With more than 400 islands, several shipwrecks, clear waters, and more than 200 miles of coral reef, it’s no surprise that Belize is a popular mecca for scuba divers.
The Belize Barrier Reef, which runs north-south just a few miles off the mainland, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reef is also part of the largest barrier reef system in the world and home to the Blue Hole, the most famous landmark in the diving world. Originally known only to local fishermen, legendary marine biologist Jacques Cousteau visited the Blue Hole in 1971 and declared it to be on his top 10 list of all-time favorite dive sites.
The Blue Hole is for experienced divers only, but first-time and beginner divers have a lot of choices in Belize, including:
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Located just a few miles offshore of Ambergris Caye (Belize’s largest island), this marine reserve is heavily patrolled in order to preserve the abundance of marine life in the area. The name of the reserve (Hol Chan) means “Little Channel” in the Mayan language because it is a natural “cut” between the interior and exterior side of the reef and is heavily used by marine animals, making it a popular dive site.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is home to rare forms of elkhorn coral as well as dense formations of colorful fish, including barracuda, grouper, snapper, and jacks.
Shark Ray Alley
Situated inside the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley got its nickname from local fishermen who used to stop here to clean their catches before proceeding to the mainland. Over time, sharks (mostly nurse sharks, which pose little danger to humans) and rays would gather here to feed. Today, dive ships continue to toss scraps into the water here so that snorkelers and divers can enjoy the unique experience of being surrounded by frenzied feeders.
Glover’s Reef Atoll
Located on the far edge of the reef, Glover’s Reef Atoll is one of just four atolls not located in the Pacific Ocean. This massive region of shallow lagoons and mangrove forests is a natural breeding ground for fish, but its star attraction is the whale sharks which visit every springtime to consume gigantic quantities of fish spawn and plankton.
If you’re interested in enjoying a scuba diving vacation in Belize, why not try the Belize Boutique Resort and Spa’s special Belize dive and detox program? It combines diving on the reef with amazing spa treatments that are guaranteed to help you unwind, relax, and refresh your mind, body, and spirit.