01 North Wall, Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve
A favourite for local dive masters. Descend to 35ft and swim east on the gradual slope to see loggerhead turtles, spotted eagle rays, schools of horse-eye jacks and maybe hammerhead sharks. There are coral formations and overhangs with sponges. Don’t miss a post-dive snorkel — with turtles, southern stingrays and nurse sharks — inside the reef, where local fishermen clean their catch.
02 Half Moon Caye Wall, Lighthouse Reef
This site features seagrass, sandy slopes and a sheer wall. Drop down 30ft and head south to find the wall’s swim throughs. See cruising groupers, yellowtail snappers, spotted eagle rays and barracudas. Try to spot camouflage frogfish and listen for the sound of toadfish hidden in the wall crevices.
03 Southwest Caye Wall, Glover’s Reef
Featuring tremendous biodiversity and a shallow reef crest, this is definitely the local favourite. Drift along the coral-crusted wall to find spotted drum fish pirouetting in protected crevices and speedy schools of jack. Famous inhabitants include a nurse shark called Chance and Grandpa the loggerhead.
04 Tackle Box, Ambergris Caye
This dive site has a mooring line and a large sandy bottom at 35ft, so it’s perfect for beginners. Swim east towards two sloping canyons and follow them to swim throughs, which start at 60ft and exit at 90ft. From here, ascend to the top of the reef to find nurse sharks, groupers, snappers and reef fish.
05 Sixth Cut, South Water Caye
Three dive sites in one. Swim with butterfly fish, puffers and trumpet fish along a coral-covered mountain ridge. Dive into the blue abyss for spotted eagle rays, sharks and giant barracuda. Along the sandy bottom find crawling conches and maybe a giant loggerhead or hammerhead flying over the ridge.
Patricia Ramirez-Capeling has loved water since childhood, so she became a PADI Course Director and founded the award-winning Splash Dive Center in Placencia, Belize in 2000.
Published in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)