Written by Scuba Instructors ~ DIVE.in's Complete Guide to:

The Best Diving in Belize

Weather in Belize

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Belize

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

Belize dollar (‎BZD)
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Language

Belizean Creole
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The authors:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

With warm air and water temperatures, clear waters, and calm skies, scuba diving is one of the Beliz' top attractions.

Apart from the teeming tropical waters filled with diverse coral species, thriving reefs, there are also some of the most famous dive sites in the world. Divers from across the globe flock to see the Great Blue Hole.

Beliz borders Mexico on the northwest, Caribbean Sea on the East, and Guatemala on the South and West. Belize has a fascinating history as the Maya Civilization spread to this area of the world between 1500 B.C. and 300 A.D where it flourished until about 1200.

 

Diving in Belize

For people who have travelled and dived Belize before, they know that there are an abundance of spectacular sites and it is difficult to compile just one list of the best dive sites off this coast. However here is Divein’s list for the top dive sites in Belize!

The 9 Best Dive sites in Belize?

Sort this list to fit your scuba level and wishes

Recommended Level:


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Dive Type:


  1. Slope
  2. Pelagic
  3. Megafauna
  4. Wall Dives
  5. Coral Reef
  6. Shore Dive
  7. Boat
  8. Snorkel Friendly
  9. Sharks
  10. Macro
  11. Coral Garden
  12. Current
  13. Sandy Bottom

Show only the very best:


  1. Yes
  2. No

Blue Hole Natural Monument

To start off this list, it makes sense to include the best-known dive sites in the world is the Great Blue Hole of Belize. The Great Blue Hole is a giant marine sinkhole near Lighthouse Reef around 70km from the mainland. It stretches 1030 ft / 314m across and descends to a depth of 442 ft / 135m. The Belize Barrier Reef is also an impressive collection of coral reefs stretching along 186 miles / 300km of the coast of Belize. IT was decreased a world Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 to help protect the vulnerable marine ecosystems.

  • Most famous blue hole in the world
  • Jacques Cousteau introduced this phenomenal destination in March 1971
  • Located on one of the four true atolls outside the Indo-Pacific Region

What you will see:

This marine sink hole is circular with steep walled depressions showcasing a dramatic contrast of dark blue deep waters and the turquoise of the shallow reefs around. Due to the minimal water circulation, the conditions in the blue hole are anoxic in a depth. This means there is not much sea life you would expect to see on Coral Reefs, but instead a large number of bacteria. The blue hole dive is more of a fascinating underwater topography dive, rather than one to see marine life.


Intermediate Advanced Slope Boat Snorkel Friendly Our Favorite

Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

Typically, this is the dive site most operators head over to after taking divers for their first dive at the Great Blue Hole. The Half Moon Caye Wall stretches several hundred kilometers and features some of the most beautiful and colorful coral in the world. The visibility is easily over 20 meters, with clear days providing ample sunlight and color to a depth of 30m.

  • Half Moon Caye is a bird sanctuary
  • Great Place for a surface interval and mini hike to explore the island
  • Fantastically vibrant coral

What you will see:

Once you start diving on the gentle sandy slope which continues from the beach of the island, you will descend to 42 ft / 13m. There the reef wall drops down to 98 ft/ 30m where you will begin to see hidden tunnels filled with yellow and bright blue sponges, impressive lilac sea fans, barrel sponges, hard coral coverages, and reef fish hiding among the reef structures. You will also see sea grass and garden eels poking their heads out from the sandy bottom.


Beginner Intermediate Megafauna Wall Dives Coral Reef Boat Sharks Macro

Glover’s Atoll

Glover’s Atoll is the center of the Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve that was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. The relative isolation of this atoll and the clarity of the surrounding oceanic waters means coral has managed to establish itself at depths reaching down to 300 ft. Glover’s atoll has over 700 patch reefs surrounding the central lagoons with six privately owned cayes, a Wildlife Conservation Society research station, and accommodation options on others. The water visibility remains clear year-round, due to the minimum sedimentation or pollution coming from the coast, with fresh, clean water rising up from the surrounding ocean floor at 2600 ft.

