Scuba thoughts?

Posted By: Devo

Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 05:38 PM

Hello all! First of all, I gotta say, this is such a fantastic board! I've been doing a bit of research for my first trip to AC (Jan 15-22), and I'm astonished at the volume of information that passionate Belize lovers like you guys have made available to newbies like me! Okay, enough exclamation points.

So my fiancee and I booked our trip to AC in hopes of finding a whole lot of relaxation, hopefully some warm sunny weather, and ideally some great scuba diving. I've dived at Cozumel, and while the water was pretty great, the island life was anything but relaxing. I enjoyed it, but I'm hoping for a bit less chaos this time around.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm curious about experiences others have had diving AC and the outer atolls. Will I be disappointed with Hol Chan compared with Cozumel? Should I only try to book excursions out to Turneffe and Lighthouse? Cuz that can get kinda expensive real quick-like. Ideally, we'd like to spend three or four days diving, and three or four days exploring the island and San Pedro. If anyone has diving suggestions (and any other suggestions!!!) or experiences they'd like to share, I'd love to hear them! Hope to hear from some of my fellow divers... as well as anyone else who'd like to meet up for a Belikin or three!
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 06:24 PM

Since I'm sitting here at the box, I will offer my humble opinion. First of all (my opinion), I've never seen anything as grand, varied and expansive as the Coz reef. The atolls are a bit different than Coz, but very beautiful and primo diving. The sites just outside the reef, just off AC, are a bit less exciting, but also very enjoyable at the same time. Hol Chan is a shallow but fun dive, lots of critters of all types and a lot of structure. Be prepared for just about any type of critter anywhere you dive. I might suggest making at least one trip out to the atolls, or even the Blue Hole. The BH is an experience in itself, but there are a few other dives that trip in fantastic spots. The trip can be rough if the sea is up, but it's all part of the experience.
We bailed out of Cozumel about 6 years ago because of the influx of people. We like our down time to be relaxed. In Jan you will find warm weather (typically 80's daytime, 70's night). You might pack a windbreaker for evenings. You will find a relaxed laid back atmosphere, friendly people, great food and beverages. If you can't relax here, you need professional help.
Posted By: Devo

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 06:52 PM

Bobber, you are a gentleman and a scholar! Thank you for your reply.

I've found that your opinion of the atolls is shared by many others, and I wonder what you mean by "exciting"... I definitely hope we can get out to Lighthouse (that's where BH is, right?) as I've heard that Half Moon is something of pure and simple beauty, and that we stand a good chance of seeing some Mantas! Speaking of rays (of a different sort!), what's your take on Shark-Ray Alley? I've done the Stingray City thing in Grand Cayman, and I enjoyed myself despite the throngs of splashing cruise-shippers jockeying for a touch of the rays. Is it anywhere near as jam-packed at Shark-Ray alley?
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 07:35 PM

Shark-Ray Alley is a hoot. We do it every trip, something about having those nurse sharks all over. Last trip we had about an 8 footer, and a bunch of 5 footers, plus the rays and some huge groupers. The boatmaster was chumming and we were right in the middle of a feeding frenzy, the sharks actually would scoot between your legs. If you have an UW camera, even a throw away, this is the place to take some good pics. There may be a few boats there, depending on the cruise ship situation, but nothing like Grand Cayman.
We did stingray city in Grand Cayman. We went out in a good size tour boat (picked out of an obscure ad in one of the magazines) and it was just our party of 4 plus another couple. We got there and saw 3 other boats, one cruiser, one cat and a sailboat, with people just hanging off them, all wearing big red lifejackets. Our captain said "cruise ship folks". We anchored about 50 yards from them and had a mildly amusing time. Shark -Ray is a lot more fun.
By less exciting I mean that just outside the reef is pretty much spur and groove, little canyons that you float above and sometimes dip down into, but a lot of things to see. Short boat trip tho. Out in the atolls you can get walls, wide sweeping plains that drop off into the depths, or even some good structure to weave around. I consider the Blue Hole to be a novelty thing, not a whole lot to see, just a deep dive and a bunch of stalactites, and probably a few sharks following you around. One of those things that you do once if you have the urge. The other dives on the trip are truly nice and lunch at half moon is a chance to look at yourself and say, "it don't get any better than this".
Posted By: Devo

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 07:50 PM

Man o man, I can't wait. I'm giddy about Shark-Ray Alley, as I even had fun at Stingray City! My poor fiancee (also a diver, but a bit skittish of the larger beasties) is a bit hesitant to do Shark-Ray, but now I really gotta find a way to convince her!

OK, I hate to keep bothering you, but Bobber, you're a treasure trove of info, and I'm San Pedro Daydreamin, so if you'll indulge me, I'm still curious. If we were to go on just one full day outing to one of the outer atolls, which would you say would offer us the biggest diving bang for our buck? I'm not hell-bent on seeing BH, as I hear it's just as impressive from the puddle-jumper as it is from below... but I'd love to see a whole lot of critters, and as many big guys as I can! With that in mind, whaddaya say, Turneffe or Lighthouse?
Posted By: mobunny

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 08:16 PM

Last August we went to Shark Ray Alley for our surface interval when diving with Protech. The other folks on the dive boat went in right away however, Irm and I were a little slow to splash (sorry for the lingo - just read "Shadow Divers"). The minute we put our heads in the water and looked around there was a school of about 13 nurse sharks of varying size. Just leisurely swimming by. Very fun and cool. Enjoy! mobunny cool
Posted By: egcntrk

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 08:34 PM

Devo, gotta chime in here. I snorkel, and was hesitant about being in the water with those sharks, too. Tell your wife I jumped right in the water and never had a moments fear of them. It was a fantastic experience!

