Scuba Diving Advice/Recommendations
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 11, 2012 4:18 PM Last Post By: khateffi
Oct 19, 2012 4:39 PM
Scuba Diving Advice/RecommendationsHello,
I'm looking for quality scuba diving experiences. Has anyone done scuba diving in Belize, and if so, how is it? I'm reading that it may be expensive due to transportation costs to get to scuba worthy sites, and that those sites aren't close to Caye Caulker. Also, the reviews on the diving there seem to be mixed. Does anyone have any experience they can share?
My main purpose in visiting Belize would be for scuba. If that is the case, what is your opinion. Is it worth it?
My main trip is going to center around Tikal, Cartagena, Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca. I would start in Belize if the scuba diving is worth it, but will probably skip it if it's not.
Oct 20, 2012 12:46 AM
1I founding the diving in Belize exceptional! The reef is well protected and is very much a live as a result. During most dives, expect to see nurse sharks, eagle rays, lobsters, tons of tropical fish amongst other sea life. There are dive sites within a 20 minute boat ride from S.P. I have not dove anywhere elze in Belize but have heard good things. The water is clean, beautiful and warm
The only other place I have dove is off Koh Tao in Thailand, and it pales in comparison to the vibrancy of Belize. So...YES...definitely worth it!
Oct 20, 2012 7:26 PM
2I went diving near Caye Caulker and did enjoy it. I think the quality of diving probably depends on what your previous diving experiences are & what your expectations are.
I was/am a pretty novice diver who had gotten PADI certified in Koh Tao and was looking forward to Belize for my first dives post-certification. I dove with Belize Diving Services (very professional, well-organized, great equipment and boat) and had a very good experience (although I've heard that other dive shops may be cheaper at times). I saw lots of marine life, including sea turtles in addition to what was previously mentioned. I stayed nearby local barrier reef sites (i.e. prob 1 hour or less boat ride from caye caulker) and dove for a couple days including a night dive. One awesome experience was on one dive day where my divemaster used a spear gun to catch lionfish (an invasive species that preys on local marine life) and we later fed the lionfish to nurse sharks & rays while we snorkelled b/t dives (may not be a standard experience, but I thought it was great).
Further dives available from caye caulker go to various turnafees, plus there's the blue hole. I had been interested in going to the blue hole, but since I wasn't advanced certified to go deeper & to be able to cave dive, I decided not to go. I heard that you could go on the trip out even if not advanced certified, but since you can't go down as deep, I heard it wasn't as great of an experience. It can be a rather pricey trip too.
If it helps at all, I chatted with more experienced divers who were diving on the days I dove. One guy owned his own dive shop in the Caribbean for years. He said his favorite dive spot was in the Caymans. Another guy had been a divemaster in the Mediterranean. Both had dived in many locations around the world (including some that were likely better than Belize), but since they were diving with me that day, had obviously decided at some point that it was worth diving in Belize as well.
I though Belize was worth diving at, but again, I think it depends on what you're looking for and what quality of diving you'd be comparing it to.
Oct 22, 2012 7:36 PM
3Thank you for your detailed reply, it was helpful. The only place I've been scuba diving was in Mexico, and that's where I got OWD and Advanced certifications. Scuba in Mexico was pretty fantastic, but the experiences you mentioned sound just as nice. It just may not be logistically as easy to do. When you say you stayed nearby on a local barrier reef site, where is that? Was it expensive to get boat transportation to the site?
Oct 28, 2012 5:26 PM
4I went diving in Belize in Tobacco Caye (30 minutes from Dangriga) and saw amazing marine life! It was not that expensive because you just catch a boat from Dangriga (go to the Riverside Cafe and ask when the next boat is leaving - usually daily around 1pm), and all the resorts on Tobacco are inclusive of meals - I paid $80 Belize (40 USD) for my own room and 3 meals per day. Eric is the Dive Master on the island and he is fantastic and really knows how to have a good time! Each dive with Eric was $110 Belize (55 USD) but from Tobacco you can also go out snorkeling right from the shore since its on the reef. Tobacco Caye is the most underrated island ever - and thats why its so great, because few people know about it.
