Underwater off the coast of Ambergis Caye

Sure, the Blue Hole may be the most famous single landmark (watermark??) off the Belizean coast, but that doesn’t mean that it has the best diving.  In fact, I’d argue that the diving just offshore along the reef is significantly better, especially when the transit time to and from the dive sites is taken into account.  Forget riding 2+ hours each way to get to a dive site.  The reef is literally minutes from any of the many docks along the shoreline.  The reef structure is still pristine, with coral fingers stretching for miles and clear, warm water all along the reef. 

We dove with Chuck & Robbies Diving and couldn’t have been happier with the operation.  If they weren’t running a particular trip (Blue Hole, for example) they’d make the necessary arrangements for us to get in on the other boat.  And the stuff the did operate was top notch.  They’re a relatively small operation so they max out with about 12 divers on the boat.  Another two or three folks from the shop would be in the water with us, spotting animals and otherwise making sure things went well.  I can’t recommend them as a dive operator highly enough.

Petting one of the nurse sharks on the reef
A spotted eel pokes its head out looking for a snack.
I’m a sucker for angel fish. I’ve spent entirely too much time and air chasing them underwater.
This eagle ray was absolutely stunning.

Another thing that the near-shore diving has going for it off Ambergis Caye is the Hol Chan Marine Park.  The park is guarded by marine patrols and very strictly monitored.  Yes, there is a surcharge for access but the operators work that into the package price so it doesn’t really matter.  And if the extra $10 is what it takes for the dive sites to be so well preserved I’ll take it every time.  Diving the Hol Chan Cut is an amazing experience.  The water is shallow – the dive maxes out around 30 feet – so there is plenty of bottom time available to swim with the turtles, rays, eels, fish and sharks that call the area home.  Depending on the currents the visibility can drop down a bit with silt in the water (also an effect of the shallow dive profile), but the animals are close enough that it doesn’t really matter.

One of many turtles, feeding on the grass in Hol Chan Marine Reserve
A crustacean, taking up residence in one of the many homes available.
Pretty fish & coral

I’ve been missing the diving pretty much since the moment we surfaced on that last dive.  With water this beautiful and so much marine life, all just minutes off the coast, it is easy to understand why.

Lots more photos from the diving in Belize – both at the Blue Hole and just off Ambergris Caye – can be found here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.