Diving Belize | Lighthouse Reef and the Blue Hole

Divers are attracted to Belize as it's coastline is paralleled by the Great Western Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world and the only barrier reef in the Caribbean. Both the shallow, coastal fringing reefs and more distant off-shore atolls are surrounded by dive sites with a mix of gentle, open reef mounds and steeper drop-offs. These are often characterised by sharp channels that cut through the reef rim.

Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Atoll
Surrounded by pretty dive sites, these atolls are full of marine life. Pastel-hued sea whips, rods and plumes decorate the surfaces, sponges can be enormous and often reveal brighter shades if you shine a torch on them. Pelagic fish like tarpon and barracuda are common while smaller fish add splashes of colour. Turtles, reef sharks and several species of large ray make occasional appearances.

The Blue Hole
The most famous dive is, of course, the Blue Hole on Lighthouse Reef. It gained some notoriety through the Jacques Cousteau documentary and is now heavily hyped. The hole is over 300 metres across and drops to around 150 metres deep. It was believed to have been a cave whose roof fell in at the end of the Ice Age. At around 40 metres there is a shelf with ancient stalagmites to back up this theory. Apart from this geological feature, the dive is surprisingly lifeless but as the area is visited by grey reef sharks, dive operators now use bait to ensure their presence. As you ascend for a safety stop they circle divers hoping for further handouts.

Indigo Hamlet
Belize dive photo gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life Eagle rays
Giant tarpon
Indigo hamlet
Top dive site The Blue Hole
Seasons All year but typhoons hit in September
Visibility 10 – 40 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Ambergris Caye
Flights to Belize City
Information many options on Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye and Turneffe Atoll.

PROS and CONS - Belize is easy to reach if you fly via the US. Transfers to coastal resorts or liveaboards are straightforward. There is a good variety of accommodation in all price ranges. More advanced divers may feel the diving isn't adventurous enough and that there is little variety along these reefs, but it pays to get a book to study all the fish species as there are far more than most divers recognise.

SCUBA DIVING - Belize diving is generally easy and relaxed. Apart from the Blue Hole, dive sites are not particularly deep, currents mostly light and boats can access both sides of each atoll to avoid any winds or rough seas. The reefs may not be as colourful as the Pacific or Asia but there are over 430 fish species.

OPINION - The relaxed pace of diving across Beize is what makes a palce to return to gor us. We have dived both from resorts and a liveaboard and recommend a liveaboard for Lighthouse Reef but there are good resorts on Ambergris Caye and Turneffe Atoll. The Blue Hole is a 'must do' at least once in your life, but we have been disappointed both times we have done it as divemasters limit time more than is necessary and shepherd divers around in bunches, which spoils the ambience somewhat. Maybe next time...
Complete reports on this area are in
Diving the World.

Order the book direct from SeaFocus here.

The digital edition is on iTunes.