Oct 29, 2012 3:22 PM
5Oh, just to clarify when I said I stayed nearby the local barrier reef system, I meant that as in when I went diving, I only went to dive sites that were nearby Caye Caulker vs. going to the farther dive sites (like the Turneffes and atolls and blue hole) which require a longer boat ride and are more expensive. I've heard great things about the further sites and that they were worth doing, they just didn't have any trips scheduled for the few days that I was diving (was there in semi-low season at the end of Aug/beginning of Sept) so I didn't get a chance to go. Pretty much, I don't think I got to experience the most intensive diving experiences possible in Belize, yet I still highly enjoyed my experiences.
If it's helpful, Belize diving services mentions some of the dive sites on their website and also has a price list (renting equipment is extra per day, though some other dive shops will include the cost):
Again, I was pretty happy with my dive experiences, but I also didn't go in with extremely high expectations or much diving experience to compare it to. I stayed at Caye Caulker at Yuma's guest house (dorm beds) and was only on the island for 3 full days + half days around it. I dived for two days (5 dives total including 1 night dive) and then went on a night snorkeling trip on my last day. I was happy overall with my time there and all that I did.
Some other notes:
-other places have private rooms for the same price as dorm beds at Yuma's guest house (if that's of interest); however, I did enjoy the social atmosphere of the hostel & met friendly people that I hung out with on the island
-other dive shops probably have cheaper prices / may be negotiable for pricing. Friends from the hostel who were more experienced divers wanted to go on a night dive too and ended up going w/ a different dive shop since it was cheaper and didn't charge more for renting equipment. I just wanted to go to a place that could provide more guidance during diving & where i wouldn't need to trouble-shoot w/ equipment (i.e. a place where customer service is valued, which I wouldn't necessarily care about for an activity where I am more skilled)
-the night dive was fun, but what you can see is similar to the night snorkel trip (which is cheaper) since you're so shallow anyway (~10 m)
Caye Caulker as an island was fun since it was more laid back / backpacker-oriented than I think San Pedro / Ambergris Caye. It's not what I'd truly call "off the beaten path" though. For me, that was helpful since there's enough infrastructure to make things convenient (frequent water taxis, restaurants inc $12 lobsters!, hostels, plus easy to get to the airport) and not too expensive compared to other places in the area.
If you're very serious about diving & would probably be diving for more than a few days, it could be worth it to explore the other locations available even though they potentially might be a bit less convenient to get to. I know when I was looking into Belize initially, I looked at staying on Glover's Atoll, which seemed more deserted and sounded great (camping is an option there, I think). However, I think it's only worth it if you stay there for a week since they only have a boat going to and from the site once an week and a private boat for other times was $$.
fyi, I loved my trip to belize overall. In one week, I went near San Ignacio and went to the ATM cave (very fun) and also went to Tikal in Guatemala in addition to diving.
Hope this helps!
Edited by: ceruleanblue
Oct 29, 2012 4:00 PM
6Maybe do some research on diving at Isla Coiba in Panama....?
Nov 11, 2012 4:18 PM
7Thanks cerulean, this is really helpful information and will help me to focus my attention. Since I may be traveling solo, and for this portion of the trip the diving is my main priority, I don't mind too much if I'm not too far off the beaten path. I can experience that in other parts of the trip. I'll check into the varying dive shops and the guest house as well, I enjoy getting to meet and hang out with other travelers.
Australian, I've decided to narrow the focus to diving in Belize and Honduras. If I go anywhere else, I'd probably just have to pick one place due to time restrictions. I'll check into diving in Panama. Or, going to Tikal. I'd have to pick between the two, so we'll see what makes the most sense.
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