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Dive Belize – Turneffe Atoll and Southern Belize Dive Sites

Moray eel in coral reefWith approximately 60 logged dive sites on the Turneffe Atoll alone, diversity and flexibility describe Turneffe Flats diving. Add the southern Belize dive sites, from Placencia and Chabil Mar, to your log. At last official count there are a minimum of 20 named dive sites in the southern waters of Belize, including Gladden Spit, home to the whale sharks, the Placencia inner reef and Glovers Reef Atoll.

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Blue Hole Dive Site
Diving Glovers Reef

dive Glovers Reef AtollGlovers Reef is the southernmost of three atolls off Belize’s coast. The southern part of Glovers is approximately 30 nautical miles from Placencia, a journey which takes a little more than an hour and a half. The ride is certainly worth every minute as some of the best scuba diving in the Western Caribbean can be found here and the conditions here make for some of the best fun dive trips we offer. Glovers Atoll is an oval shaped reef system 15 miles long by 4 miles wide. Five islands lie on the eastern side where most of the diving is done. These islands are mostly private with small diving and fishing resorts. The pristine waters with unique coral formations and tons of marine life makes Glovers reef a popular spot for divers wanting to see the best Belize has to offer. Glovers is one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and a marine reserve with designated no take and conservation zones.

The Aquarium
Location: East of Middle Caye
Depth: 30-100 feet/10-30mt
Access: Boat ride is 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes from Placencia.
Expertise rating: Intermediate

With crystal clear water and all the marine life to be seen here, this site is like diving in an aquarium. To ensure we see the most activity, we dive this site early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This site is famous for large schools of yellowtail snappers and Creole wrasse either out in mid-water or cruising along the wall in and around cleaning stations. Schools of horse eye jacks and black durgons can also be seen playing on the edge of the wall. Dolphins and turtles are common sightings at this site.

dive Glovers Reef AtollOff The Wall
Location: East of Southwest Caye
Depth: 25-100 feet/8-30mt
Access: Boat
Expertise rating: Intermediate

This wall starts at 25 feet/8mt then drops steep 6000 feet/1800mt into the Barlet deep, the deepest trench in the Caribbean. Because of the usual mild current and wave action, this site is always full of marine life feeding on organisms brought by the currents. Visibility at this site is usually more than 100 feet/30mt, making this a spectacular dive. Critters here include Nassau groupers, lobsters, eagle rays and several species of huge snappers. Occasionally in the months of December to February giant manta rays can be seen gliding close to the surface.

Manta Wall
Location: South of Southwest Caye
Depth: 35-90 feet/11-27mt
Access: Boat
Expertise rating: Intermediate

This site got its name from the island resort closest to this area. The dive starts in a sandy area then heads south to a massive wall of stony corals. Great star corals, boulder star and mound corals create unique swim troughs and also shelter nurse sharks and huge groupers. Smaller tropical reef fish can be found here in abundance. Queen conch, trumpet conch and the king helmet conch can be found either crawling or buried in the sandy areas around this site.

Pinnacles
Location: South west corner of Glovers Atoll
Depth: 25-100 feet/8-30mt
Access: Boat
Expertise rating: Intermediate

The pinnacle is an interesting dive site that has lots to offer divers looking for a change from walls and canyon type formations. Huge pinnacles that starts at 100 feet/30mt rise up to around 25 feet/8mt below the surface. Lots of sponges, plate corals and beautiful gorgonians can be found on each pinnacle. In between the pinnacles are deep sand channels where hog snappers and schoolmasters can be found. Pelagic species such as reef sharks, mackerel, tarpons, and barracudas can be seen here. This dive is done swimming around and even through a few of the pinnacles.


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Dive sites from Placencia, Belize and Chabil Mar

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Placencia Inner Reef

Laughing Bird Caye

diving Laughing birdA National Park and World Heritage Site! This beautiful and unique Caye is located eleven nautical miles east of Placencia. The boat ride takes about 30 minutes to some of the most beautiful dive sites in Southern Belize. The formation of most of the dive sites are fringing reef systems, with spur and groove formations, and occasional drop offs and areas of patch reef. These sites are ideal for entry level and novice divers as there are very weak currents, and many of the sites are protected, and these sites are also suited to experienced and expert divers who have good buoyancy control, and a fine eye for details, as there are many reef critters that will make the dives enjoyable and exciting.

Coral Garden
Location: One half nautical miles southeast of Laughing Bird Caye
Dept: 35-80 feet/10-25mt
Access: Boat
Expertise Rating: Novice

Coral Garden is known for its abundance and variety of coral. Critters include spotted drum, huge lobsters, cleaner shrimp, arrow crabs, and lots of variety of reef fish. Coral mounds separated by sandy patches rise from 100 feet/30mt, to 30 to 40 feet/10 to 12mt from the surface. This dive can be done at either the 70 foot/21mt range or at 40 foot/12mt range.

Diving Laughing Bird CayeLaughing Bird Drop Off
Location: East side of Laughing Bird Caye
Depth: 15-80 feet/5-24mt
Access: Shore/boat
Expertise rating: Novice

At the 15 to 25 feet/5-8mt, sandy patches make this site a perfect location for open water training and checkout dives. A coral wall slopes down gradually from about 25 to 80 feet/8-24mt. Sightings here could include lobsters, barracudas, lizardfish, Nassau grouper, angel fish, furry sea cucumber and lots of other juvenile reef fish.

