Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Essential Dive Guide: BELIZE

In the September/October Issue of the ScubaDiving Magazine, Belize is featured as a top destination for world class diving. Written by Bronwen Dickey, this one page feature includes the top 9 spots for some of the best diving and snorkeling in Belize.
Opening Excerpts from Magazine: "This friendly Central American country's wide variety of diving makes it a perennial hot spot."
Home to the world's most famous sinkhole, the world's second-largest barrier reef, three of the Western Hemisphere's four atolls and hundreds of small island (cays), Belize's marine diversity makes it the perfect playground for divers. Better Yet - it's only a two hour flight from the mainland US. With topside attractions like ancient Maya ruins, bird and wildlife viewing and rainforest adventires, it's a distinct destination that should be one every diver's list.

Hot Spots 1-9

1. Hol Chan Cut: Moderate currents in this small, shallow channel provide a feast of nutrients for rays, turtles, nurse sharks, grouper and shoaling fish. If you're looking for a challenge, try this drift dive at night.
This little channel offers fantastic sightings of underwater friends...

2. Esmeralda: A hefty moray has moved into one of the reefs over hangs, but the real attarctions here are the packs of nurse sharks that cruise among the coral spurs and grooves right off Ambergris Caye.

3. The Blue Hole: Out at LightHouse Reef, this world-renowned underwater sinkhole plunges to depths of more than 400ft. There isn't much in the way of sea life - aside from the occasional patrolling reef shark - but the site's eerie stalactite forest makes this dive unforgettable.4. The Aquarium: Vibrant Corals and ginat vase sponges form an excellent habitat for queen angelfish, parrotfish, trumetfish and other psychedic denizens of the reef. Reserve half of your bottom time to explore the wall.

5. Half Moon Caye Wall: This dive starts on a sandy shelf, where garden eels and southern stingrays are plentiful, then progresses through coral spurs and out along the main wall, which is covered in red gorgonians and electric rope sponges.

6. The Elbow: Several major cuirrents combine just south of Turneffe Atoll and attract a bounty of spotted eagle rays, barracuda, and large pelagics (permit, tarpon). Caribbean reef sharks are common, and hammerheads have occasionally been spotted right off the wall.

7. Front Porch: This site is your best bet for finding whitespotted toadfish, a species endemic to Belize. They tend to hide out in small holes along the upper reef, but you can locate them by following their very audible croaks.

8. The Black Hole: Finning through the lesser-known sinkhole near Cross Caye rsembles a cenote dive in the Yucatan. It features a garden of stalactites and resident reef sharks, but gets dark as you approach the bottom. (110ft)


Read more of this issue and the Belize feature of the October Issue of Scuba Diving Magazine. www.scubadiving.com

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