Maybe these will help get her in the water! Enjoy your trip!!!
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 08:41 PM

I enjoyed lighthouse a bit more than Turneffe, possibly the difference between a sunny day and a rainy day, but I think Lighthouse was prettier. When you are at the BH on the surface, it looks like you are just anchored in the middle of nowhere, not very impressive unless you are either flying over or underwater. I might do the trip again, just snorkel the BH and do the other 2 dives.
Before going to AC, my wife was convinced every shark ever born was issued a picture of her with an attack on site notice. Now she is usually first in the water.
Posted By: Devo

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 08:53 PM

LOL! Thanks to you both, Bobber and egcntrk! I'll share your thoughts with Dawn and hopefully she'll have a change of heart! Perhaps if I can manage to convince her that the chum probably tastes a whole lot better to those guys that she does...
Posted By: egcntrk

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 09:12 PM

You are welcome...should we show her the one of me petting the shark eek or would that scare the bejebbers out of her?
Posted By: Devo

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 09:35 PM

Ha! egcntrk, I'd like to see the one of you petting the shark! As long as it's not digesting your arm, I think maybe it would help soothe her rattled nerves...
Posted By: egcntrk

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 09:46 PM

You will notice I'm touching the back end and Tulu is holding it. As long as she doesn't stick her hand in their mouth she'll be ok.

View from the boat
Posted By: fuzzy_navel

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 10:40 PM

Devo - I had NO intention of getting in there with those sharks but ended up being one of the first ones in as curiosity got the better of me. I went in but stayed what I thought was a safe distance from the sharks. I actually ended up hugging a really big one eek , quite by mistake I can assure you. There were two other ladies on our boat that had decided they would skip this part of the tour but about 15 minutes later I saw them both in the water smile .
Posted By: J DOG

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/06/05 11:50 PM

Won't find a better nite dive than Hol Chan, I agree with Bobber as well do at least one Atoll trip The B.H.Light house is the best!!
The local diving is very cool for first timers.
Bobber you sound like a really interesting guy will you be there between Jan29-Feb13,Like to drink a Belikin or three with you.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/07/05 12:46 AM

Sorry JDog. I will be in Bonaire at that time (not my idea, however the negotiation involved ensures AC next trip). Feel free to drink my Belikins. Maybe next time.
Posted By: knowell

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/07/05 06:35 PM

Shark Ray alley is quite different than Sting Ray City. I liked being able to dive and sit on the bottom at Sting Ray City. Shark Ray is much shallower so you have to snorkle. Hol Chan is a good dive. We usually do it the first day because it is shallow just to check out our gear and get used to diving again. It is close to Shark Ray alley so you can do both at the same trip if you want.
Posted By: Devo

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/07/05 07:05 PM

Excellent info, one and all! Thanks to everyone who contributed. I think so far the two definite trips I'll be taking will be to Hol Chan, Shark-Ray and whatever other neighboring sites our divemaster will recommend, and then off to Lighthouse on another day. If we have enough money left over after that, perhaps we'll just ask Patojo what he thinks we should do...

Apparently Patojo's is the dive shop associated with Capt. Morgan's, where we're staying, so we'll probably go through him. I've only read good things about his operation, so I imagine we'll be fine. What other dive shops have you folks used in the past?
Posted By: suzanne0918

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/07/05 07:12 PM

We stayed at Ramon's in Nov. and used their dive outfit for all our diving. Could not have been more pleased with the service. Good equipment, if you don't feel like lugging your own. Cool dive masters who weren't bored with the diving and always found something of interest for us to see. Have a great trip
Posted By: Marie

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/09/05 02:13 AM

Hi Devo,

The first time I saw a nurse shark, I alsmost swallowed my regulator. After years of going there, I found out that they don't bite even if you pull their tail!

Our dive instructor, we just finished Rescue Diver last year, is Sylvin Forman at Bottom Time ([email protected] He's just wonderful. If he's not training someone, he can take you out. If not, the other guys are great, too. Sylvin and his brother Allan were two of the first divers on Ambergris, so you'll get great knowledge and experience. Tell him Marie and John send our love! Marie Rallis
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/09/05 02:34 AM

Pull a nurse shark's tail enough and it WILL bite you. Every few weeks I see someone who's done it, most recently yesterday. I'm glad to say he wasn't diving with us. But treated sensibly and reasonably they're very placid creatures.
Posted By: itsjustme0770

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/09/05 03:19 AM

Amen Pedro. Look, don't touch people. Remember what your mothers told you.
Posted By: J DOG

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/09/05 07:15 PM

Patojo's is one of the best,I've always dove with Amigos Del Mar, whether I'm solo or bringing groups.Never had any complaints.
If you make the B.H.Half Moon Caye trip which is part of the Light Reef Atoll, you'll probably go with Amigos Del Mar,they have a big fast boat that you'll stay dry in. The two wall dives after the B.H. are the two best dives I've made in Belize! Expensive trip $165-175US but worth it!!
Posted By: jfabes

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/09/05 09:43 PM

pedro2 what dive operator do you work for?
Posted By: Cajun Mermaid

Re: Scuba thoughts? - 01/11/05 05:12 AM

I did the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye trip with Amigos del Mar Thansgiving week and it was great...really great dives. I would highly recommend it.. :-)
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