  • Isolated Atoll boasting fantastic visibility
  • Incredible range of marine life visiting this sanctuary in the ocean
  • Boat transfers to a beautifully isolated resort on the cayes are available

What you will see:

Manta Rays are one of the highlights for divers on any dive at Glover’s Atoll. These mega giants can have a wingspan of almost 30ft / 9m and glide effortlessly through the blue water. Eagle rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and reef sharks are other common megafauna you will be able to spot on these dives. When diving one of the many reefs, you will find your dives featuring fantastically colored tube sponges, massive gorgonian fans, sea fans, staghorn coral, soft corals, all surrounded by healthy populations of reef fish. Many of the reefs have shallow sections which snorkelers can enjoy and attempt to snap some photos of parrot fish, octopus, or butterfly fish.


Beginner Intermediate Megafauna Wall Dives Coral Reef Boat Sharks Macro Our Favorite

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

The Hol Chan is Mayan for little channel and is passage to the outer edge of the Belize Barrier Reef, it is where all boats need to pass to avoid hitting coral. Since 1987 at the creation of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, there are strict guidelines and rules for boaters to ensure the protection of this beautiful area. Boats are not allowed to anchor, visitors must not touch coral, and no fishing is permitted in this area. The protected area encompasses almost 5 square miles and is now the home to thriving marine life and gorgeous coral.

  • Strong currents are prevalent
  • Outer Reef Dive Sites
  • Protected Marine Reserve with spectacular marine life

What you will see:

The aggressive and consistent protection of this area means divers can expect to see long strands of thriving elkhorn coral. Among the colorful coral reefs, you will see hundreds of jacks schooling, reef fish hiding in the coral, massive grouper swimming around, snapper, and barracuda hanging just off the walls.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Boat Coral Garden Current

Shark Ray Alley

If you want a bit of a break from diving or want to bring your non diving friends and family to an experience they will never forget, then head over to Shark Ray Alley. This is a shallow sand plateau on the inside wall of the Belize Barrier Reef where fishermen would stop to clean their catches. The discarded fish guts attracted tens of nurse sharks and fevers of sting rays. Now, dive and snorkel guides play the part of fishermen and drop fish scraps to lure the animals in.

  • Large collection of sharks and rays
  • Dive guides attract animals through fish guts
  • Shallow and snorkel friendly

What you will see:

This popular hot spot for harmless nurse sharks and plenty of small rays will have you swimming among the teeming fish in shallow, warm, and clear water. As soon as the sharks and rays hear boats approaching, they gather at the shallow sandy patch. The animals do approach quite close, so some people might find this interaction with sharks a little unnerving.


Beginner Coral Reef Snorkel Friendly Sharks Sandy Bottom Our Favorite

Turneffe Atoll

Three of the four true Atolls in the world are found in the waters off Belize and provide divers with spectacular diving opportunities. An Atoll is a circular version of a barrier reef, with a coral rim that encircles a lagoon fully or partially. They are born from volcanic activity and attract a massive range of marine species. In Belize, Turneffe, Lighthouse, and Glovers are the meccas of diving where visitors can be right out in the ocean with diving on their own doorstep. One of the biggest pros of these atolls are that the waters surrounding the reef typically drop almost to 3000 ft. These big depths are a massive draw from megafauna and stunning vertical walls. Turneffe is Belize’s newest protected marine area stretching 30 miles in length, and 10 miles in width with every part a prime destination for diving and snorkeling. You can reach it by boat and stay on the atoll itself for maximum enjoyment.

  • Unique and diver centered destinations on the Reef
  • Spectacular wall dives which attract megafauna from depth
  • Range of pinnacles, canyons, swim-throughs all covered in pristine coral

What you will see:

Exquisite range of corals growing among the unique topography of crevasses, swim throughs, and arches that divers can spend hours exploring. The size of the Atoll means that even if you travel and stay on the atoll, every day of diving will show you a new dive site with spectacular creatures. Sea turtles, reef sharks, reef fish, and schools of pelagic are all common to be seen on most dives.


Intermediate Advanced Slope Pelagic Megafauna Wall Dives Coral Reef Shore Dive Boat

Ambergis Caye

The largest of the cayes that are scattered along the coastline of Belize is located a convenient 20-minute plane ride from Belize City. It’s a great little island from where many dive shops depart to the hundreds of dive sites in the Belize Barrier Reef. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a short boat ride away, along with plenty of reefs with unique and breath-taking coral formations.

