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High Sierra Divers

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(530) 823-6757


Belize

"The best kept secret
in the Caribbean"
Scenes of Belize
Belize Blue Hole


OVERVIEW OF BELIZE

Scenes of Belize For too long, Belize has remained the best kept secret in the Caribbean. Belize lies 700 miles south of Miami on the east coast of Central America in the heart of the Caribbean Basin, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the north, bordering Guatemala to the west and south, and flanked by the Caribbean Sea to the east. It’s greatest length is 174 miles, its greatest width is 68 miles. The population is estimated at 200,000. This English speaking country is democratic, free of terrorists, rebels and local unrest. Of great interest to divers is the fact that offshore lies the second largest barrier reef in the world, extending over 185 miles; three major atolls each ringed by a coral perimeter of at least 50 miles, plus the world’s largest and most renowned Blue Hole, first explored by Jacques Cousteau. Inside the barrier reef there are 450 emerald green cayes of which only a few are inhabited.

Diving Highlights
Although visibility along the Barrier Reef can get poor (20-30’) during high winds, diving on the lee of the atolls usually guarantees visibility in excess of 100.’ You’ll see jacks, tarpon & barracuda.

Weather
November to January are traditionally the coolest months; May to September are the warmest. Mountain temperatures are several degrees cooler than at the coast.

Average Temperatures:
Air - Day: 79° F Night: 68° F
Water - 79° - 84° F

Diving in Belize
Scenes of Belize Belize diving is highly diverse and the diving experience is mainly dependent upon your specific location within this complex offshore area. Scuba diving opportunities along the barrier reef feature a profusion of colorful tropicals and macro creatures existing along healthy coral reef systems and dropoffs. The farther offshore atolls provide the opportunity to fully experience the very best of Belize’s dropoffs, large pelagic marine life and invertebrates of truly impressive sizes and numbers.

Belize is one of the world's top spots for scuba diving and snorkeling with the second largest barrier reef (second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef), as well as three spectacular mid-ocean atolls. Spanning Belize's coastline for 185 miles is the Belize Barrier Reef with dive sites inside and outside of the reef. This reef has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The underwater terrain is spur and grove formations - narrow canyons of corals are great for spotting grouper, stingrays, and moray eels. Inside the reef, patch reefs are covered with hundreds of brightly colored fish and coral species.

Diving and snorkeling are superb all along the barrier reef; the following are just a few of the truly standout sites and dives:

Shark-Ray Alley & Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Reachable from Ambergris Caye, Shark-Ray Alley guarantees a very close encounter with schools of large stingrays and nurse sharks. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is an excellent snorkeling destination comprised of a narrow channel cutting through a rich and well-maintained shallow coral reef.

Turneffe Island & Lighthouse Reef Atolls
(Northern Cayes and Atolls). For many divers coming to Belize, these spots are the Holy Grail, and justifiably so. Both of these mid-ocean atoll formations feature nearly endless opportunities for world-class wall, drift, and coral garden diving. This is also where you'll find the world-famous Blue Hole. Most dive operators offer day trips to dive these sites, although these usually involve a 2- to 3-hour boat ride each way. Alternatively, you can stay at one of the very few lodges out on the atolls, or take a vacation on a live-aboard dive boat.

Water visibility commonly reaches 100+ feet; water temperature hovers around 80°F; and the barrier reef makes for calm water most of the year. Belize is great destination for the active and adventurous traveler. Whether your interests are scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, spelunking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or bird-watching, Belize has some fabulous terrain and opportunities that are perfect for you.

Language & Currency
English is the official language, but Spanish is widely spoken. Other languages spoken are Mayan, Garifuna, and Creole. The Belize dollar is pegged to the US dollar at 2:1 - always verify whether you are paying US or Belize dollars. It's easy to change US dollars just about anywhere, and travelers checks can be changed at any bank. Belize Bank ATMs accept foreign cards (international Visa, MasterCard, Plus and Cirrus) in Belize City, Belmopan, Corozal, Dangriga, Orange Walk, Punta Gorda, San Ignacio and San Pedro. ATMs give only Belizean dollars and the exchange rate is usually a cent or two under the rate used to exchange cash or travelers checks. Most businesses will accept US cash without question. They usually give change in Belizean dollars, though they may return US change if you ask.

Many diving professionals rate these remote atolls as among the most exhilarating underwater experiences in all of the Caribbean.

Remote Atolls
A stay on one of Belize’s remote atolls is like taking a step back in time. It is a place where childlike fantasy merges with evolutionary reality. And in the warm tropical seas off the coast of Belize, it is a place where divers can easily become active participants. Each of these resorts offers idyllic escape and limitless diving opportunities.

Ambergris Caye
Scenes of Belize A short 20 minute flight from Belize City, the resorts here offer a good combination of a relaxed holiday, a unique setting, local native nightlife, and all combined with good diving. The laid-back fishing village of San Pedro is truly representative of Manana Land, with streets of sand, several restaurants, and numerous local bars. The barrier reef is located just three-quarters of a mile off shore and with flat seas can provide a multitude of excellent dive sites. Although these sites are not as spectacular as those on the more remote atolls of Belize, they can indeed provide many days of stimulating underwater experiences and an overall enjoyable and culturally interesting tropical diving vacation.

Diving and Watersports
Located just off the world’s second largest barrier reef, excellent diving abounds in Belize. The famous Blue Hole, first explored by Jacques Cousteau, is also found here. You can dive off of Ambergris Caye, or from many of the more remote Out Islands.

Adventure and Sightseeing
Discover the Mayan ruins, explore intricate caves on foot, go canoeing, or float on inner tubes through cavernous underground rivers. Spend the rest of your topside time visiting Belize’s zoos, jaguar preserve, and butterfly farm.

Shopping and Nightlife
Throughout the country and especially in the metropolis, you’ll find many locally produced handicrafts as well as a great diversity of dining delights.

Passport Requirements
A current passport, valid through your departure date, is required for entry into Belize. In some cases you may be asked to show an onward or return plane ticket.

Exit Requirements
There is a departure tax that must be paid in cash at the airport upon departure.

Culture and Customs
Belize is a country of various cultures, languages, and ethnic groups. Approximately 292,000 people in Belize consist of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indian. Due to racial harmony and religious tolerance, all of these different elements have mixed and blended successfully, and Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly peoples.

There are no overarching etiquette or customs concerns for visitors to Belize. This is a hot, humid tropical country, and dress is uniformly light and casual. For all intents and purposes, Belize is also a very Western country. A simple handshake is the most common form of greeting.

Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Belize is provided by Diesel/Generator Sets, and the power is stable at 110 Volts A/C, which is the same voltage as in the United States. Most outlets are either two- or three-prong U.S. style outlets.

Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system. There are no city or area codes to dial from within Belize; use the country code, 501 only when dialing a Belizean number from outside Belize. Numbers beginning with 0800 and 800 within Belize country are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States from Belize is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Water Quality
The water in most major cities and tourist destinations in Belize is safe to drink. However, many travelers react adversely to water in foreign countries, and it is probably best to drink bottled water throughout your visit to Belize.

Location and Size
Belize lies along the Caribbean coast of Central America. It's captial city is Belmopan. Belize is bounded on the North by Mexico, South and West by Guatemala, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea washes its 174 mile coastline to the East. Belize has an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands. Population is approximately 292,000.