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.