As the saying goes, big things sometimes come in small packages. With Belize – the second smallest and least populated nation in Central America – this couldn’t be any truer as it packs a hemisphere’s worth of adventure within its borders. Located between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is the perfect destination for exploration, relaxation and romance. With more than 400 islands, white sandy beaches, the longest unbroken barrier reef in the western hemisphere and 298 kilometers/185 miles of coastline, Belize is a world-class scuba diving destination. When you’re not diving with nurse sharks, you can explore ancient Mayan ruins, visit rainforests, hike or go cave tubing. Explore Belize and you’ll experience something truly amazing.
- Ambergris Caye – Just offshore from the quaint village of San Pedro is Hol Chan Marine Reserve, one of the coolest dives in Belize. It’s a strictly enforced marine park situated at a deep cut in Belize’s barrier reef. Abundant marine life, healthy corals and throngs of grouper, snapper, barracuda and jacks will surround you here. At nearby Shark Ray Alley, you’ll leave dive gear behind and snorkel with – you guessed it – nurse sharks and stingrays.
- The Blue Hole – You’ve probably seen aerial shots of Belize’s signature dive. At more than 300 metres/1000 feet across and 135 metres/450 feet deep, this spectacular hole-in-the-reef dive is a day-trip away from most of Belize’s dive resorts. You'll be rewarded with a payoff that includes reef and bull sharks and fascinating stalactite and stalagmite formations.
- The Elbow, Turneffe Atoll – This site has a remote, pristine quality that makes you expect big animal action and stunning reefs. Done as a drift dive, the water movement attracts a variety of schooling fish like crevalle and horse-eye jacks. As you glide along the edge of the blue-water abyss on a sheer wall, look for barracuda, cubera snapper, Atlantic spadefish and several species of sharks.
- Long Caye Wall, Glovers Atoll – A top dive site where you’ll find very lush coral growing in reef gullies that lead to a sheer drop off. Look for deep-water gorgonians, yellow tube sponges and orange elephant ear sponges. Watch for schools of jacks, tarpon and Atlantic spadefish out in the deep blue. In the sandy shallows, you may find southern stingrays and eagle rays along with garden eels.
- Silk Cayes Canyon – South of Belize City, there are low patch reefs mixed with small coral outcrops that form interesting reef structures near the edge of the drop-off. There is a large variety of healthy hard corals and gorgonians. Strange gray triggerfish and reef sharks like to cruise this area.
- Stann Creek District – This is where the coast starts curving away from the barrier reef. This is also ground zero for whale shark encounters at sites off Gladden Spit. Southwater Caye Marine reserve contains patch reefs, drop offs and walls with coral formations that are amazingly beautiful.
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Visibility – Off the barrier reef and atolls, visibility is often 30 metres/100 feet or more, it’s slightly less inside the reef.
Water Temperature – The water is pleasantly warm during the summer at 30°C/85°F and a comfortable 26°C/79°F in winter.
Weather – The subtropical weather in Belize means it is warm year-round, particularly along the coast. A brisk sea breeze tempers the heat a bit during the summer. Air temperatures in summer range from about 24-29°C/75-85°F. Winter is cooler, with a daily low of about 21°C/70°F and a daily high of about 27°C/80°F.
Featured Creatures – Sea turtles nest on the sandy beaches from June to August. Whale sharks sightings are common from April to June along the southern barrier reef. There are about 70 types of hard corals and around 400 species of fish in Belize. Also, expect to see sharks, big schools of fish and rays.
Recommended Training – Take the PADI Boat Diver and PADI Drift Diver courses to prepare for drifting along the many walls and drop offs. The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course will help you stay off the coral and the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will allow you to get great shots of all the marine life that you see.
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Belize is the only Central American country with English as the official language. There are enclaves, however, where Spanish and Creole are spoken.
Currency – The Belize Dollar. Credit cards are accepted in many places.
Major Airports – Most tourists enter the country through Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, Belize’s primary international air gateway. Many then transfer to Belize City Municipal Airport to catch a domestic flight.
Electricity and Internet – Most electricity in Belize runs at 110 volts, 60Hz. There’s good internet connectivity in cafes and major hotels.
Topside Attractions – Visit the Mayan ruins. While jungle trekking, do some bird watching and try to identify some of the more than 500 bird species in Belize. Take a few hikes and explore the caves that dot the countryside, you can even go cave tubing in a few.