Best Dive Spots in Ambergris Caye
People come from all around the world to Scuba dive in Belize which is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, which is a large reason why we chose to come to Belize. This little piece of heaven for scuba divers is home to some of the most beautiful underwater wildlife. Ambergris Caye is the largest and most popular of the offshore cayes, with 25 miles of Belize’s spectacular barrier reef sitting less than a mile offshore. The calm waters are full of dense coral and lush reef growth with visibility up to 150 ft. Below are some of my personal favorite dive spots as well as some of the most popular near Ambergris Caye.
Depth: 85ft (25m)
This location has some cool swim throughs, mountain like underwater hills with tons of marine life.
Depth: 60ft (18m)
This is a huge canyon on the others side of the reef, we went down on a rope buoy and in the canyon, saw a giant turtle and a dolphin; breathtaking underwater world there!
Tres Coco Canyons
Depth: 80ft (24m)
This is location of my close encounter with the nurse shark! We also got to see a school of dolphins, trumpet fish, and tons of other beautiful and colorful sea life.
Depth: 80ft (24m)
Since Ambergris is known for its great variety of coral I needed to include this site. Staghorn, elkhorn, brain and lettuce coral are plentiful in this area, as are gorgeous sea fans of pale green, deep purple and red that add to beauty of all the colors and shapes.
The Blue Hole/Lighthouse Reef Atoll (the Aquarium)
Depth: 130ft (40m)/ 50ft (15m)
So I didn’t actually get to do this dive but it is one of the most popular dives for the experienced divers in Belize as it is the biggest in the world. Here you can dive to the deepest point possible at 130ft and swim between stalactites and stalagmites, watching the Caribbean Reef Sharks. The Blue Hole is about two and a half hours away from Ambergris Caye so the package dive also comes with the Aquarium which also doesn’t disappoint. The Aquarium is classified as one of the most well preserved dive spots in Belize’s Barrier Reef, and one of the most beautiful. The site has the largest concentration of marine life that include the Spotted Eagle Ray, Nurse Sharks, Sea Turtles, Barracudas, and more.
The great thing about Ambergris Caye is that there are a lot of shallow areas to snorkel if you aren’t into scuba diving! The most popular spots to snorkel near the reef to see the most marine life are Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark and Rey Alley (a snorkel trip comes as a package and takes you to both spots). The reserve covers approximately three square miles (7.8 sq km). The entire reserve focuses on a cut through the reef which is little more than 25 yards (23 m) wide and 30 feet (9 m) deep. This is a steep channel through the reef, with morays and all kinds of marine life. Shark and Rey Alley is a haven for nurse sharks and reys and the best part about is that you get to you can swim and pet them and they usually feed them as well, but remember don’t get your go pro too close!
Another amazing place for a snorkel and Johnny and I’s person favorite with tons of beautiful marine life is Mexico Rocks, which recently also became a reserve. Here since it is not in a channel the waters are super calm and shallow and easy to swim in. No worrying about the current in the channel like in Hol Chan!
Scuba and Snorkel Belize- Pricing and Tips
The dive shops that we have used during our time in Belize are Blue Heaven Dives (https://www.facebook.com/blueheavendives/), Aqua Scuba (http://www.aquascubabelize.com), and Seastar (http://www.seastarbelize.com/). Which were all great companies with experienced divers who will take the time to show you some really cool underwater life. If you have a specific dive site that you are interested in it is important to talk to the dive master prior to the dive, otherwise they will just take you to the best spot they know considering the day and weather.
Below are some prices that I have researched (all prices are in US dollars):
|Two Tank Dive near the reef (two dives)||$70-80|
|Blue hole and Aquarium dive||$300 (includes $40 park fee)|
|Open water certification||$375-450|
|Regulator, BCD, and wetsuit||$30-37.50 ($10 to $12.50 each)|
|Mask, snorkel, and fins||$10-15|
|Hol Chan Reserve and Shark and Rey Alley||$50-55 (includes $10 park fee)|
|Mexico Rocks (may include 2 snorkel locations depending on the shop)||$45-50 (includes $10 park fee)|
When you book a dive with one of the dive shops in Ambergris Caye it typically says that renting the equipment is an extra charge, but every time we have gone we got the equipment rental included in the price of the dive. If you go during the busiest months (December- March) they may charge you for them.
TIPS: Unless you run really cold you don’t need a wetsuit, I never used one and just dived in my bikini and sometimes a quick dry shirt over the top to protect my skin, and I never got cold! The water temperatures range from 79 degrees in the winter to 85 degrees in the summer. Also, I would say skip the snorkel, you don’t really need it while your diving and its typically more annoying on your mask than anything, I never put one on during my dives in Belize.
We found that the prices are relatively consistent from shop to shop and are more negotiable during the slow seasons (April-mid November). I suggest not going online and booking and adding all the equipment rental to you cart like we do in the states as you could end up spending more money than you need to. Unless you are going in the busy season and in a major time crunch you can book your dives or snorkels a day or two before! This gives you the flexibility to walk around talk to some shops and negotiate some pricing, remember it’s not America so pricing is up for negotiation especially if you go during the slower months (April-mid November). In June, we paid $300 USD each for our certification, which included 5 dives, by talking to people on the beach and shopping around. Lastly, if you are in a time crunch or going during the busy season I suggest making some phone calls vs just booking online as you most likely will get a better deal.
Another way you could get a great diving or snorkel deal is via group rates, if you either come with a group or find some friends on the island to go diving or snorkeling you could get a great deal as they increase their profit margins by having say four or six people on the boat vs two and are more willing to drop their prices.
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