There are many spectacular dive sites in the Caribbean, but few of them can beat the coral reefs and beautiful underwater coral gardens found beneath the warm, crystal clear tropical waters from Mexico and Belize. Belize in particular is quite rightly considered to be one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world.
Marine life is fairly similar wherever you travel around in the Caribbean, but the combination of thriving marine life and superb coastal resorts makes the coastal area between Mexico and Belize a perfect dive destination.
When you’ve had enough of the resort live, leave it behind and head down beneath the waves where you will find colorful corals gardens, dramatic deep drop offs and a varied selection of reef fish such as angel fish, groupers, barracuda and if you are lucky you will encounter the biggest fish in the sea, the Whale Shark.
Cross border transfers between Mexico and Belize are fairly easy and lots of diving enthusiasts start off their trip exploring dive sites off the coast of Cozumel before heading down to continue diving in Belize.
However, it pays to organize your transfer in advance using a reputable company, as this will help you avoid delays and other travel related issues. You can catch a bus in the Yucatan Peninsula area in Mexico which will bring you to the border of Belize, be prepared for a 10 hour bus trip though.
These busses are comfortable and drive at night. Expect to hop on the bus in Playa del Carmen at 12:00 and you will be at the Belizean border at 5AM. Bring cash money because you will need to pay an exit and an entry fee. $50 will be enough to cross the borders.
Where Are The Best Places To Dive
Cozumel Island, located off the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, is famous for its spectacular wall dives and abundant marine life. The reef landscape around Cozumel has something for everyone—novice divers can explore the shallow coral gardens close to the shore whilst more experienced scuba divers can brave the faster currents and dive down in the deeper waters alongside vertical coral walls.
Cross the border into Belize and you will discover that second largest barrier reef lies just off the coast, which is perfect for scuba diving. The reef runs parallel to the coastline and meanders along the seabed for more than 180 miles; in several places it is less than a mile from the coast of Belize.
A large part of the reef remains relatively unexplored, but there are more then enough popular dive sites perfect for scuba divers to explore.
Pro tip: Ask one of the dive operators in Belize if the are willing to take you to one of the many remote and inhabited Island of the coast of Belize. Take a break and indulge yourself in the peace and quit these islands offer. Bring a small BBQ to prepare lunch.
Ambergris Caye, just off the Belize coast, deservedly attracts the majority of scuba diving enthusiasts. The water is very clear and warm and the main dive sites: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the Turneffe Islands, Glovers Reef and Half Moon Caye, are all accessible from the shore.
The local dive masters take reef conservation very seriously and one of the most popular dive sites, Hol Chan, has been designated as a marine conservation area and is constantly supervised to ensure fish and coral are not damaged
Choose your dives
Depending on where you are staying on the Belize coast, it takes between one hour and two and a half hours to sail out to the Ambergris Caye by boat, but once you have arrived, you will be able to explore a magical underwater marine world of coral, colorful fish and lots of nurse sharks,
More experienced divers might want to consider a live-aboard diving holiday off the coast of Mexico and Belize—instead of traveling to and from the main dive sites with a dive company. When you are in a live aboard you are able to reach reefs where “ordinary” dive operators do not come because many dive site are too far for a “normal” dive boat to reach in a day.
Live aboard diving is all about 3 things: Diving, eating and sleeping. You will be sure that you will visit all the dive site between the Mexico and Belize border when you embark on a live aboard tour. live aboard operators will offer unlimited diving which enables you to jump in and dive everywhere the boat drops its anchor.
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Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.