Best Diving in Belize

Best Diving in Belize

Discover the beauty of Belize, a slice of paradise placed perfectly between Mexico and Guatemala, just south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. One of Central America’s top tourist and dive destinations, the 240-mile coastline is lined with mangroves, dense tropical forests, ancient ruins, palm-lined beaches and endless hidden gems. Yet, the true beauty of Belize lies beneath the turquoise waters.

Stretching 190 miles along the coastline, the Belize Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. The reefs and islands of Belize have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, all playing their role in forming the famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world. Over 450 idyllic islands are scattered about the shimmering Caribbean Sea, ranging from tiny specks of coral to the world-famous Blue Hole dive site.

TOP 15 DIVE SITES IN BELIZE

Whether you’re a beginner diver testing the waters or ticking the “signature dive of Belize” off your scuba diving Belize bucket-list, diving in Belize promises an underwater adventure for all. Snorkel the thriving gardens, swim with whale sharks or descend 130 feet to spectacular stalagmites, stalactites, caverns and sharks! 

Journey with us to the depths of the ocean as we plunge into the ultimate of the Belize Barrier Reef, as Charles Darwin so aptly named “The Most Remarkable Reef in the West Indies”.

1. THE GREAT BLUE HOLE

Location: Long Caye

Best For: Advanced Divers

An absolute must for advanced divers is the Great Blue Hole, a perfectly circular limestone sinkhole and one of the most famous dive sites in the world.

Belize’s signature dive takes you deep to the caverns of this geological wonder, passing bright reefs and often accompanied by sharks.

Named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the “Top Ten Dive Sites in the world”, this deep dive requires experience and a PADI advanced divers’ certification.

The Great Blue Hole is known for its incredible aquatic life from colorful reef and juvenile fish species to sharks and giant groupers. At 300m wide and 125m deep, it’s a one of kind natural formation considered one of the “Ten Most Amazing Places on Earth”. A bucket-list dive site, one of the best places to scuba dive in Belize … only a boat ride away!

2. Half Moon Caye

Location: Half Moon Caye

Best For: Amazing Views

The full day trip to the Great Blue Hole is normally combined with another Lighthouse Reef top diving site, known as “The most colorful wall dive in the world”.

Unbelievable visibility exposes hidden tunnels of neon sponges, bright white sands and brilliant fish life.

Divers descend deep into the colorful canyons and tunnels, snorkelers explore the reef of Eagle Ray Wall and bird lovers enjoy the only red footed booby bird sanctuary in the world.

3. THE AQUARIUM

Location: Long Caye

Best For: Underwater Marine Life

The final stop after the Great Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye on Belize’s best day trip, the Aquarium lies on Long Caye just in front of Lighthouse Reef.

Known for its table-top formation and steep 90-degree wall drop, this is an easy shallow drift dive with high visibility. One of the most well-preserved sites, the Aquarium lives up to its name with awesome lush patches of coral and one of the largest varieties of marine life in Belize.

You’ll swim these waters with schools of Bermudas and Barracudas, Trumpet Fish, Sergeant Majors, Queen AngelFish and Creole Wrasse. In addition, you’ll find Spotted Eagle Rays, Hawksbill Turtles and Caribbean Reef Sharks.

The Aquarium is one of Belize’s favorite dive spots.

4. Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley

Location: Ambergris Caye

Best For: Beginners

On the southern tip of Ambergris Caye, the well protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the smallest in the world offering some of the best snorkeling in Belize.

A narrow channel cuts through a flourishing shallow reef where you’re surrounded by schools of vibrant fish and towering stands of elkhorn corals.

At only 30 feet deep with near perfect visibility, the cut is a must-see. The site’s biggest attraction is the nearby Shark Ray Alley. Once a cleaning ground for fisherman, this dive promises an up close and personal encounter with swarms of both Stingrays and Nurse Sharks.

5. LOVE TUNNELS

Location: San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Maneuver your way through the tight spaces and small cave-like formations of The Love Tunnels, the closest you will get to experiencing cave diving in Belize.

Only 25 minutes from downtown San Pedro, The Love Tunnels take you to depths of 85 feet where you’ll swim through caverns teeming with large pelagics and an abundance of juveniles and groupers.