  • Great Dive destination for many unique dive sites
  • Close proximity to the Giant Blue Hole
  • Minimal current ideal for beginner divers

What you will see:

Thriving coral reefs including soft and hard corals, plate corals, sea fans, and gardens of elkhorn coral. There are also plenty of reef sharks, several species of turtles, hundreds of schooling fish and the endemic white spotted toadfish.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Boat Coral Garden Current

South Water Caye Marine Reserve

One of the largest marine reserves in Belize is located on the southern border. The South Water Caye Marine Reserve is just 10 miles / 16km off the coast of Belize and covers 7 miles / 12km of the barrier reefs. Here there are plenty of spectacular wall dives boasting incredible marine biodiversity. It was established in 1996 and covers 47,700 hectares of coastal and mangrove ecosystem. This entire area now has thousands of species, some of which are unique to this part of the world.

  • 7 miles stretch of marine reserve with beautiful reefs and marine animals
  • Pelagic fish are found in great numbers on the outer walls
  • Whale sharks are found in large numbers during grouper and snapper mating season

What you will see:

The range of spectacular wall dives will provide divers with the opportunity to test their photography skills on the many macro creatures hiding in the colourful coral. Divers will also can look into the blue and spot many species of sharks, schools of tuna, barracuda, and gracefully swimming rays. The deeper sections tend to attract larger creatures, so make sure you are advanced certified for a better chance to see sharks!


Intermediate Advanced Slope Pelagic Megafauna Wall Dives Coral Reef Our Favorite

Gladden Spit

Whale sharks are another one of the most prominent diver attractions in Belize, where you can explore the fantastic reef sites along with dives with the biggest fish in the sea. Placencia is in southern Belize leads daily boat trips to Gladden Spit which is 26 nautical miles east of Placencia. It is worth having an advanced certification, as currents can sometimes be prevalent and swimming along with these massive creatures can be quite exhausting. Make sure to check the full moon times to ensure you do not miss diving with these majestic creatures.

  • Encounters with whale sharks in their natural habitat
  • Monthly full moon cycles attract the biggest fish in the sea
  • Great opportunity for divers and snorkellers

What you will see:

The Gladden spit is a spawning site for many tropical fish including cubera, mutton, and dog snappers which create massive clouds of spawn every full moon. Whale sharks love eating this tasty treat, therefore come to this part of the coast for every such event. Whale sharks are spectacular ovoviviparious fish growing to lengths of 60 feet, with incredibly thick back skin, and fantastic camouflage in deep water. Very little is known about their mating and breeding habits, with all the knowledge in the world based off one pregnant female which was caught in the Philippines. She had 300 pups swimming in her belly ranging from 12 – 24 inches long. These are born alive and hypothesised to be released by the mother when she feels it’s safe.


Intermediate Slope Pelagic Megafauna Wall Dives Coral Reef Boat Sharks

Diving any of these dive sites in Belize will give you an insight to how healthy and vibrant coral reefs can be. The numerous marine parks and stringent regulations have allowed the marine reserves to flourish, and biodiversity to remain high and thriving. If you have travelled and dived Belize, let us know which of the above dive sites was your absolute favourite.

Best Time to Visit Belize

The best time to visit this beautiful coastal nation is during the country’s dry season which ranges from Late November to Mid-April. The temperatures typically stay between a comfortable 75 °F degrees Celsius and reaching 80 °F 27 degrees Celsius in July. If you do travel further inland and gain elevation around the Mountain Pine Ridge, then the temperatures do decrease considerably. It is worth packing a range of clothing including sun, and mosquito protection.

The downside of traveling during this time is that thousands of tourists plan their travel holidays to avoid rainy and hurricane season. Therefore, if you do plan to travel in peak season, make sure to book your accommodation and flights well in advance to get the best deals.

Activities in Belize

The climate, Belize Barrier Reef and over 450 offshore Cays and Islands attract almost a million tourists every year. Belize has put an emphasis on ecotourism in the recent years, leading tours to various jungles, wildlife reserves, scuba diving, snorkeling, bird watching, and hiking trips. Belize also has the largest cave system in Central America for people who love to adventure and explore.

There are also a range of fancy resorts that offer relaxed atmosphere, cocktails on the beach, helicopter tours and more. Of course, if you are a history buff and want to learn about the Maya culture, there are plenty of well-preserved sites you can tour. Recent studies and analyses have lead to new discoveries about the center of Maya Civilisation was Belize, where there are hundreds if not thousands of undiscovered ancient Mayan Temples, towns, and cities.

What are your favorite dive sites in the Belize? Did we miss anything important? Drop us a comment below and let us know why you love diving in the Belize!
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THE AUTHORS:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

Torben Lonne

Scuba Instructor and editor

Torben has a huge passion for Scuba diving and traveling. He's also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of divein. 

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