Belize Diving Holidays: An Overview

Belize may be best known for its barrier reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world and home to the iconic Blue Hole, but there is much to discover in this tiny corner of Central America, from its friendly and relaxed people to ancient Mayan ruins and rainforest jam-packed with exotic beasties.

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Neill and Louisa are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • The world-famous Blue Hole is high on many divers' bucket list, and rightly so - it's spectacular.
  • You have a great chance of whale shark sightings at Gladden Spit at the right time of year.
  • The cayes offer white sands, blue seas and some world-class hotels.
  • Inland there is much to explore both in terms of culture and wildlife making this a great all-round destination.

Our Guide to Belize Diving Holidays

Belize has come late to tourism. A British colony until 1981 with a disputed Guatemalan border, the country only really achieved political stability in 1998. As a consequence, much of it is still untouched: there are jaguars and rainforests in the hinterland, and you'll find virgin reefs off the coast. Thankfully the government has committed to protecting these natural resources, linking up with privately-funded conservation groups.

The Mayan Empire has left an indelible mark on Belize, an influence that is still very evident culturally. More tangible marks have been left in the form of a collection of ancient Mayan ruins such as Xunantunich, with its plazas and temples, and Caracol's 138ft tall Sky Palace Pyramid.

Aside from Mayan ruins, Belize's attractions include a rainforest rich in flora and fauna - 40% of the country is dedicated to conservation. And then there's the diving in Belize, the 174-mile coastline fringed with numerous atolls, known as Cayes, and the second greatest barrier reef in the world. The last Original Diving consultant to dive in Belize saw eight whale sharks on a solitary dive. Not a bad return. Apart from the aforementioned big stuff, divers will see everything from groupers, barracudas and jacks to yellow tube sponges and Atlantic spadefish in Belize's fertile waters.


Top picks for Belize

Palm Trees Belize beach

The Belizean Coast

Belize

One of the only places in the world where you are guaranteed whale shark encounters at the right time of year.

Where to go

Matachica

Matachica

The Cayes

Matachica Beach Resort is just a stone’s throw away from Belize’s Great Barrier Reef, and is backed by tropical rainforest.

Where to stay

Spa Suite, Victoria House

Victoria House

The Cayes

Victoria House in Belize is a plantation style villa located on the Ambergis Caye, just minutes from the Belize Barrier Reef and a boat ride away from the iconic dive site, the Blue Hole.

Where to stay

Turtle Inn

Turtle Inn

The Belizean Coast

The place to stay in Placencia is Turtle Inn. This hotel sits on a narrow spit with the ocean on one side and a lagoon, home to 'sea cows' on the other. The Turtle Inn was created by Francis Ford Coppola and it feels a bit like a film set. He and his team have done a remarkable job of restoring the land here. Built under soaring thatched roofs, the resort features a blend of Mayan and Balinese influences. This theme runs through the design: carved stone reliefs, antique-style painted doors, ornate timber friezes, stone paths lined with candles… even if you didn't know the owner's identity, you can't help but feel there's something theatrical about it all.

Where to stay

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