"How would the diving be?( That is the main reason I came here. I was tired of the San Pedro scene and the full dive boats.) We pulled up to the dock and I was welcomed to Thatch Caye and given a short tour. What a place! It was like paradise!"
The Atolls of Belize: Lighthouse, Turneffe and Glovers Atolls are all accessible as a day trip from the caye. These 3 atolls alone have almost 150 miles of divable walls, almost as much as the rest of the coast of Belize combined, and make for some spectacular diving.
Probably Belize’s most famous dive location due to the Blue Hole, but with stunning dives along the length of the atoll walls, this makes for an unforgettable days diving. The Blue Hole, made famous in 1978 by Jacques Costeau, is a sheer sided 430 feet deep hole filled with stalactites, stalagmites and the occasional shark. The Hole is our first stop followed by lunch on the nearby Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, famous as one of only 12 nesting sites for boobys and frigates in the entire Caribbean, and a second dive on the walls of this gorgeous atoll with a great chance of seeing schools of pelagic fish, eagle rays and grandly architectural coral formations. The Blue Hole is for Advanced divers only but the other dives on the atoll can be tailored for less experienced divers.
A chain of mangrove covered islands nearly 36 miles long, Turneffe offers very different diving from the rest of the barrier reef that makes Belize’s diving so renowned. The Elbow, undoubtedly the best dive on the atoll, is the confluence of several ocean currents and, when dived on high tide, brings in schools of fish looking for a meal as the water rushes in – a genuine drift dive with the potential to see something special! Other dives include one of the areas few wreck dives, the Sayonara, sunk some 20 years ago, now a magnet for all kinds of fish life and some great swim throughs along the length of Turneffes walls.
The closest of the atolls to the caye, just 18 miles away offers an opportunity to see some of the most unspoiled coral formations in the area. Coral heads, some as big as 60 feet high, reach for the surface with wrasse, snappers and groupers congregating around the sand channels that divide them. Again, wall diving with gentle drifting currents gives divers the opportunity to cruise over the area with minimal effort whilst enjoying the spectacle that nature has provided. Normally a three dive day, an early start gets us to the reef for the first deeper dive of the day, and after a break for refreshments, we get second dive in before lunch on one of the nearby cayes. After this we finish the day with a shallow dive before heading home tired but happy!
Down in the south of Belize, during the full moons of March through June, the biggest fish in the sea visits our reef to gorge themselves on the spawning of the snappers that accumulate here. Diving in the blue with these truly majestic creatures is an opportunity of a lifetime and should not be missed. Leaving after lunch to time our dives at the end of the day, the best time for the spawning, we have two dives to observe in awe these visitors to our waters.
A geological wonder, a cavern some 110 feet deep and covered with limestone karst formations, is just a 15 minute boat ride away from the caye. With our lights on we descend through the narrow opening into a chamber over 400 feet in diameter and begin our tour of the stalactites that adorn the walls. Approaching the end of the dive we begin our ascent, keeping our eyes open for the sharks that inhabit this hole, before doing our safety stop amongst schools of Atlantic Spadefish and jacks that call the Hole home. This dive is only for Advanced divers due to the depth.
The steepest section of the wall around South Water Caye, a vertical drop to around 150 feet gives us the chance to see whip and black corals not found elsewhere in the area. DescendingÂ slowly down the wall looking for the resident green moray eels nestled amongst the corals, together with several species of parrotfish and wrasse, looking down into the blue for the occasional passing shark, passing by the groupers hanging in the water. As the wall begins to ascend so do we before a safety stop over the sand flats that back all of the dive sites around this area, giving us a great chance to see eagle rays and turtles moving along the wall.
Starting at 80-90 feet and slowly ascending the coral wall throughout the dive, admiring the huge barrel sponges on the way, schools of jacks and spadefish congregate here, joined by barracuda and wrasse. The reef itself is a haven for smaller fish and shrimps, including the electric blue Pederson Cleaning Shrimp and the Banded Coral Shrimp. Inside the reef, in the sand flats behind the main wall, stingrays feed in the sand and jawfish excavate their tunnels.
Normally the second dive of the day, the wall comes to within 40 feet of the surface providing great light for photographers to practice their art. With almost no current this dive site gives us the chance to hunt for smaller species of fish and invertebrates that make their homes amongst the immaculate coral heads. Being so shallow divers can spend as long as an hour exploring for the occasional nudibranch or, even rarer, sea slug. This site is also known for it resident population of Caribbean Rays, up to 7 feet in diameter and a beautiful pale blue in color, these rays are a sight to behold.