Placencia prides itself as having some of the best
diving in Belize ….
The Placencia area is rapidly becoming one of the hottest diving spots in the Caribbean region. Here dive sites are more pristine because they have felt less impact from boats and divers.
As the Belize Barrier Reef progresses southward
along the coast, the reef begins to separate further from the mainland. This results in substantial patches of coral reef, separated by channels dropping to 80 feet or more, forming canyon like walls which rise sharply to form shoals and Caye’s.
This provides shallow sites for snorkelers, while at the same time allowing divers access to nearby sites in deeper waters. Tropical fish such as giant jewfish, stingrays and massive amounts of soft and hard corals abound. Dolphins may provide you a rare opportunity to swim with them (If they are in the mood).
Whale Sharks migrate between May and June through these waters. If you are planning a dive trip with whale sharks in mind, plan on doing it three days before the full moon to three days after the last quarter moon (During this period Cubera Snappers spawn, attracting the Whale Sharks).
Whale Sharks are the largest known fish in the world and can grow up to 50 feet in length and weigh up to 15 tons. They feed mostly on plankton, crustaceans, squid and tiny bait fish, as well as sardines and anchovies, by moving through the water with their mouths open.
In the months of March, April, May and June, Whale Sharks are observed at the Gladden Split by divers and snorkelers. This species, despite its enormous size, does not pose any significant danger to humans. It is a frequently cited example when educating the public about the popular misconceptions of all sharks as ” man-eaters”. They are actually quite gentle and can be playful with divers. Divers and snorkelers can swim with this giant fish without any risk apart from unintentionally being hit by the shark’s large tail fin.
The area is used by over 20 species of Caribbean fish to release their eggs. Because of this unique event the Sharks are attracted to the area to feast on these eggs. Even if no Whale Shark are spotted, divers will have quality encounters with large schools of fish that are in the area to spawn.
The whale shark tours to Gladden Split are lead by well trained whale shark guides to ensure your safety and the safety of the sharks.
Diving the Inner Reef
The Inner Reef acts as a home for juvenile aquatic animals. Here divers will find most of the Gorgonians, (known in the Caribbean as sea fans), sea rods, seawips, sea plumes, cleaner shrimp, yellow-line Arrow Crab, Giant Hermit Crab and a wide variety of juvenile fish such as spotted drum, barracuda, eagle rays and stingray. The depth range on these inner reef dives is between 60 and 80 feet.
Diving the Outer Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef, is home to some of the most spectacular walls that start from around 40 ft. and drop off to approx. 3000 ft. Here the maximum depth for diving is 100 ft. Turtles, Manta Rays, Moray, Eels and Lobsters are just a few of the creatures divers will encounter. Reef visibility is around 80 ft. – 120 ft. Silk Cayes, Pompion, Tarpon and Ranguana are a few of nearly 40 options available for year-round diving and snorkeling.
Fore experienced divers, the “Shark Hole” is literally an underground hole inhabited by nurse sharks. Because of the nature of this dive, a minimum of 50 dives or an Advanced Certificate is required.
Shark Hole is a sink hole inside the main reef, 38 miles from Placencia. Eons ago, the Shark Hole was above water and formed a huge domed cave.
The sink hole is hidden within a turtle grass bed with boulders of corals surrounding the hole. The entrance into the hole is about 35ft at a depth of 42ft. The hole opens up into a domed chamber about 150ft across. Stalactites stipple the roof of the dome at about 60 feet. Thousands of years of accumulating sediment has created a sand hill in the center directly under the opening. The top of this sand hill is 100ft and gradually drop down to the edge of the hole to 130ft.
It is around this sand hill that the sharks circle. Usually they swim up and out of the hole at the approach of the divers, but often will swim deeper into the cave where divers cannot go. The fun (and safe) thing about this cave is that no matter where you are, you can always see the entrance above. The large number of fish around the entrance and within the cave is what attracts the sharks. This dive require lights.
Swim with the many varieties of tropical fish in Belize’s warm Caribbean waters, including Angelfish, Trumpet Fish, rays and beautiful Parrot fish. From Beginners to the experienced, everyone can enjoy snorkeling.
Between the Placencia Peninsula and Belize’s Barrier Reef extends twenty miles of underwater canyons and mountains – the tops of which create the extensive range of cayes with white sandy beaches, the kind you so often see on postcards. Laughing Bird Caye, Pumpkin, Ranguana and the Silk Cayes to name a few…
Some of the most spectacular, unspoiled snorkeling spots that the Caribbean has to offer are experienced in this area. Fewer boats are seen here, compared to more populated areas in the Caribbean, therefore the coral formations are well preserved.
Laughing Bird Caye is the most well known and most frequented snorkel destination in the Placencia area. In addition, the caye offers excellent swimming along with a beautiful beach and a great place to picnic. Laughing Bird Caye is roughly 35 feet wide by 350 feet long. The surrounding area has been designated a marine park.