Un-Belize-able - World's Second Largest Coral Reef
South of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula lays the former British Colony - Belize (aka former British Honduras) a gem
with less than 400'000 people of different cultural backgrounds including but not limited to Mayan, Guatemalan, Spaniards, European and Asian.
My diving destination choice was a small fishing village - San Pedro on Ambergris Caye Island, a narrow island as an extension of the Mayan Riviera to the South not wider than a mile or two. As part of the World's Second Largest Coral Reef (Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest) the reefs off the Atlantic East Coast of Ambergris Caye extends as far South as Roatan (Honduras) and holds one of the most numerous specie of fish, corals and sponges in the Atlantic Ocean with permanently warm, turquoise waters. Pro Dive Belize accommodated all my photographic needs perfectly and has an impressive fleet of boats holding between 6 - 18 divers but usually take 6-8 divers per boat (depending on the season). Shore diving suppose to be tricky due to frequent boat traffic between the resorts, hotels and the reef which lays around 400 mt. off the shallow sandy coast.
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye in Belize a perfect diving destination for most diver's needs. - © Beat J Korner 2019
Most dive sites are known to be outside of the reefs and stretch from as far North as Mexico to Turneffe Atoll in the South often requiring to take a boat ride of a few hours to reach the distant dive locations. Belize Reefs are also known for the World famous 'Blue Hole' explored and documented by Jacques-Yves Cousteau with his explorer ship 'CALYPSO' in the 1970's. Since then thousands of divers have dived this unique dive site as part of the "Must-Do-Before-You-Die" Agenda.
At around 90 feet depths there are stalactites that indicates that around the last Ice Age the sea levels where dramatically lower and allowed calcium rich fresh water to drop from the ceiling of a cave and forming these huge columns.
Dive Site names such as; Santa Rita Canyons, Palmeros, Tortuga Canyons, Punta Arena Caverns, Tuffee Canyons and Hol Chan (Marine Reserve) are among the numerous dive locations along the reef. As most names indicate, narrow canyons are carved into the reef by tides and expose an impressive channel-like landscape filled with coral, sponges, gorgonians and colorful reef fish and predators such as Grey Reef sharks and Nurse sharks in vast numbers.
I was excited to see so many sharks and jacks just minutes away from our resorts and hotels. They appeared to be curios but never aggressive. Some Nurse Sharks became very friendly a possible sign of occasional feeding by dive guides. Also the reef looked extremely healthy, hardly any coral bleaching or severe damage caused by boat traffic of reckless divers. The Belize Government is taking great steps to maintain a healthy reef which is rich in fauna and flora.
No dive site was ever boring for me. If you were willing to follow your guide who has the necessary trained eye and knowledge to spot lobster, turtles, sharks and other interesting critters you were in dive haven. After 800 dives since 2009 I spotted my very first Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Belize carrying two Remouras on its back.
Portrait of a mature female Loggerhead Sea Turtle - © Beat J Korner 2019
Loggerhead Sea Turtle with two Remouras as 'hitchhikers' a rare sight in Belize's reefs - © Beat J Korner 2019
The ever curios Nurse Sharks in large numbers seen in most canyons - © Beat J Korner 2019
Large shoals of snappers indicate a healthy reef at Hol Chan Marine Reserve off the coast of San Pedro, one of the most interesting dive sites in Belize - © Beat J Korner 2019
With a mild outgoing current at Hol Chan - Shark Alley a Spotted Eagle Ray hovers over the sandy sea floor looking for crustaceans - © Beat J Korner 2019
Sea fans and soft gorgonians wave in the current - © Beat J Korner 2019
Not afraid of divers - Nurse Sharks - © Beat J Korner 2019
Horse-eye jacks school often accompany a Grey Reef Shark - © Beat J Korner 2019
Last but not least a hand-feeding frenzy at Shark Alley (Hol Chan Marine Reserve) a practice that may face out due to unnatural shark behavior. © Beat J Korner 2019
Diving Information - Belize (San Pedro)
Dive Operators (not tested by Blog Author *)
for non-divers, most operators happily take snorkelers and passengers along (at a cost)
- Island Divers Belize *
- Belize Pro Dive Adventures
- Belize Diving Adventures *
Dive Sites (# dived by Author)
- Pescador Canyons # - Tuffy Canyons # - Hol Chan # - Shark/Ray Alley # - Mermaid Laire # - Victoria #
- Mosquito Canyon # - Tackle Box # - Mermaid # - NoClue Canyon # - Esmerald # - Tarpon Reef # - Sayonara (Turneffe Atoll) #
- Snake Reef (Turneffe Atoll) # - Cypress Canyon # - Shark Canyon #
San Pedro has some impressive, tropical style resorts and hotels which can be booked through any reliable online platform. Not all resorts have dive shops nearby, but traveling within San Pedro is easy and exciting with a bicycle or a golfing cart. As a experienced world traveler I felt extremely safe during day and even at night unless you decide to explore a shady neighborhood or remote dark beaches. Common sense is the key!
US $ and Belizian $ which is worth $0.50 US dollar (Credit Cards accepted)
International flights* to Belize: Philip SW Goldson International Airport BZE
Domestic flights* from BZE to SPR: TROPIC AIR* or MAYA AIR ( book with well known booking apps or directly with airlines)
Ferry to San Pedro: Taxi or Bus from BZE to Belize City Ferry Terminal, Ferry to Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) via
Caye Caulkner to San Pedro (cheaper but more travel time involved)
* Used by blog author and recommended.
Celebrating 800 dives since 2009 and hoping for a few hundreds more down the road. Here celebrating this achievement with my dive buddies by opening a (cheap sparkling) and drinking a sip out of your own (rinsed) dive mask. © Beat J Korner 2019
It was un_Belizeable !
Text and images © Beat J Korner 2019