Scuba Diving in Belize
Home to famous dive sites and unique above-water adventures, Belize is an ideal vacation spot for divers and non-divers alike. The diving experience in this tropical location is unlike any other, with opportunities to see whale sharks, whitespotted toadfish and one of the largest barrier reefs in the western hemisphere. Strap on your flippers, we’re heading to Central America!
If you’re visiting from the U.S. (or most other countries), you will need a passport in order to enter Belize.
Belize’s main airport is the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA), located on the outskirts of Belize City.
While neither Uber or Lyft operate in Belize, there are plenty of options for getting around once you arrive. Cars, taxis, shuttles, buses and even planes are readily available!
Many roads are unpaved and unmarked in Belize so if you do rent a car, be very clear on where you’re going and how to get there. Typically shuttles and buses are the most practical way to get around.
Good to Know
Belize is a country in Central America.
Time zone: Central Standard Time
Keep in mind, Belize does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
Primary language: English
Currency: Belize dollar; however, the U.S, dollar is also widely accepted. Credit cards (specifically Visa and Mastercard) are also commonly accepted.
Please note: You are not allowed to fly to or from Belize with more than $5,000.
Phone and internet: Phone service is available from U.S. phone carriers (just be sure to check with your carrier on roaming rates first). Internet is easy to find, with most hotels and restaurants offering WiFi to guests. The international calling code is +501.
Voltage: 110 V (similar to that of the U.S. and Canada).
Hurricane season in the BVI runs from June to November, peaking from August to October.
As of January 2019 there is a Level 2 Travel Advisory for Belize. Check travel.state.gov for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
A Level 2 travel advisory means you should exercise increased caution in this area.
Top Dive Shops in this Country
Water temperature ranges from 79 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 85 degrees in the summer.
Average water visibility is 80 to 100 feet.
When to Go
You can scuba dive in Belize year round.
You’re most likely to see marine life from March to December, but if you’re looking for whale sharks, your best bet is to visit from April to June.
Peak season for tourism in Belize is from November to April.
What You’ll See
Divers will be delighted by the plentiful marine life, including sharks, seahorses, turtles and dolphins. Not to mention, Belize boasts the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere!
Best Scuba Diving Sites in Belize
One of the best spots to see Belize’s famous barrier reef is at Ambergris Caye, only a half mile from the barrier reef itself. Divers will enjoy up to 150ft of visibility as they take in the plentiful staghorn, elkhorn and brain corals along the walls of the reef. You’ll see marine life such as colorful fish, reef sharks and turtles. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the whitespotted toadfish—it can only be seen in Belize! Very little current passes over the reef, so it’s perfect for beginners. It’s also a great spot to travel with non-divers, as it offers jet skiing, sailing and windsurfing.
Hol Chan Cut
About 4 miles south of San Pedro, you’ll find the Hol Chan Cut. This area has been fiercely protected by conservancy groups, leading to an abundance of coral and a dense population of fish—from barracuda to snappers. Depth ranges from 30ft to 100ft at this site, making it suitable for beginners and advanced divers. At times, the currents here can be very strong, so be sure to check with local experts to find out if it’s safe to dive during your visit.
At the southern tip of the Turneffe Atoll, you’ll find The Elbow, named for a giant twist in the coral that dwells there. Thanks to strong currents surround this area, divers will often see giant schools of fish as well as horse-eye jacks, eagle rays, nurse sharks and more. At a maximum depth of 70ft, this site is best for intermediate divers.
The Blue Hole
This signature site will check off a bucket list item for many avid divers. Approximately 60 miles off the coast of Belize City, this famous dive site is home to a gaping underwater sinkhole, measuring 984ft in diameter with a depth of over 400ft. Divers will get to travel down 130 ft, admiring the stalactites that formed there when the area was above water. Although the dive is dark, it provides the opportunity to see marine life such as parrotfish, angelfish, reef sharks and turtles. Due to its extreme depth, only experienced divers should attempt this dive!
Best Snorkeling in Belize
Shark Ray Alley
Just one mile south of the Hol Chan Cut, you can snorkel in Shark Ray Alley. For years, fishermen would clean their catch in this spot, attracting an overwhelming amount of sharks to the area. Today, snorkelers can enjoy swimming with sharks and stingrays at this site. (Can you say “photo-op?!”) Its depth of 4ft to 8ft makes it a good spot for snorkelers of all levels.
Tres Cocos is a gorgeous snorkeling site just a short boat ride from San Pedro. Snorkelers will witness large masses of elkhorn and brain corals at this location, along with flounders, crabs, stingrays and more. There can be considerable currents in this location, but with depths as shallow as 4 ft, it’s generally suitable for all levels of snorkelers.
Discover Unique Things to Do in Belize
Not much of a hiker? See Belize’s jungles and natural wonders on horseback! Often offered through resorts and tour companies, horseback excursions are a unique and memorable way to see the beauty of Belize!
Fly Over the Blue Hole
See the Blue Hole from a whole new vantage point! You can book helicopter rides over this seascape to take in its size and beauty. Snap a few photos to show the family back home just how massive the dive site is!
In Belize City, you can find cave tubing excursions that are fun for the whole family. You’ll float through mysterious, awe-inspiring caves, while enjoying the backdrop of Belize’s rainforests as you make your way down the river.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to check out Belize’s Cayo District. Home to ancient Mayan ruins, you’ll travel back in time as you wander through this incredible site. Don’t forget to visit the butterfly gardens and catch the sunset on your way out!