The highlight of the Love Tunnels is the large coral cavern, The Chapel, a unique wedding destination!

6. Tackle Box Canyons

Location: San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Only a mile offshore from downtown San Pedro is Tackle Box Canyons, a spectacular intermediate site of steep grooves, deep narrow canyons with vertical walls, caverns and tunnels.

Excellent visibility displays an abundance of sea creatures on top of the colorful coral ridges.

With a little luck you may spot a Black Tip Shark or a nocturnal Glassy Sweeper, but you’ll be sure to see Nurse Sharks and large Grouper along with schools of diverse aquatic life on the outer wall and around the reef.

7. Christ of the Abyss (Boca del Rio)

Location: San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

One of Belize’s most interesting sites, the Christ of the Abyss takes you to the depths of the ocean where you’ll find a life size statue of St. Peter, the patron of San Pedro.

With arms wide open, the statue resembles a statue of Jesus, hence the name.

Easily accessible and only five minutes from downtown San Pedro, close to the Boca Del Rio Channel, you’re welcomed by a spur and groove system of healthy coral hills and sandy channels. Rays, sharks and smaller fish swim in the shallows and Green and Hawksbill Turtles are found close to the drop-off. 

8. Gladden Spit

Location: Placencia, Belize

Belize Whale Sharks

No trip to Belize is complete without a world-class whale shark diving experience, off the coast of Southern Belize.

Divers, snorkelers and curious tourists head to the waters of Gladden Spit from April to June for a personal encounter with these magnificent giants of the ocean, the Belize Whale Shark.

A natural spawning ground for a variety of ocean critters, the massive whale sharks are drawn here to feed. These incredible ocean creatures are up to 60 feet (18m) in length and welcome you to our waters for the ultimate whale shark experience.

9. The Silk Cayes

Location: Placencia, Belize

More of a snorkeler than a deep-water diver?

Surrounded by unique coral formations and calming hues of blue, these crystal clear waters are a snorkelers’ paradise. Possibly the most photographed islands in the Caribbean with one of the largest biggest varieties of marine life.

Castaway to crystal clear turquoise waters and coral beds teeming with endangered sea turtles, schools of marine life and at the right time of year, the spectacular whale shark. The Silk Cayes are located on the Southern Coast of Belize and easily accessible from Placencia or Hopkins.

10. Laughing Bird Caye

Location: Placencia or Hopkins

Best For: Snorkeling

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, Laughing Bird is one of the most popular inner reef destinations. Set on an elongated ridge of reef, Laughing Bird is surrounded by deep channels.

This long, narrow island is scattered with coastal mangroves, coconut trees and an abundance of marine life and coral habitats within the deep blue waters.

Experience encounters with a myriad of reef fish, southern rays, giant lobsters and furry sea cucumbers.

Named after the Laughing Gull, the island is also home to many exotic birds and thanks to local conservation, the Laughing Gulls are finding their way back home to their breeding grounds. Tours to Laughing Bird Caye are best organized from Hopkins or Placencia, located in South of Belize City.

11. The Arena

Location: Barrier Reef

Situated on the Barrier Reef near the storied and tiny Sergeant’s Caye, The Arena is a must-stop for Belize scuba diving, wall diving and spectacular night dives.

Nestled in the spur and groove formations of the reef you’ll discover tropical reef fish, pelagic mantas and Loggerhead Turtles.

By night, the bright eyes of the Large Eye Toadfish draw those looking for a unique experience.

Also, because of its location, a 40-minute boat ride from Belize City, dives here are so seldom that they are almost considered virgin sites.

12. Chasbo’s Corner

Location: Turneffe Atoll

Turneffe Atoll is Belize’s newest marine reserve.

At 30 miles long, 10 miles wide and 131,000 hectares, it is the largest of the three atolls and known to be the most biologically diverse atoll in America.

The northwest side of Turneffe Atoll is home to the magnificent Chasbo’s Corner, a unique site due to the sightings of various sharks, pods of dolphins, false orcas, manatee and seahorses.

Known by locals as “Mini Elbow”, the top of the wall lies at 45 feet and drops to a ledge at 180 feet.

13. Glover’s Atoll

Location: Glover’s Reef

Escape the crowds at Glover’s Atoll, a quieter remote atoll with 50 miles of fringing reef, lush coral, yellow tube and orange elephant ear sponges.

