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Belize is well-known to divers for the world’s largest blue hole, but its diving scene also features amazing coral reefs and whale shark adventures. As the saying goes, big things sometimes come in small packages.

Highlights

Shark Ray Alley

Traditionally, this was where fishermen cleaned their catch. Nurse sharks and rays were attracted to the area and have been coming ever since.

The Blue Hole

The most famous of Belize’s dive sites, this strange geological structure welcomes divers inside its circular depths, reaching 400 feet (124m) deep.

Belize Barrier Reef

In addition to numerable Caribbean fish species, reef sharks and turtles, Belize’s barrier reef is home to the endemic whitespotted toadfish.

Whale Sharks

In Gladden Spit near Placencia, encounters with these graceful creatures while snorkeling or diving are all but guaranteed from April to June.

The Southern Coast

New dive areas are being discovered every year, and many are found on the southern coast. These hold as much promise as the north but half the divers.

Diving in Belize

Quick facts

Belize packs a hemisphere’s worth of adventure within its borders. Located between Mexico and Guatemala, this 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. While the Blue Hole is Belize’s best-known dive site, there’s much more to discover. The waters are rich, clear and warm, offering great conditions for beginners and some exciting diving for the more advanced diver. Plus, most dive sites are less crowded than other locations offering a similar standard of diving.

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.

When to go

Belize can be dived anytime. The subtropical weather means it is warm year-round, particularly along the coast. August to October is the wet season, while March to December are considered to have optimal conditions and marine life. 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. The water is pleasantly warm during the summer at 30°C/85°F and a comfortable 26°C/79°F in winter.

August to October

The wet season falls from August to October. These months tend to be the warmest with average temperatures around 82 or 84°F (28 or 29°C). The wet season also offers the best surface conditions, ensuring that all sites are accessible. Rainfall, while prevalent during these months, will only impact a few hours of the day. This means that most of the day will be sunny rather than rainy. More importantly, visibility may decrease due to runoff from nearby rivers.

October and November is grouper mating season. Thousands of these fish descend on the cayes to mate and give birth to their young.

August to October is considered low season for tourism and diving in Belize. However, the diving is only slightly impacted by the rain and many would argue that this is the best time to dive in Belize. You’ll find fewer crowds and the best deals during these months.

November to July

The drier of the two seasons is from November to July. These months bring slightly cooler temperatures above and below the water. However, temperatures will only drop by a couple of degrees and most divers are still comfortable in a shorty. Surface conditions can become choppy at this time, creating limited access to the more exposed sites. With that said, from November to July, you can expect little to no rain and excellent visibility.

April to June is considered the best time to dive in Belize. This is also high season so be prepared to see crowds at the Blue Hole and pay top dollar for your diving experience. April to June is also whale shark season in Placencia.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

The cayes and atolls are the most popular sites in Belize for all levels of diver. You may also wish to explore Placencia or the southern coast.
  • Ambergris Caye

    Ambergris Caye is the perfect location to access Belize’s best diving spots like the Great Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

  • Belize City

    Belize City juts into the Caribbean offering a convenient base for diving the Belize’s most famous locations like the Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole.

  • Caye Caulker

    The sleepy islands of Caye Caulker offer easy access to the fantastic diving in the Blue Hole and on the second largest barrier reef in the world.

  • The Outer Cayes and Atolls of Belize

    With the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere and access to the Blue Hole, the outer cayes and atolls of Belize are an easy diving paradise.

  • Placencia

    Home to predictable whale shark encounters and the southern barrier reef, diving in Placencia is quickly becoming a popular alternative in Belize.

USD 2,195Per trip
USD 2,140Per trip

Snorkeling in Belize

Pretty much anywhere along the coastline of Belize, you will be able to find excellent snorkeling opportunities. In particular, Ambergris Caye, Glover’s Reef and Lighthouse Atoll offer fantastic reefs to explore. You can even snorkel near the famous Blue Hole although you won’t find so much colorful marine life.
* 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.

What to see

There are about 70 types of hard corals and around 400 species of fish in Belize. Expect hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, giant jewfish, eagle rays, and nurse sharks. Sea turtles nest on the sandy beaches from June to August. Placencia draws whale sharks from April to early June. Although rare, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, lemon sharks, reef sharks and manatees are seen. Fish come in all the colors of the rainbow and include butterfly fish, angelfish, clown fish, parrotfish and even large barracudas and groupers. Critter-lovers will enjoy seeing seahorses and lobsters among the staghorn and elkhorn corals, and keep an eye out for the rare white spotted toadfish.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

As soon as you arrive in Belize, you’ll feel relaxed. This Central American country has a rich history, fascinating culture and beautiful natural environments. There are ancient Mayan archaeological sites to explore, cave systems, rich jungles and stunning beaches. Belize occupies a small coastal pocket of Central America bordering Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. It enjoys 175 miles of coastline lapped by the Caribbean Sea. The second largest barrier reef and several small islands lie off the coast, offering fantastic diving. Explore Belize, and you’ll experience something truly amazing.

Other attractions

Head to Cayo to explore mysterious ancient artifacts at Actun Tunichil Muknal and Xunantunich. San Ignacio is home to several interesting wildlife conservation projects, like the Green Iguana Conservation Project. And Belize City hosts several interesting museums. If you find yourself in the Cayes and Atolls, white sand beaches are a dime a dozen. Although in Guatemala, Tikal National Park is just 3 hours by road from Belize City and contains over 3000 Mayan ruins. Do some jungle trekking and try to identify a couple of the 500 bird species in Belize. Take a few hikes and explore the caves that dot the countryside. You can even go tubing in a few. Most importantly, wherever you find yourself in Belize, adventure awaits.

Getting there

Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport is Belize's main airport, located northwest of Belize City. Daily flights from North America, South America and Europe service this airport. In addition, buses, ferries, domestic flights from Belize City Municipal Airport and private taxis are available for traveling between destinations within the country.

UTC-06:00

Time zone

BZD

Currency

+501

Calling code

110 V / 220 V

Electric volt

A, 

B, 

G

Plug type

BZE

Main airport
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.