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Belize Liveaboard Diving

Explore the Iconic Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef

...Good for: Visibility, large animals, beginner divers and non-diver activities...
...Not so good for: Wrecks...

This small Central American country, boasting the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world and 3 of the 4 true atolls in the western hemisphere, has to be the jewel in the Caribbean diving crown.

Belize liveaboard diving at the Blue Hole - Image Copyright 2008 - Tony Rath/
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Picture-postcard tropical islands, wildlife-rich mangrove forests, stunning palm-fringed beaches, equatorial forests and a plethora of ancient Mayan ruins for you to explore, all make Belize a wonderful diving and holiday destination.

Colorful reefs with visibility often exceeding 130ft (40m), spectacular soft coral gardens, sponges and channel formations, and warm waters teeming with large and small fish, are what make Belize a premiere liveaboard diving destination. The easy diving conditions make this destination attractive to scuba divers of all experience levels and safari cruises here concentrate their regular itineraries around the magnificent atolls of Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Atoll.

Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Atoll

The highlight of a liveaboard diving tour in Belize is the Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole:

The world renowned Lighthouse Reef is the furthest atoll from mainland Belize. Great visibility all year round, fantastic wall crest diving and vibrant reef flats, critters galore, and of course the "bucket list" Blue Hole - being greeted by Caribbean reef and occasionally bull sharks add an extra dimension to this already spectacular dive site.

Steep drop-offs and walls plastered with huge gorgonians can be found all along the eastern and southern side of the atoll. But perhaps the key attraction are the jungle-like, swaying soft coral gardens that are cut with gullies and fissures and make ideal sites for divers to explore. Spotted eagle rays, barracudas and hawksbill turtles are frequently sighted at Half Moon Caye Wall and Que Brada. For more detailed information, visit our Lighthouse Reef website section.

Turneffe Atoll is the closest and largest of the 3 atolls located in Belize. Often ignored by the daytrip boats, the lagoon inside the 400+ mangrove covered islands that make up the atoll acts as an important nursery for reef fish such as snappers and groupers. It is also home to several pods of dolphins and manatees, which are sometimes seen on visits here. The surrounding waters are home to many of the larger fish species such as dog and cubera snapper, permits, horse eye jacks and black groupers.

The Elbow is the most popular dive site here with schools of spawning fish congregating in vast numbers off the wall. The sight of a slowly swirling wall of large fish is enough to put a smile on the most world-weary of diver's faces. Other sites include the Front Porch, a great place for underwater photographers to snap pictures of Turneffe's endemic spotted toadfish. For more detailed information, visit our Turneffe Reef website section.

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Diving Season

You can dive Belize all year round. April through June is the period generally regarded as the peak holiday season for divers. June through November is the rainy season but more than a short squall of rain is rare; it rains less offshore at the atolls than on the Belize mainland. Visibility is best in dry season when it can exceed 130 feet (40m), but it can drop to around 50-70 feet (15-20m) in rainy season. Water temperature hardly ever falls below 79°F (27°C) and reaches a high of 85°F (29°C) from August through October.

Northerly winds blow between November and February making surface conditions choppy at dive sites on the west of the atolls. During the rest of the year easterly trade winds blow bringing swells to the sites on the eastern and southern sides. The liveaboard boats simply switch to the leeward sides of the atolls when strong winds are blowing.

Turneffe Atoll in particular is a favored spot for fish to spawn. From January through July different fish species aggregate in vast numbers on the reefs, especially at The Elbow. Sea turtles nest at both Lighthouse and Turneffe atolls. June through November is when they nest at Lighthouse and July/August is the time you will see more loggerheads in the water at Turneffe.

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Where is Belize and How to Get There

Below you will find our maps of Belize and the world. More information on: how to get to Belize.

Map of Belize (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of the world (click to enlarge in a new window)

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Reef Summary

Depth: 16 - > 130ft (5 - >40m)
Visibility: 50 - 165ft (15 - 50m)
Currents: None to moderate
Surface Conditions: Calm but can be choppy during August through December
Water temperature: 77 - 84°F (25 - 29°C)
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: >60
Recommended length of stay: 2 weeks

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Useful References

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