Diving Ambergris Caye

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Scuba Diving Locations - Scuba Diving in South America
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 22:46
Diving Ambergris Caye can be an exhilarating experience when you Dive the islands best dive sites.

This small article will educate you on what dives you will want to be sure to Dive when you dive Belize, I will list some of the very best dives and some of my own personal favorites that you should include when you visit and dive the island of Ambergris Caye.

No matter where you stay on the island you should be able to dive all the dive sites I list here.

 

Ambergris Caye Dive Sites

The Amigo's Barge

The Amigo's Barge Can’t really be called a wreck as it is an old flat top barge but its still one of my favorite sites, and fantastic for photography, it is located in 70ft of water in front of Shark Ray Alley. It was sunk by Amigo’s Del Mar, a local dive operator and is named after them.

 

Amigos Barge
 
 

 

As you descend, you are literally surrounded by big groupers, lots and lots of Snappers and GUARANTEED Nurse Sharks. Unlike Shark Ray Alley, where it is only 8ft deep, at the wreck you will be able to get a shark silhouette shot and some great close-ups guaranteed, plus some amazing eye to eye encounters with some big groupers. It’s amazing that this barge has so much abundant marine life and is showing signs of coral growth.

 

 

Coral Growth
 

 

This is definitely one of Ambergris Caye’s best dives. The Wreck is now located in the marine reserve we ask that you conform to the marine reserve guidelines on all dives conducted in the waters of Belize to preserve and protect our resources for future visitor

Experience required: Intermediate

Depth: 60-80ft

Location: South Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Eagle Ray Canyons 

This site although not new has recently become known for regular sightings of spotted Eagle Rays. I recently dove this spot with some friends from Rodales Magazine. Steve, one of the dive masters, was guiding the dive and during his briefing guaranteed that we were going to see Eagle Rays, and was quite adamant about it. I asked him if he was sure because we now had some excited divers aboard who were expecting to see Eagle Rays and they would be disappointed if they didn’t. Steve assured me and down we went, sure enough after 15 minutes we saw our first 3 Eagle Rays, 5 minutes later we saw an additional 5 a lot closer this time. In addition to the Eagle Rays, lots of coral formations, spur and groove formation and the usual congregation of juveniles.

 

 

Eagle Rays

 

 

This is a Marine Reserve so nothing may be touched or taken, we ask that you are careful with your fins and avoid accidentally touching the reef.

Experience required: Intermediate 

Depth: 60-80ft

Location: South Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Hol Chan Cut

Hol Chan Cut

 

Another great site, this is a cut that allows passage through the Belize barrier reef to the open sea. Starting at 8ft and sloping down to a maximum of 25ft, this is an underwater wonderland with literally thousands of fish, including huge groupers and the biggest snappers you have ever seen. 

 

As you enter the cut there are a variety of small caves which hide huge Moray Eels over 6ft in length. Because this park is in a protected area the animal life is abundant. At the buoy, which marks the maximum you may enter into the channel, there is a small swim through cave which usually has a giant Dog Snapper lurking in the back part of the swim, though he casually watches as you swim through. He is a very scary looking fellow showing his big teeth, but the slightest movement toward him and he’s off.

 

This site is used as our primary night dive spot. At night it is totally different: lobsters, giant spider crabs, Stingrays, and on many occasions the odd lemon Shark has passed through. All in all this is one of the best sites for marine life found anywhere in the Caribbean.

 

Experience required: Intermediate due to strong current

Depth: 30ft

Location: South Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Pillar Corals

 

 

Pillar Corals

 

Hol-Chan Marine Reserve 7.5 square miles of protected habitat, makes for some great diving. One of our favorites is Pillar Coral, a 60ft dive with some wonderful Pillar coral formations, great for photography as during this dive there are resident grouper and Snappers that will follow you throughout the dive. It’s easy to position them around the Pillar corals giving the opportunity for some great pictures.

The site is protected and nothing dead or alive may be removed, gloves are not allowed to be worn in the marine reserve and there is an entrance fee to the park which is used to maintain the buoys and fund the ongoing research conducted at Hol-Chan marine reserve.

