Nestled on the western edge of the Caribbean Sea lies the “gateway to Central America,” the unspoiled beauty of Belize. With the second largest barrier reef in the world, reef diving in Belize is something every diver should have on their to-do list.
The Belize barrier reef stretches for nearly 140 miles along the coastline, and is home to dozens of species of fish and corals. Hawksbill, loggerhead, and green turtles swim in these temperate waters, along with dolphins, rays, jellyfish, and seahorses, to name a few. There are even whale sharks and manatees. This region is home to many colorful corals like elkhorn, stag, and brain coral, while delicate sea fans slowly wave in the currents amid these vibrant living creatures.
There are also three atolls to visit when reef diving in Belize. There are the Turneffe Islands, a 30-mile long by 10-mile wide spit of land populated with mangrove trees. The southern tip of this atoll offers the best diving, and there are large meadows of seagrass in these waters.
Glovers Reef features a well-defined reef visible from the surface, making this an excellent choice for snorkelers and shallow water divers. Lighthouse Reef is the smallest in Belize, at 78 square miles, yet boasts one of the most amazing sights of them all: the Great Blue Hole. Located in the center of Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole plunges more than 400 feet down and it considered one of the premiere dive sites in the world.
You needn’t worry about any language barrier here. Belize is the only Central American nation where English in the primary language, softened by a relaxed Caribbean lilt. The weather is divine year round, with average highs of the mid-80s in summer, and rarely dipping below 60 in the winter, with a rainy season occurring in the latter half of the calendar year.
Even in the wetter months, that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying reef diving in Belize. Water temperatures range between 70 to low 80s all year, and visibility is 50 to 150 feet, though there is some reduction in the stormier winter months.