Conservation and protection of the natural resources is very important for the government and people of Belize. Proof of this is the designation of one of the most popular dive sites off Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan, a marine reserve. Strict supervision is in place and no fishing or removal of coral is permitted. Mooring buoys have been installed so that anchors may not destroy the coral.
Training is the basis of new regulation instituted by government this year
to improve the services guides render to tourists. To become a dive guide in
Belize, one first of all has to be Belizean, study to become a dive master,
work with an experienced dive master for a considerable period of time, know
the dive sites well, be versed in first aid and safety, and be of sound
The San Pedro Tourist Guide Association which is 175 members strong plays
a significant role in making sure that guides perform well, and guiding is
The basic San Pedro dive boat is an island built skiff in the 20 to 26 foot
range powered by twin outboard motors. These are fairly fast, traveling to
most dive sites within 15 to 20 minutes. Dives are usually done one dive in
the morning at 9:00 a.m. and another dive at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon. The
cost for these two dives, including tanks and weights, ranges between $45.00
to $55.00 U.S. for the two dives the same day. Dives are also arranged to
suit diver's schedules. Night dives at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve are
done regularly at a cost of$30.00 to $40.00 U.S. Most diving is done outside
the reef at depths ranging from 40 to 100 feet. Marine life is more abundant
in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve because it is protected and also because
the tidal currents bring nutrients to the area which attract a variety of marine
Eight professionally run dive shops serve the divers with clean air and well kept diving and snorkeling equipment. Dive instructors work out of these dive shops providing full PADI and NAUl certifcation, referrals for divers wishing to complete the open water certification, and "discover diving" for the snorkelers who dare taste the exciting world of scuba diving.
Scuba diving has come a long way in Ambergris Caye! Safety, protection of the natural resources and convenience to the diver are very important to our diving community. The government and people of Belize have decided that development of our tourist industry will be planned; it will grow slowly and gradually, never losing sight of the vital importance of protection of our precious reef and the dangers of over-development. But, please don't take my word for it, come check it out yourselves!
by Fidel Ancona
Editors Note: The offshore reef and its protecting of the inland sea around the island makes for extremely clear and calm water for diving. Most of the area inside the reef is 6-8 feet deep, and you can see more here with just a mask and/or snorkle than you can see most places while diving. In that mere 6 feet deep of water, there is an amazing diversity of marine life. Dolphins (very friendly), nurse sharks, rays, zillions of multi-colored fish of many varieties highlight a quick dip in the water around Ambergris Caye. Any novice can come here and be amazed, and then go to the dive shops and become an expert!
As a child said, "Its like Seaworld without the glass..."
Marty, ChiefNerd, AmbergrisCaye.com
For more information, follow these links:
Blue Hole Dive Shop
The Royal Piper, Norman Eiley
Coral Beach Hotel & Dive Club
Amigos del Mar Dive Shop
Diving the Atolls
Diving off Ambergris Caye and the Belize Barrier Reef
Ambergris Caye Barrier Reef
Map of Ambergris Caye Dive Sites
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