The Wave Dancer in Belize



GETTING THERE
We flew to Belize City, Belize from a gateway city (in our case Miami) in about one hour and 45 minutes on American Airlines. In addition to American, TACA and Continental Airlines also fly from Houston. Belize (the country) is adjacent to Guatemala and Belize City is a typical Caribbean city of about 70,000 people. It is NOT safe to walk around in Belize City without an escort and especially so at night.

We were met at the airport by the Captain of the Wave Dancer and we never touched our luggage again. Belize airport is about 10 miles from the city; we were transported by bus in about 25 minutes directly to the Wave Dancer. The Wave Dancer is parked right next to its competition, the Belize Aggressor. The Wave Dancer is noticeably taller because it has an extra (sun) deck. However the layout of the diving area seems to be approximately comparable.

Puffer fish
Puffer fish

THE WAVE DANCER

The Wave Dancer is a 120 feet long converted oil boat. It has been outfitted with 10 double cabins each having ensuite facilities. As expected the rooms are small but you are only in your room to sleep. While we had only 18 guests out of the maximum of twenty, there would be no problems handling the maximum number of guests. The boat has four decks, three above water and one below. The lowest deck has some guest cabins and three crew cabins. The main deck has the remainder of the guest cabins, a nice photo table, and the diving deck. The second deck is the dining area (inside and outside dining is available) and entertainment area. The third (top) deck is the sun deck for those unafraid of the tropical sun. The diving area is extremely well thought out. Each person has two tanks and a storage cubicle that are assigned to them for the duration. Your reserve tanks is filled while you are in the water using the other tank so there is always a fresh tank available. Tanks are steel 80s filled to a minimum of 3000 PSI. Getting in the water is simply a giant stride off of the back of the boat. There is a stationary hang bar and tank at 15 feet; getting out of the water is via two ladders which go down several feet into the water. Staff is available for assistance and gear pass up.


Reef Squid

DIVING

Diving is scheduled with two morning dives, two afternoon dives, and a night dive. The only exception to this schedule is on Tuesday when we dive the Blue Hole. The night dive is done at the same sight as the afternoon dive so that you will be familiar with the terrain under water. All diving is done via computer. Rentals are available if you don't have one. In general the diving was excellent. Virtually all dive sites have walls. Most walls go down thousands of feet. Most dive sites also have a shallow (30-50) area available as well. There are swim throughs and coral heads on every dive site. The diving in Belize is still pristine. There are many fish: Tarpon, groupers, trunk fish, lots of angels of various Caribbean varieties, lots of little fish, Eagle Rays, an occasional whale shark, turtles, butterfly fish, dolphins, etc. There are many hard and soft corals, various sponges, etc. All of which are pristine and healthy.

French Angel Fish
French Angel Fish

THE BLUE HOLE

Diving the Blue Hole is on Tuesday. This is NOT a fishy dive but is a very interesting dive nevertheless. It is the only organized dive which is escorted and where all are asked to stay in a group. The Blue Hole is a cavern dive to 130 feet to see what used to be a cave in times gone. It is very eerie because of the depth, visibility (clear) and overhead environment. We had one diver who pushed the tables and had to be assisted but most people were very comfortable and did not violate the maximum suggested depth. Due to the substantial depth and nitrogen, there is a long surface interval between the Blue Hole dive and the afternoon dive. This surface interval is spent having a picnic on a nearby island and seeing some very rare Booby Birds and Iguanas. A nice interlude on land.


"Dirty Harry" the seahorse

AND THEN THERE WERE THE DOLPHINS . . .

On the very first morning we saw two small pods of dolphins from the boat. However on the last full diving day we saw, in water, a pod of 8 dolphins. They frolicked with everyone for at least twenty minutes; one fortunate individual got this on video tape. Truly a remarkable experience.

LAST DAY

The last day was slightly different. We had an early pre-breakfast dive, breakfast and then paid our bill for miscellaneous stuff before the next dive. Following the second dive we washed equipment and dried it on the top deck. We had lunch and arrived back in Belize City about 1:00 PM where we walked 100 yards to the Ramada. There were various tours available in the afternoon and there is a Karioki Bar and Disco available in the evening.

BOTTOM LINE

In summary, there were 26 scheduled dives, five of which were night dives. All dives except for the Blue Hole were unescorted buddy dives. However Wave Dancer personnel were available if you asked for assistance. Equipment for diving and photo/video were available for rent. All gear was high quality and in good condition. PADI courses were available at an additional cost and included AOW and various specialties including photo, deep, night, reef fish and reef critters. Staff were helpful and extremely well organized without appearing so or getting in the way. We had a great time are scheduled to return same time in 1997.


