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Belize Dive Sites
 
 
  • West Point I & II
    On the northern side of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll are two dive sites, West Point I to the south & West Point II to the north. Sheer walls twist and turn along the edge of the reef edge and drop to a depth of about 130ft to a narrow shelf of sand & coral; from here the wall then slopes less steeply into the depths. The walls are covered in seafans and red & yellow tube sponges and for those who like their organisms small, tunicates! The shallow sandy areas at the top of the wall are alive with garden eels and stingrays, while on the wall itself, and the deep ledge, you can see angelfish, parrotfish, blennies, gobies, snapperwhite spotted filefish, hogfish, barracudas, trunkfish, groupers, wrasse, hamlets, triggerfish, and spotted & green moray eels.

  • Nurse Shark Lodge
    East of the Aquarium, Nurse Shark Lodge is a section of reef wall on the northern part of Long Caye that has many gullies and crevices in the top, which is an ideal daytime resting-place for nurse sharks. The back of the reef has a large sandy area with sea grass full of interesting critters. The sand area is a great night dive as it is shallow and protected, and you can access the back of the reef on one side and the sea grass beds on the other

  • The Aquarium
    Located off the northwest edge of Long Caye, this sheer drop starts in about 30ft of water and is covered with huge barrel sponges, enormous deep water seafans, elephant ear sponges, yellow tube sponges and iridescent blue vase sponges. The apex of the reef just into deep water and is perfect place to see reef sharks, turtles, schools of jacks & barracuda. The sandy area along the reef at filled with jawfish who spend their day cleaning out their holes. You can see them wriggling up from the seafloor with a mouthful of sand and coral debris, depositing it away from the nest, before darting back onto their hole.

  • Silver Caves
    This site is named from the huge schools of silversides (glassfish) that were found in the caves & swim-throughs that honeycomb this wall. They make an attractive meal for many other reef fish, so activity along this reef is frenetic. Jacks, snapper and other larger fish species all vie to reduce the numbers of glassfish in the caves! A fabulous spot to photograph glassfish, but there is also some fabulous coral growth here also.

  • Cathedral Reef
    Essentially a reef that consists of a sandy area with huge coral spires like those of a cathedral (hence its name) that rise from a depth of 80-90ft to within about 30ft of the surface. You can swim through the sandy passageways with these coral spires rising above you on either side. The tops of the spires are attractive coral gardens while the sides are covered in orange, red & yellow sponges. There are lots of groupers and jacks, French angelfish, scorpionfish, schools of glassfish and tarpon can all be fond lurking in the channels.

  • Long Caye Ridge
    Situated on the western side of Long Caye, this dive site is a series of coral ridges with spur-and-groove effect undulating topography that runs perpendicular to a deep wall There are soft corals & sea fans near the drop-off and all along the wall, as well as tube & barrel sponges. On the reef substrate itself you will find multicoloured pencil and finger corals growing in profusion. Holes in the reef are home to filefish, fire blennies and crustaceans.

  • Que Brada
    Continue north from Long Caye Ridge you will see Que Brada or Broken Reef. The reef wall has a slight over hang in places and the bottom of the wall can be found large pillar coral formations growing from the sandy floor. The reef is dominated by a large cut that extends through the reef into the shallows. Currents bring plenty of nutients to the site, so the place is crammed with fish – yellowtail snappers, black groupers, goatfish, chubs, triggerfish, filefish, jacks and, if you’re lucky, turtles and eagle rays are all seen here.

  • Hat Caye Drop-off
    A wall dive at Hat Caye, on the western part of Lighthouse Reef is essentially two sections of reef divided by a sandy area, one shallow and close to the caye, the other the main drop-off. Here you can find the mother of all basket sponges – they are big enough to hide a diver, but be warned that this damages and can even kill sponges. These sponges are home to a number of creatures, including bristle stars & basket stars, the latter a massive web of tentacles and coral shrimp that are easily identified by their white antennas. The wall also has giant yellow tube sponges, deep-water lace coral and sea fans. This is a great place to take wide-angle photographs of divers against typical reef & sponge formations.

  • Elk Horn Forest
    Situated on the east side of Long Caye, this is a wonderful shallow dive with huge stands of elkhorn and lettuce corals. These corals are a perfect place for juvenile fish to hide from predators, as the arms of the elkhorn offer a refuge into which larger fish cannot get. Here you can expect to see chubs, angelfish, goatfish, filefish and graysbys amongst others. This is a great dive on clear sunny days of you want to take photographs of attractive coral formations with natural light.

  • Great Blue Hole
    Well, I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but in my opinion this dive site should be called the Great Green Hole! Maybe we just had lousy conditions, but to drop down inside a large bowl of cold pea soup to look at some weed covered blobs of rock serves no particular purpose, as far as I am concerned. The only saving grace of this dive was the appearance of Honey the dolphin while we were out-gassing on the sea grass beds around the lip of the hole. She was very playful and spent a lot of time flipping small flatfish out of the sand with her nose and eating them. Maybe I am being unfair? The Blue Hole is a large circular basin in the middle of Lighthouse Reef, the roof of which collapsed some time in the past, leaving a gaping maw in the reef, clearly visible form the air. As this was once a cave above sea level there are stalactites suspended from the inner walls at a depth of about 110ft. They are anything from 10-30ft long and covered in a fine coating of weedy algae. The rim of the hole has some coral growth on it, and then makes way for this algae the deeper one descends. Some have seen sharks in the hole and Honey herself followed us down to about 50ft before deciding to leave (she had obviously been in before and knew it wasn’t worth it!) Still, I suppose I can argue that at least I’ve dived the Great Blue Hole!

  • Tarpon Caves
    Like the battlements of a castle, large buttresses of coral rises sheer from a sandy seafloor resplendent with garden eels at about 120ft to within 30ft of the surface. The outer face of the site is covered with black coral trees and huge yellow tube & barrel sponges ledges. The walls are pitted with caves and swim throughs, which are an ideal place for tarpon to hang out in the day before adventuring out at night to feed. Tarpon are strange looking fish with intense silvery scales and upturned hook faces, there mouths opening distinctly on the upper side of the head, in front of the eyes. They are of an ancient scientific order and while the individuals or small schools that are seen on reefs in the Caribbean are about 10-15lb in weight they can grow to colossal size – the world record is over 250lb (they are an eager catch for sport fishermen!) They are similar in many respects to coleocanths, those ancient fish from the western Indian Ocean.

  • Half Moon Caye
    An uninhabited island in the section of Lighthouse Reef, this is a beautiful island surrounded by white beaches, and fringed by sea grass beds and shallow patch reefs, Half Moon Caye is also a bird a sanctuary; in the hot and airless interior of the island boobies & frigate birds nest in the tree tops. An observation platform has been built to give you a bird’s eye view! There is also a lighthouse on the island (hence Lighthouse Reef!) that is a National Monument. As a distraction from diving this is a great place to kick back for a few hours, commune with the wildlife and relax or snorkel off the beach. It was off Half Moon Caye that we first encountered Honey the dolphin – she came to swim with us as we snorkelled off the back of the Belize Aggressor. She decided to stay with us for the next day or so, and we enjoyed the occasion immensely when she came with us to the Blue Hole and decided she like us so much that she followed us back out to the reef instead of staying to interact with the divers from the Wave Dancer!
 
 

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