 

Experience required: Novice/Intermediate 

Depth: 60-80ft

Location: South Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

Cypress Gardens

 

Cypress Gardens

 

 

An excellent site for all types of coral species, such as huge Pillar Corals, Elkhorn, Stag horn and very abundant with small reef fish and critters. Located in 50ft of water, this has long been one of my favorite sites for the sheer quality of the coral formations and the superb Macro photo opportunities. This site focuses on smaller marine life associated with coral reef and is sure to be a hit with visiting divers.

 

Experience required: Novice

Depth: 40-80ft

Location: South Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

 

M&M Caverns

 

M&M Caverns

 

Located north of San Pedro town lie’s M & M Caverns one of Ambergris Caye’s best cavern dives. The underwater topography is deep spur and groove formations formed by the wave action over thousands of year’s, it is literally riddled with swim through and tunnels.

As you descend down to 90ft you see a small entrance going up through the reef as you enter you see a small light at the end of the tunnel about 40ft away, it is an awesome feeling as you swim literally through the reef to come out at 60ft then enter another, a totally different dive that’s always a hit with our visiting divers.

Experience required: Advanced

Depth: 80ft-120ft

Location: North Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

 

Love Tunnels

 

Love Tunnels
 

This site is located north of San Pedro and the site got its name as a couple got married in the mouth of this huge tunnel. At a depth of 60ft we swim through the tunnel that comes out on the edge of the drop off at approx. 90ft, due to the unseen approach we have spotted many large pelagic cruising the drop-off, as we exit the tunnel.

As we swim along the drop off you see many varieties of hard and soft corals and the usual juveniles and groupers that are abundant in these waters.

At all times you can see the surface as we swim through the caverns and it is quite safe for all levels of experience, as we near the end of our dive we enter another small cavern that takes us to our exit point, a real exciting dive that ’s a favorite with our visitors.

Experience required: Intermediate/Advanced

Depth: 70-100ft

Location: North Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

Happy Hours Reef 

 

Happy Hours Reef

 

Because this Belize site is a little out of the way of most dive operators it gets dived very seldom, which means lots of fish life and no signs of damage caused by divers. We particularly like this site as it has a lot of barrel sponges and is wonderful for macro photography due to the abundant small critters found at this site. Another observation we made at this site is at a certain time of the year we have noticed the coral spawning. This site is currently being studied by Professors from Texas AM University and is part of ongoing studied for the year of the reef.

Experience required: Novice/Intermediate

Depth: 60-80ft

Location: North Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat 

 

Shark Ray Alley

 

 

Shark Ray Alley

 

This is not a Dive Site but I thought I would include it as it is unique and usually included as a surface interval stop so you can snorkel with the sharks and rays. The picture was taken in 1991 when we first discovered this site and diving was allowed.

This is an unbelievable snorkel site similar to Caymans Stingray City except we have in addition to the resident Stingrays, 15 to 20 Nurse Sharks which means double the action. Located south of Hol-Chan Marine reserve, in only 8ft of water, this spectacular site is the only site in the world where you can interact with both Stingrays and Nurse Sharks.

So unique is this site it attracted the attention of Jean Michel Cousteau and Skindiver magazine, who have featured it on the cover page of Skindiver in 2 issues. Jean Michel told me that they are all female juveniles and it is most likely a nursing ground and kept in the area from years of fishermen cleaning their catch and discarding the scraps to the sharks. 

Most dive operators offer a complimentary stop at Shark Alley during surface interval the opportunity for photography is endless. 

The Nurse Sharks and Stingrays steal the show but the coral formations and other fish life is worth a mention. I visited Shark Ray Alley many times before I discovered the superb coral formations and dense fish populations. Remember to check them out when you visit Shark Ray Alley. 

Experience required: Novice

Depth: 8ft

Location: South Ambergris Caye

Type of Dive: Boat  Snorkel ONLY

 

I hope this short article will give you an idea of some of the excellent dives on offer when you dive Ambergris Caye. Be sure to visit my website for additional articles on Diving Belize and Travel Tips.

Dive Safe 

Gaz Cooper

www.DiveBelize.com


 

 
 

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