Stingrays and Eagle Rays play in the shallows and schools of Atlantic Spadefish, Jacks and Tarpon explore the deeper waters of Long Caye Wall.

A once in a lifetime experience is promised as you swim alongside Crustaceans on an Octopus Alley night dive or delve deep to the coral heads of “The Pinnacles”.

Boasting more than 700 patch reefs, Glover’s Atoll, nestled about 28 miles from the town of Dangriga, South of Belize City, is a world-class snorkeling and diving destination with over 15 dive sites within a couple hundred meters. 

14. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

Location: Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

Only 5 miles long and 1 mile wide, this scenic marine reserve is separated by “The Split”, a narrow seaweed free channel that is great for both swimming and snorkeling!

The motto here is “Go Slow”, so expect a slow-paced Caribbean vibe and an abundance of easily accessible snorkeling and scuba diving sites.

Only 30 minutes from Ambergris Caye, the marine reserve offers laid-back drift dives, steep walls and deep canyons. Surrounded by nature’s finest, you’ll experience a diverse marine life of lobster, shrimp and crab along with stunning Manta and Eagle Rays.

15. South Water Caye

Location: Caye Caulker

South Water Caye is a 15-acre coral island atop the barrier reef, part of the largest protected marine park in the country.

The almost perfect stretch of beach is lined with coconut trees, hammocks and spectacular views, a favorite amongst divers due to its close proximity to the reef, only a quick swim from the shore.

Here you will find a 12-kilometer section of reef, with deep waters, corridors of vibrant coral and great wall dives. A great all-round diving destination for all skill levels. The primary way of getting here is by boat, just 40-minutes from the town of Dangriga, located South of Belize City. 

BELIZE MARINE LIFE

The marine life is as diverse as it is colorful, with over 18 species of large pelagics such as rays and sharks, 5 species of turtles and the largest collection of groupers in the world. As you weave your way through the vibrant coral tunnels and reefs you will encounter some of nature’s finest ocean creatures. From bright clownfish and parrotfish to the rare white-spotted toadfish endemic to Belize, you’ll experience a world-class underwater adventure. Swim with the spectacular whale sharks from April to June or experience the beauty of the nesting sea turtles from June to August.

Belize is worthy of every traveler’s bucket-list! A scuba diving experience of lifelong picture perfect memories await, as you discover a palette of blues and underwater treasures in the shimmering Caribbean seas. Welcome to Belize!

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BELIZE DIVE SHOPS

There are many dive shops and operators to choose from on Ambergris Caye. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate day trip to explore the top dive sites in Belize or heading to our waters to complete your PADI dive certification, our local guides are waiting to show you the best of diving Belize.

Ecologic Divers Dive Shop

(501) 226-4118

Island Divers Belize

(501) 226-4800

(501) 633-4792

Scuba Steve Belize Diving

(501) 627-7338

Reef Adventures Dive & Tours

(501) 226-2538

Scuba Daze Belize

(501) 615-5843

Sea Star Belize Diving

(501) 226-3365

Unity Tours

(501) 600-5022

White Sands Dive Shop

(501) 226-2405

BELIZE FAQs

With a sub-tropical climate Belize is a year-round dive destination with optimal conditions between March and December.

The months of April to June fall within prime diving season and are the best months to experience a whale shark adventure so tend to be more costly and crowded.

June to November is the wet season, also known as the green season. Even though this is a low season for diving tourism, it is more affordable, less crowded and still offers optimal surface conditions.

Being located just outside the hurricane belt, watch for hurricane forecasts from June to November.

The majority of dive shops offer PADI training from beginner Open Water Diver to Professional Divemaster. A great way to learn in the Caribbean’s finest waters.

Absolutely! There is no need to dive to experience this awesome geological wonder, you can swim the calm waters on the rim of the sinkhole. A snorkel will open up an underwater world of color and beauty.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular diving destinations in Belize, with its close proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef, it is a diver’s heaven. In this once small fishing village, you’ll discover world-class snorkeling, spearfishing and over 35 stunning dive sites, some nearby and others a quick boat ride away. Our beachfront Belize vacation homes are the ideal base for your dive  vacation.