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Best Diving in Belize

Best Diving in Belize

So you’ve planned your next sailing charter holiday to Belize – why not try a spot on snorkelling or scuba diving? You couldn’t have chosen a better place to immerse yourself in underwater adventures. Belize offers some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean and the world.

From flourishing coral reefs full of fish you can’t find anywhere else, to opportunities to swim with whale sharks and stingrays, everyone from complete beginners to advanced divers can find opportunities that suit them in Belize. 

This blog will cover five of the best places to dive in Belize:

Let’s dive right in…

Does Belize have good scuba diving?

Belize is one of the best destinations for scuba diving. This area is home to expansive marine reserves and conservation sites, so scuba divers who sail over here will be met with spotless atolls, pristine coral reefs, and remarkably good underwater visibility.

Advanced scuba divers will also be delighted to find some of the most challenging dive sites in the world here – for example, as mentioned in our 17 Interesting Facts about Belize blog, the Great Blue Hole is the world’s largest sinkhole, which divers flock to Belize to experience.

Best Time to Dive in Belize

In general, the best time to dive in Belize is November to May, during the dry season. 

Many prefer diving in July and August when there are fewer tourists and the visibility is its best, but diving earlier in the year is ideal if you want to see lots of whales and reef sharks during your visit. If dive sites like Gladden Spit interest you, we specifically recommend planning your sailing charter for December-March.
To learn more about the conditions in Belize, read our Belize Travel Information and Planning Guide.

1 – Great Blue Hole

300m wide and 125m, the Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is not only considered one of the best dive sites in Belize or the Caribbean, but in the world. This is an unmissable attraction for experienced divers.

As you approach, you’ll notice large fish, and a range of sharks including hammerhead sharks and blacktip sharks, in the shallow waters. As you start to descend, however, the marine life will start to wane away – you may notice small fish, and stalactites from when this vertical cave was above water, but the real attraction here is the atmosphere. The Great Blue Hole feels like a deep, deep wall dive. 
To experience the unique diving in the Great Blue Hole, you will likely need to prove you have advanced experience to your dive operator – a PADI Open Water certificate or equivalent, will be required. As mentioned in our Best Places to Visit in Belize blog, this site also falls outside of the Sunsail sailing area, so you will need to hire a local skipper for any excursions to the Great Blue Hole.

2 – Turneffe Atoll

Turneffe Atoll is one of the three true atolls in Belize and a protected marine reserve. An island curving around a lagoon and wide, expansive coral reefs, Turneffe Atoll offers some of the best snorkelling in Belize. 

Only 30 minutes away from Belize City, this island is really accessible for divers making a day trip. Get your snorkelling gear on and start exploring – because the reefs here are so large, you can see essentially any marine life you want to here. The rarest spots are manatees (remember that it’s illegal to swim with them in Belize) and the endemic white-spotted toadfish. Not only is there a healthy fish population here, but many seabirds call Turneffe Atoll home too. It’s no wonder that some people think this gorgeous dive site was the inspiration for Peter Pan’s Neverland.

You could spend hours exploring the unique topography of this atoll. Once you’ve finished swimming, take to one of the lodges on land and relax with a cold drink and marvel at this slice of heaven.

3 – Half Moon Wall

The Half Moon Wall, just off Half Moon Caye, is one of the best places to dive in Belize. The biggest selling point of this dive site is the high visibility – the wall is 30m deep, and on sunny days it provides perfect clarity from the surface to the seabed. 

Divers are always enchanted by the Half Moon Wall – here, you can find some of the most beautiful marine flora and fauna in Belize, as well as a range of vibrantly coloured fishes including angelfish, butterfly fish and wrasse. You may also spot garden eels, hawksbill turtles and eagle rays here. Make sure to explore the tunnels and fissures in the wall to find colourful barrel sponges, sea fans and hard coral. 

After your dive, you can explore Half Moon Caye in all its glory. With pristine white sand and sweeping palm trees, this little island is great to hike around as you dry off.

4 – Gladden Spit

Have you always wanted to go swimming with sharks? Gladden Spit is the perfect place to give this a try. This site is not only one of the best dive sites in Belize, but it is an area frequented by whale sharks. Every full moon, countless numbers of jacks, cubera, mutton and dog snappers flock to Gladden Spit to spawn, and in turn whale sharks come to feast on the spawn clouds. 

In the full moon, boats sail from Placencia in southern Belize to swim with these sharks. This is a good opportunity for more experienced scuba divers – while sharks are very gentle, they are also large and strong fish that can grow to lengths of 60 feet and inexperienced divers may not be able to keep up with them. Not to mention, the currents can also be quite strong.

As long as you check in advance that your trip dates correspond with the full moon, you are guaranteed a magical time diving in Gladden Spit that you will not soon forget.

5 – Glover’s Reef

Our final pick for the dive sites in Belize is Glover’s Reef. This marine reserve is found in the most southern of Belize’s three atolls, isolated and quiet compared to more well-known diving spots. This reef, however, might be the most underrated dive site in Belize for just those reasons.

Glover’s Atoll is home to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s research centre, which has hosted hundreds of scientific expeditions over the last 20 years. This is reflective of how well-protected Glover’s Reef is; the lagoons are crystal-clear due to minimal sedimentation and pollution from the shore, and the corals are strong, established at depths of up to 300ft down. 

Experience the beauty of coloured tube sponges, staghorn coral, soft corals and a variety of reef fish – this is a popular spawning site for the endangered Nassau grouper in particular, which has been overfished across the Caribbean. Keep an eye out for them, as well as enormous manta rays, eagle rays, green sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins.
This beautiful and non-commercialised dive site is a monument of sustainable tourism (read our Top Tips for Eco-Friendly Sailing to learn about what you can do) and definitely offers some of the best snorkelling in Belize.

Discover Belize with Sunsail

Whether you’re looking to set out alone on a bareboat charter or sail as a group in a flotilla charter, Belize is a fantastic destination to explore by sea. Taking the helm of a catamaran or monohull yacht is an experience like no other, and with a Belize sailing itinerary for inspiration, you can make the most of not just the great dive sites in Belize, but everything this area has to offer.

To start planning your Belize sailing holiday, start building your quote today.

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hannah

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