When I planned this group trip to Belize, I had visions of the Blue Hole and clear waters on the barrier reef off Ambergris Caye in my mind. I have to say, the reality of the diving in Belize really surprised me. First, I knew they had nurse sharks there but I never had any idea of how many. We literally saw dozens on some dives. The second thing that really shocked me was the eagle rays. I have never seen an eagle ray that was not afraid of people and swimming away. That includes many destinations in the Caribbean and all over the South Pacific. I saw at least a dozen and none was afraid. Most were close enough to get a photo of and see them clearly. That impressed me, a lot! Some swam so close you could nearly touch them.
Moray eels were in abundance too. The above picture is an eel on my fin as I was kneeling to take the photo. They were friendly and playful. I can only think that the dive masters in Belize don’t harass the big animals to the point of wanting to flee because they seem to actually enjoy interacting with divers. That is very unusual! The biggest down side to the diving was that because the barrier reef is just that – a barrier – the visibility was not as good as I thought it would be. There is surge against the reef that stirs things up. However, it did make for a great place for pelagics.
We did the Blue Hole & Lighthouse Atoll area one day. I had heard that the boat ride was long and brutal – it was! I had also heard that the 2 dives after the Blue Hole at Half-Moon Caye and Long Caye make the boat ride worth it – They do! We dove with Hugh Parkey’s at the Sunbreeze and their boat was bigger than a lot of them so that did help some but it is still a very long ride. The Blue Hole is cool but it is a do it once – check it off the list – type of dive. The other two dives were absolutely beautiful. We had planned to make another excursion to Turneffe Atoll but a broken boat side-lined that plan. Too bad, I would have loved to dive more of the Atolls.
The top-side activities on Half-moon Caye include a trip to the Red-footed Booby nesting site. They are found only in the Galapagos and here, on Half-moon Caye. The picture above clearly shows the red feet and blue bills that make them unique. It was a nice place for lunch and nature watching. On the whole, I waited a long time to dive Belize and am really glad I finally got to do it. Next time, I would either do a live-aboard or stay out at Turneffe so I can do more diving on the Atolls. However, that said, I think the trip to Ambergris Caye for diving was really worthwhile. The resort is very nice and dive operation is first rate. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. The eagle rays and nurse sharks alone made this trip worth it!