We travel up to six miles (10 km) north and four miles (6.5 km) south on the outside of the reef. The reef is 1/2 mile (1.5 km) off-shore making any local dive easy to get to and in minimal time.
It is said that Belize has more marine life per square foot than any place on earth. The living proof is in the miles of living, colorful coral. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25-28 C) during the winter months and 81 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (27-29 C) in the summer. The visibility rarely drops to 60 feet (18 m) but can be as much as 150 feet (45 m), averaging between 80 to 100 feet (24-30 m). The average depth for local reef diving is between 60 and 80 feet (18-24 m). Canyons and caverns can also be explored for the more advanced diver with depths from 100 to 130 feet (30-39 m).
One of the most popular local dive sites is Hol Chan Marine Reserve, ideal for snorkelers and divers alike. The reserve is only moments away by boat, approximately four miles (6.5 km) southeast of San Pedro. The central feature of the reserve is a natural break or cut in the reef. The cut is famous for it's schools of exotic fish, coves with moray eels, swaying seafans, an abundance of large groupers, snappers and of course, nurse sharks. The reserve itself encompasses more than five square miles (8 sq km) of ecologically linked coral reef, sea grass meadows and coastal swamp habitats.
The need for protection in this area has stemmed primarily from an increase in tourism along with a history of stress from being overcollected, overfished and anchor damage. With the protection offered to the area by "reserve status" it is hoped that the area will be restored to that of it's ancestral age. In an effort to contribute to its preservation, Park Rangers collect a $2.50US fee from all divers and snorkelers who take advantage of this waterworld. As one of the most popular dive locations, it offers a variety of dive sites that range in depth. The most popular is the Hol Chan Cut, just inside the reef where the coral rises to the surface in a long snaking ridge. With a maximum depth of 32 feet and during opportune diving conditions, this dive is gentle with the insurance of seeing some of the best of Belize. Hol Chan also enjoys a healthy nightlife where a look in the dark will enhance your appreciation of the lives led by our underwater friends.
Folks try to visit the sea twice daily at 9:00am and 2:00pm and only need two divers to make a local trip. Two tank dives are the most popular with the surface interval back on the island. Only a handful of locations are inside the reef, such as Hol Chan Marine Reserve, but we like to save those for the windy days. Ambergris Caye can be known for it's tradewinds and due to the sometimes high wind factor, dives may need to be postponed or delayed until the swells calm.
Following is the approximate price list for local diving.
2-Tank Dive - $60us
1-Tank Dive - $35us
All dives include tank(s) and weights.
Equipment Rental - $ varies according to needs, such as BCD, regulator, wetsuit, fins, mask, snorkel.
Night diving is another adventure not be passed up while on the Caye. The marine life is abundant and the coral colors under light are magnificent. Night diving is done at Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Night Dive - $35
Night Light - $5
OUTER CAYE DIVE TRIPS
From San Pedro, outer Caye dive trips include two of the three atolls located off the mainland of Belize, Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Islands. Both have spectacular diving with the opportunity to wall dive some of the best. Glover's Reef, the third of the atolls in the Caribbean is located south, making it a little too far to travel on a day trip.
One of the main attractions to the diving community of Belize and known world-wide, is the Blue Hole. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau, the Blue Hole is located in the centre of the most eastern of the atolls in Belizean waters, Lighthouse Reef. The almost perfectly circular Blue Hole is a 1,000 feet (300 m) across and about 480 feet (144 m) deep. For millions of years the Blue Hole was a dry cave and for this period huge stalactites and stalagmites slowly formed. When the last ice age ended thousands of years ago, sea levels rose about 300 feet (90 m), flooding the cave. At the same time most of the ceiling collapsed, leaving the hole you see today. At the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef is the 45 acre Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, the country's first national park, established in 1982. It is home to sandy beaches and close to 4,000 red-footed booby birds, making it the official Booby Bird Sanctuary.
Turneffe Islands atoll is the largest of Belize's three atolls. Turneffe is home to pristine little cayes, covered with palms which encircle clear waters of the central lagoon. An abundance of mangrove surrounding the lagoons, make it the perfect spot to spawn new marine life. The deep blue, just outside the atoll drops to 1,000 feet (300 m) making this some of the most spectacular wall diving in all of Belize
Outer Caye dives should be planned in advance, as bookings are limited. We can book one and two day trips to the Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef and one day excursions to Turneffe Islands. Both trips go several times weekly as long as the demand is constant. Following you'll find details and pricing on these underwater adventures.
BLUE HOLE ONE DAY AT LIGHTHOUSE REEF
On your one day trip to Lighthouse Reef, you begin with your first dive at the Blue Hole, a two and a half hour boat ride away. You will swim under what is left of the old ceiling to view the remaining stalactites and stalagmites. This dive is to 130 feet (39 m). The second dive is at Long Caye Wall. This wall crests at 25 feet (7.5 m) and drops off sheer to 2000 feet (600 m). Here depths range from 25 feet to 60 feet (7.5-18 m). Lunch is then served on Half Moon Caye where you will visit the Booby Bird Sanctuary. The final destination is Turneffe Islands where you may even get lucky and spot a dolphin or two. This last dive is at the north-west wall which starts at 35 feet (11 m) and slopes off to 120 feet (36 m).
Snorkeling can also be enjoyed at Lighthouse Reef. Snorkelers and divers join on this adventure. The snorkeling is amazing, giving you a different view from the surface.
Departure is at 6:00am and you will return at sunset.
The one day trip includes transportation, three tanks, equipment, lunch, snacks and beverages. There is a $5US park fee at the Booby Bird Sanctuary and a minimum of 8 passengers required.
BLUE HOLE TWO DAY AT LIGHTHOUSE REEF
Leaving at 6:00am and taking about two and a half hours to travel to the Lighthouse Reef atoll, your journey will be aboard the seaworthy Offshore Express. On day one you will dive Half Moon Caye Wall, Long Caye Wall and of course the Blue Hole.
As the sun sets, camp will be set up on Half Moon Caye where you'll enjoy an evening of peace and quiet. You'll be staying right at the Booby Bird Sanctuary.
The next morning it's off to the Turneffe Islands where you will enjoy two more dives.
The overnight excursion includes transportation, five tanks, equipment, meals, snacks and beverages, along with all of your overnight requirements. There is a $5US park fee at the Booby Bird Sanctuary and a minimum of 8 passengers required.
ELBOW (SOUTH) AT TURNEFFE ISLANDS
Some spectacular diving awaits those who choose to do the Elbow. Here you will experience the ultimate in wall diving. The Elbow is your first dive on this trip. There is a complete array of marine life on this dive. Your second dive is Billy Bob's. This dive is well known for spotted eagle rays and grouper. Lunch time is spent basking in the sun and enjoying a picnic while waiting to go on your third dive.
The next stop is Myrtle's Turtles, the last of the dives to complete your adventure.
NORTH WALL AT TURNEFFE ISLANDS
Enjoy a panoramic display of crystal clear Caribbean water and island beauty as you are transported to the Turneffe atoll. Here you will enjoy three magnificent wall dives.
Your first dive will be on the virgin corals of Vincente Wall. Once you surface from your underwater exploration, you will head to your second dive at Rendezvous Wall.
The boat will then take you to Mauger Caye for an enjoyable picnic. After lunch there is a snorkel stop at Dorey Channel. The last dive is at Gorgonian Wall.
Both one day trips include transportation, three tanks, equipment, lunch, snacks and beverages.
* Dive sites may change at the atolls given the weather, visibility and at the judgement of the operator.
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