Scuba Diving the Best of the Belize Barrier Reef

Belize is a democratic Caribbean nation about half the size of Switzerland endowed with warm friendly English speaking people, the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere with wonderful snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities, rainforests protected as reserves and parks, and more Maya temples and ruins than you can count. There is fantastic scuba diving, snorkelling and snuba in the inner cays, the barrier reef and Glovers Reef Atoll.

The village of Placencia, in Southern Belize, is at the southern end of the Placencia Peninsula and is known as the cay you can drive to. Over 1000 friendly folk are fortunate to live here and enjoy a 16 mile long beach, trips to our cays, the barrier reef and Glover's Reef Atoll, and with a lagoon beckoning exploration by kayak and river boat.

Belize has long been a popular diving destination, due to the barrier reef and the famous blue hole. As Belize has grown in popularity, development has occurred in the North of the country, yet Placencia still remains laid back, and with an authentic community offering the highest standards of service. There are small locally run guest houses you can stay in, or luxury villas that blend in with the environment and landscape. The local community is friendly and ever ready to serve and share their culture and heritage with tourists and visitors. When you stay in Placencia, you'll feel a part of the community and have access to the best diving Belize has to offer. Some of the most pristine reef systems are in Southern Belize, and Gladden Spit the world famous Whale shark feeding site is just a short boat ride away, and day trip excursions to the famous Blue Hole can be run out of Placencia, so come and discover the best diving, and an authentic community in Placencia with the real Belize, both below and above the water.

Over forty percent of Belize is protected as various types of reserves. If you look at a map of Belize, you will see that most of these are in the south and if you look at the locations for Maya ruins, most of these are also in the south.

The Belize Barrier reef system is the second largest barrier reef system in the world, after the Australian Great Barrier Reef, and is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The Belize Barrier reef runs for 320 kilometers/200 miles, and is also surrounded by over 450 islets and islands, that are known locally as cays. Belize has one of the lowest population densities in Central America, and around 40% of it is protected as parks. Due to the lack of development on the shoreline, and the distance of the reef from the mainland, the corals and aquatic life are some of the most diverse and abundant in the Caribbean.

Although the Northern parts of Belize, such as Ambergris Cay and Cay Caulker, have seen commercial development and mass tourism, the Southern parts of Belize have retained their authentic charm and developed a tourism infrastructure in a sustainable manner, offering services and accommodation from budget to the highest luxury standards.

The small peninsular village of Placencia, is ideally located in the South to be closest to the healthiest and most vibrant sections of the Belize Barrier reef. From Placencia, scuba divers and snorkelers have short boat rides to the UNESCO world heritage site of Glovers Reef, and the famous spawning ground and Whale shark feeding site of Gladden Spit. In partnership with Northern dive operators on Ambergris Cay we also have scuba diving packages that include visits to the Belize Blue Hole.

The diving on the Placencia reefs is some of the best in Belize, and we have a variety of scuba diving and snorkelling packages available.

The climate of Belize is subtropical with an average temperature of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. During the coldest part of the year, December through March average lows are about 65 degrees with highs of around 85. From June to October average lows are in the order of 75 degrees with highs of about 90. Rain usually comes in short showers at night but Northers can come during the December to March period and can brings several days of thunderstorms.

Belize is occasionally affected by hurricanes - 5% of hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic reached Belize since 1886. Atlantic Hurricanes generally originate off the coast of Africa, at about the same latitude as Belize. They track west for a while, and then head off northwest. Historically, most hurricanes occur between August and October in Belize.

Continental, American Airlines and TACA fly to Belize from the USA. Maya Island air offers flights from Cancun to Belize City. Within Belize, Tropic Air and Maya Island Air each have several flights a day between Belize City and Placencia. Bus is also an option for the budget traveller. If you want more personal mobility, you can rent a car in Belize City or in Placencia. Placencia also offers golf cart rentals.

Splash Dive Center has been providing scuba diving, snorkelling and adventure tours in Placencia in Southern Belize since the year 2000, and has grown from a small operation focusing on scuba instruction, to a community driven PADI resort facility, that provides dive packages, instruction and supports environmental conservation and community projects.

Splash Dive Center is an accredited PADI Dive Center and is fully equipped with up to date scuba and snorkel equipment. We maintain our equipment to ensure it is in first class condition and with our state of the art air compressor and routine air quality checks as per PADI standards. Splash is also the only dive facility on the peninsula with personnel certified for visual inspection of its dive tanks, and is registered with the Belizean Tour Operators association, and their Divemasters and Instructors have a lifetime of knowledge of the Placencia reefs and environment.

Andy Phillips

PADI Course Director Utila Dive Centre

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