Laughing Bird North
Location: One nautical mile north of LBC
Depth: 25-80feet/8-24mt
Access: Boat
Expertise Rating: Novice

On top of the slope here are scattered coral patches on the seafloor which makes it a perfect habitat for the protected queen conch. The dive itself is along a slope running from north to south at around 25 to 80 feet/8-24mt. Impressive wire coral and lettuce leaf corals lines the side of this wall and forms a perfect habitat for spotted moray eels, lobsters and trumpet fish. Spotted eagle rays may also be seen gliding along this wall.

Laughing Bird South
Location: One and a half nautical miles south of Laughing Bird Caye
Depth: 25-80ft/8-24mt
Access: Boat
Expertise rating: Novice

At this site a huge canyon, at 50 feet/15mt, runs north to south. This dive can be done either in between or on the east side of the canyon. Lobsters can be found in groups of 4 or 5 hiding out in the crevices of the canyon. On the sandy bottom in between the canyons wall is a usual hiding spot for southern stingrays and nurse sharks. The southern part of the canyon catches a bit of current and is an excellent habitat for healthy coral growth.

Diving Laughing Bird CayeThe Wreck
Location: 0.2 nautical miles northwest of Laughing Bird Caye
Depth: 30-90 feet/10-27mt
Access: Boat
Expertise Rating: Intermediate

At 90 feet/27mt just off laughing Bird Caye lies the Miss Pamela, a small tugboat, sunk in 2002 to create an artificial reef and an additional dive site in the inner reef. The wreck has created a micro reef with good fish life, including one or two goliath grouper and a huge barracuda preying on schools of silversides sheltering around the wreck. The visibility and dive ability of the wreck is generally wind dependent as bottom sediments are easily stirred up. A dive light is a good accessory to have on this dive.

Long Coco Split
Location: One nautical mile east of Mosquito Caye, about 3 nautical miles from Laughing Bird Caye.
Depth: 25-90ft/8-27mt
Access: Boat
Expertise Rating: Novice

This area has basically the same marine life as dive sites around Laughing Bird Caye. The formation here is a bit different from most sites in Southern Belize and it is also possible to dive a bit deeper here. Most of the activity at this site is at the tip of the split where large schools of silversides can be found here along with bigger predator fish. Black corals and gorgonians give this site a unique appearance as it is inner reef.


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Whale Sharks Diving - Gladden Spit

Whale Shark DivingDuring the months of April through June, southern Belize offers divers and snorkelers the unique opportunity for spotting the large pelagic feeder known as the Whale Shark. When in a playful mood, these gentle and curious creatures will hang around for long periods of time. If you are planning a dive trip with whale sharks in mind, the best time to do so during these months would be three days before the full moon to three days after the last quarter moon (It's during this period that Cubera Snappers spawn, attracting the Whale Sharks). April - June is also spawning season for many other species of fish and mating season for turtles.

Belize is famous for many scuba diving activities, the coral reefs and aquatic life of the Barrier reef, the famous Blue Hole, and also the gentle giant Whale sharks. There’s no other resort destination in the whole of Belize that can offer you access to all these scuba sites in one comfortable dive package except for Placencia.

Gladden Spit
Location: 26 nautical miles east of Placencia
Depth: 60 Feet/18mt
Access: One hour and thirty minute boat ride from Placencia
Expertise Rating: Advanced

Whale Shark DivingThe Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve located near Placencia in Southern Belize, is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including the cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This is what attracts the Whale Shark to the Gladden spit. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet/18mt. Divers and snorkelers get a rare opportunity to swim along with this magnificent creature. The wall here slopes down to 160 feet/50mt then drops off into the blue abyss. Diving is done in mid water at a depth no deeper than 60 feet/18mt in groups no larger than 12 divers with their dive masters.


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Eco – Turneffe Flats and Placencia Belize Adventure

Tourist snorkeling This Belize vacation adventure is tailored for those interested in experiencing the wonderful and varied marine ecosystem of the Turneffe Atoll and the inland beauty of the culture and jungles of Belize. Turneffe is the largest of only four coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere. Approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, it is made up of a fringing coral reef extending around the entire atoll, miles of back reef flats, mangroves, turtle grass beds, littoral forest, channels and large central lagoon. Continue onto Chabil Mar for your land based cultural and jungle experiences, to view the howler monkeys in their natural habitat, crocodiles and varied river marine life, explore ancient Maya ruins of Belize and cave swimming or tubing and jungle treks at the world’s first jaguar preserve.

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Turneffe Flats & Placencia - Customized Belize Vacations

tourist snorkeling with manateeCustom designed Belize adventure vacations to fit the entire family’s interests. One fisherman and one atoll / cultural adventurist? One diver and one fisherman? Contact us to discuss your family’s unique Belize adventure vacation desires. These combination vacation packages are customized for you, built to meet all of your party’s needs and desires.

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Turneffe Atoll - Fishing in Belize – World Class Excursions

Fishing at Turneffe Flats LodgeThe Turneffe Atoll is remote and strikingly beautiful with crystal clear waters alive with a wide diversity of marine life. Noted for its variety of saltwater fly fishing, plentiful bonefish, permit and tarpon, Turneffe Flats is one of the rare spots in the world where you have a legitimate shot at a Grand Slam. Continue your fishing adventure to Placencia, a traditional southern Belize fishing village and Chabil Mar.

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