The coastal ecosystems of Belize are both varied and fascinating. The Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef system in the world, runs the length of the nation and is abundant with marine life. Sandy cayes (low-lying islands), offshore atolls, mangrove forests and lagoons are dotted along the barrier reef which itself sits a reasonable distance from the mainland at approximately 300m in the north and 40km in the south. With this in mind, it is important to plan a base carefully on a diving holiday to Belize for those wanting to avoid long boat trips. Colourful gorgonians sway gently in clear, turquoise waters and are frequented by over 500 species of fish, green and hawksbill turtles, rays and even the occasional shark, ideal conditions for divers and snorkellers alike. Whether travelling as a family, couple or solo, there is something for everyone on a diving holiday to Belize.
Actun Tunichil Muknal
South water caye
Lamanai ruins in Orange Walk
Diving holidays in Belize have traditionally been focused on the northern cayes, including Ambergris Caye. Whilst there are scuba diving opportunities here, we find these cayes to be overrun with tourists and the dive sites less healthy. The distance from the best dive sites such as the famous Blue Hole and the Lighthouse Reef is large, so whilst they are possible to reach on long day trips, our recommendation is to stay further south or join a liveaboard.
The very best dive sites in Belize are to be found along the barrier reef system, exploring the outer atolls and reefs. Turneffe Atoll has a couple of good dive resorts or can be accessed by liveaboard. A marine reserve since 2012, this is the largest of Belize’s three atolls and is home to some of the best scuba diving in the country. There are over 65 dive sites to choose from ranging from dramatic walls to sandy ledges, with a wealth of hard and soft corals home to Caribbean reef fish, turtles, dolphins, eagle rays, sharks and moray eels.