San Pedro boasts some of the best diving in the world, where visitors can marvel at the sights that are available just minutes from the shore of Ambergris Caye. The San Pedro Sun Visitor Guide continues to explore these wondrous destinations and share our experiences with our readers.
With the constant clear skies and sunny days generally experienced by residents of Ambergris Caye, Belize provides ideal weather to dive the reefs off its shores. Along the shore of Ambergris Caye alone, there are over 30 dive sites that offer world class diving. One such location is “El Pescador”. Gear selection while diving is very impor- tant and should be considered carefully. We need to be sure that our gear “fits”; loose gear could be very problematic at 100 feet underwater. Most BCDs (Buoyancy Control Devices), are easy fit and can be either tightened or loosened with the pull of a strap. BCD’s and regulators are available for rent at most of the island’s many dive establishments. Comfort is key while diving, and could be the deciding factor as to whether your diving experience is unforgettable or not. While the dive shops carry every piece of equipment used for diving, most individuals that dive constantly usually purchase their own gear.
After getting suited up with dive gear, the dive master takes you out to the end of the dock to test tank, air flow, inflation and deflation of BCD and the rest of your dive gear. Once onboard the dive vessel, Dive Master and Tour Guide offers an itinerary of the dive sites to be experienced. On Ambergris Caye, there are various diving adventures that can be had. Most dive excursions include diving one, two or three sites. Each dive uses approximately one tank of air. Dive sites are generally decided by the Dive Master while onboard the dive vessel, and is affected by the tides, which in essence affects visibility. After a suitable dive site is selected, the Dive Master gives a review of the signals he will be using throughout the dive and explains each. These include signs for animals that may be seen as well as signals for the various difficulties that one may encounter during diving.
With preparations complete dive master and divers head out to sea. Most of the dive sites along the shores of Ambergris Caye are within 5 – 30 minutes away from starting point. In just minutes one can be out of the cut en route to “El Pescador”. El Pescador is a reef dive, which means once be- low the surface, divers travel in one direction instead of circling back to where the boat is buoyed. As divers go to their underwater exploration, boat captain follows divers’ bubbles and pick us up when we are finished.
One by one, divers put on their equipment and enter the water. Divers have two choices in entry mode while Scuba Diving, the Giant Stride “deck is needed for this one”, or the back flip over the side of the boat, which is the method gen- erally used here on the island. The water temperature in Belize is generally between 78 - 80 degrees, mak- ing wetsuits un-nec- essary, but available. After diver enters the water, they are re- quired to give the OK signal “opened hands finger tips touching above your head.” When all divers are in, Dive Master gives the signal to release the air from BCDs and a slow descent commences. Slowly, the coral crusted ground beneath the surface ap- proaches. Sea fans wave in the current and other spectacular coral and marine life awaits your exploration.
Once in the water, Dive Master confirms that all divers are fine and have been paired up, he points out the direction the dive will take. Soon the highlight of the dive approaches. A barely noticeable crevice appears in the coral encrusted landscape. Us- ing sign language, the Dive Master instructs divers to follow him as he descends. Dropping 20 feet into a narrow cavern, you ease down a narrow pas- sageway as thin beams of light from above guide your way through this fascinating underwater maze. A large sea crab is among the many interesting creatures that call this cavern home.
After winding through this cavern for what felt like a hundred feet, and with the depth gage nearing 85 feet, the cave opens to reveal the rolling coral reef. Here, you turn north with the vast abyss to your right and the rolling caverns of coral reef to our left. Fish become more abundant as you start your gradual ascent. Then after about a 40 minute tour, it’s time to ascend to the surface. A safety stop is crucial while ascending. While ascending from the “El Pescador” dive, there is a 3 minute safety stop, then a slow ascent to the surface. “El Pescador” provides a glimpse of the vast underwater world, coral reef formations and marine life forms that exist in the waters just off the shores of Ambergris Caye.
San Pedro Sun