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Belize as a Diving and Vacation Destination

April 22, 2013

When looking for a place to dive, it’s important that you choose a location that you know you’re going to enjoy staying as well as diving. Belize has definitely been that experience for me. The region I stayed and dove in was Ambergris Caye, a well-known island off of the coast of Belize. Even the experience of getting to the island was unforgettable. We took a small airplane to the island from Belize City, seating about 12 people. As soon as I got into the airplane, the pilot asked me if I wanted to be the copilot! Sitting by the pilot watching how he navigated the airplane and seeing the ocean from this point of view was mind blowing. The airport in Ambergris is tiny and many hotels are located within walking distance. Taxis and golf carts are available for lodging further away. The main beach is lined with hotels, restaurants, shopping and dive shops.

While in Belize, whether diving or just swimming in the ocean, I definitely recommend bringing a wetsuit! Despite the water looking warm, the water gets cold! Not only does it get cold, but you also experience random pinching stinging feelings. I had no idea why I was experiencing these little pinches, so I thought I would ask my dive master. He explained that the feeling I was experiencing was a result of little bugs in the water that bite you. If you wear a wetsuit, there is less skin they can pinch. So wet suits serve two purposes- warmth and bug protection!

Chumming with reef sharks in Belize

The majority of dives are only 15-20 minutes away from shore by boat. The first dive I took while in Belize happened to be the best dive of the whole trip. As soon as we submerged, we spotted a sea turtle and it swam right up to me (about 3 or 4 feet away)! It was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had in my life. Not only did I do local dives close to the shore of Ambergris Caye, my family also took a dive trip to the famous Blue Hole. There’s really only one reason to go to The Blue Hole- to see bull sharks. While it was a two hour, extremely bumpy boat ride, it was well worth it. You must have an Advanced Diving Certification because you will reach depths of 140+ feet in 7 minutes. During our dive we saw three bull sharks. This was amazing because despite being in open water with sharks, you feel at peace with nature, and you don’t feel like you’re in danger. Another memorable dive experience I had with sharks was something called chumming, also known as bating. You would stuff a tube with meat, and bring it to the bottom of the reef. This would bring a swarm of small reef sharks, eels, and various types of large fish. What was so great about it was that you could pet the sharks. Never in my life before my trip to Belize, did I ever think I would touch a shark. All these different experiences left me with memories that I will never forget.

Putting a reef shark to sleep. Not recommended.

There’s more to do than diving on the island of Ambergris Caye. This small island is known for its famous Chicken Drop. There is a large board with a net-like fence around it. The board is separated into many squares, like a checker board, but each square has a number on it. You purchase a number for a dollar or two, and the chicken is put into the arena and you wait for the chicken to do its thing. Whichever tile the chicken poops on is the winner and they receive $100 BZD. It is held every Thursday night at 7, so you would need to make sure you don’t miss it, because it’s worth going to. Another popular activity to do on the island is renting a bike to ride around the island. My family did this and it was an interesting experience because you could see what the island looked like naturally. Belize is an exciting and worthwhile destination, and I would definitely go back again.

The Chicken Drop

The Chicken Drop draws crowds every Thursday night.

- Alaina Fister, VacationRoost guest blogger

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