This text and accompanying photos by:
Steve Norvich
Lisle, Illinois
steve@underwaterphotos.com


Belize, Wave Dancer Liveaboard, by Jerry Moss



Day one. Leave N.Y. at about 8am on continental airlines arrive in Houston transfer to next plane to Belize Arrive with all bags for 17 people of 18. One person bags lost. Will not get bags until last day at sea. Wave Dance pickup at airport Three vans, no problems. arrive at ship each person shown or told were room is. while leaving port at about 6pm we have dinner. all meals good not great but good.

Capt. gives hello speech, tells us about boat about dives about meals etc. Drinks and meals included on trip. Nitrox free if you have card. You can dive up to five times a day with about two hours between dives. Getting on & off boat was very easy with big platform and two large ladders. Each morning after breakfast fully site description. after lunch new site for remainder or the day.

also site description after lunch of new site. Dive sites were all good or better then I have seen in a long time. Lots of large coral, large fish, lots of macro shots, no current, small amount of surge in shallow water.

Deep dives off wall were of the oh wow type.. Saw several large spotted eagle rays, one manta ray, one small shark five ft. blunt noise, Tarpoon very large, snappers, turtles Large and small. their was very little we did not see. On Tuesday we did the big blue hole. No big deal, vis. about 30ft there. every other place vis between 100 to 150ft. after they take you to an Island for Lunch & to see the Red footed boobee birds I think that was the name. I suggest a hat.

THE weather (air temp about 84 to 87 deg. water temp between 77 and 81 deg. In all My wife And I did 25 dives. The night dives are great. with my lights from my video the tarpoon would see the bait fish and go on a feeding frenze. If you like the bottom creatures lots of lobsters, crabs, flounder, frog fish, so much I can't remember all.

Days on boat sat part at sea no diving, (sun, mon, tues, wed, thur) full dive days, fri returned to port after two morning dives. sat leave ship at 8:30am and we stayed until 1pm at the radison hotel across from the boat until time for the plane. Plane home everyone got bags, No real problems just had to run through Houston airport to get next plane. Only bad thing was the week went to fast... This was my first liveaboard and I will be going on another.


Belize, Wave Dancer, 1999, by Hawn Diver

Aloha Everyone:
Thought it was about time I contributed to the message board. Anyway, just got back from a week aboard the Wave Dancer in Belize. Arrived early Saturday despite a 5 hour lay over in IAH (Houston). Total flight time was 9 1/2 hours from Hawaii (HNL). East bound travel always "screws up" my body clock so, after 6 Belikan's, I was feeling no pain & was assured a good night sleep.
Continental Airlines had lost my luggage but, said they would pay for the gear rental if my luggage could not be found. Surprisingly, a boat taxi shuttled my gear to our dive site on Turneffe Atoll on the 2nd day. Gear intact, I was ready for a week of blowing bubbles.
The Wave Dancer is Peter's "work horse". She is normally booked at least a year in advanced and, I was very fortunate that someone had cancelled 3 weeks prior. The vessel shows her age but, is still maintained in good working order. There was nothing broken & entire ship was clean & well maintained.

As usual, meals & service was superb! We were pampered & catered to as if on a 4 star land based dive resort. Meals were savory & plentiful.
The Diving....one word, VISIBILITY! Despite being Hurricane season, I was not expecting average visibility in the 50-75ft range. With the exception of 7 dive sites on the windward side, the remaining dives(19)were done on the leeward side. Don't really know, but suspect plankton, alage bloom. I was hoping with all the "muck" we may have an encounters with Manta's or even a Whale Shark but, to no avail. I did have brief encounters with eagle rays & saw dolphins & nurse sharks in the distant. I did all the dives (26) knowing that you can not anticipate what you'd might see or encounter.

The Blue Hole was simular to stingray city & jellyfish lake...Been there, done that. It was an interesting dive but, wouldn't do it again. Favorite dive sites for me were Aquarium & Que Brada. Walls were thick with marine life. Saw Gorgonians 8-10ft in size. Sponges encrusted with nudis, cleaning shrimps & blennies.
Having dove Palau, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands on liveaboards, I'd still do Belize again! The reefs & walls have potential for world class diving. I just wouldn't do it in summer. From what I understand, visibility exceeds 100ft from Jan-May but, H20 temps drop to mid to upper 70's. H20 temps were a toasty 85 & I was fine alternating between my diveskin & 2/1 shorty.
Stay wet, & tiny bubbles
Aloha,
Hawn Diver

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