society. 

The shallow waters here offer some of the best snorkeling in Belize for eco-conscious tourists. Sailors should note that the Hol Chan (Mayan for “little channel”) is a passage where boats can pass through these waters without hitting the coral. The strict guidelines here prohibit touching the coral or fishing, so make sure to read up in advance of sailing over here. Also consider visiting our Ocean Promise to learn what we’re doing for sustainable travel.

Split into four sections – the cut (or channel), the seagrass beds, the mangroves, and shark ray alley (not the same one mentioned above) – Hol Chan Marine Reserve is home to more than 160 species of fish, notably including moray eels, hermit crabs, royal grammas and several different kinds of sharks. In the wet season, you might even spot some manatees.

Great Blue Hole

No list of the best dive sites in Belize would be complete without mentioning the Great Blue Hole – not far from Lighthouse Reef (see below), the Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage site, considered the world’s largest sinkhole and a must-see for advanced divers. 

On approach, you’ll notice that the Great Blue Hole is a far deeper shade of blue than the surrounding water. It is a vertical cave that spans 1000 feet across and 400 feet deep – as mentioned in our Top 5 Things to Do in Belize blog, this dive site is a geological wonder. 

Marine life is not the main attraction here – while you’re likely to see some large fish and reef sharks in the surrounding reefs, you’re far less likely to meet any aquatic life inside the Great Blue Hole. As you descend, the most incredible thing you will notice is a thermocline about 100ft down – the temperature will drop dramatically. This is a completely unique scuba diving experience.

Ambergris Caye

Near Turneffe Atoll, Ambergris Caye is a great dive site to visit if you want to stay near civilization – it encompasses many of the northernmost reefs of Belize and is home to many resorts and good nightlife. 

The most convenient way to get to the reefs here is to moor in Belize city and take a water taxi (tickets for which you can purchase at the Maritime Museum. Explore the varied topography, swimming through craggy reefs abloom with a range of sea fans, grasses and other aquatic plants. There are a lot of marine species in Ambergris Caye that you can’t find elsewhere in Belize – for example, various species of grouper fish, including black groupers and red hinds, gather in thousands to spawn here. 

After a dive here, you could take your partner or friends on a night out to one of the local bars and have a round of Belkin beers, or book a room at one of the local resorts and spend the rest of the day being pampered.

Lighthouse Reef

This 22-mile-long atoll offers some of the best diving in Belize, if not the whole world. This magical dive site is suitable for snorkelers and scuba divers alike, offering an enchanting landscape to explore with vertical coral walls and patch reefs.

As you submerge, you will quickly be greeted with a kaleidoscope of colorful aquatic plants – watch gorgonian sea fans waft with the current, and admire the enormous brain corals and various soft corals dotted around. Fish you may encounter include flurries of creole wrasse, the occasional passing cuttlefish, and various types of pufferfish. You can also find hawksbill turtles, eagle rays, long cowfish and whitetip or blacktip reef sharks.

Sail Around Belize with The Moorings

Whether you choose a bareboat, power or crewed charter, a sailing vacation around Belize is always a good idea. With your own exclusive sailing or power yacht, reaching even the most remote snorkeling and diving spots is effortless. You can take complete charge of your vacation, cruising to the destinations that interest you most and building your own Belize sailing itinerary

Ready to dive into Belize’s breathtaking underwater world? Start planning your dream snorkeling or diving adventure with The Moorings today!

Contributor

isabelcoltham

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