Trip Report Ambergris Caye, Belize trip report week of 3/14/2022

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Chicago, IL
# of dives
100 - 199
TL/DR: The diving/reef was just okay but we saw lots of sharks and I describe the Covid protocols we had to do to get in and out of Belize.

My wife and I went down to Ambergris Caye to meet friends for some diving the week of March 15, 2022. We arrived on Tuesday and left on Saturday which gave us two full days of diving as we don't like to dive the day before we fly, even if there are enough hours between last dive and the flight.

At that time you needed a negative test or proof of vaccination to get into Belize and a negative test (within 24 hours of departure) to return to the States. You are also required to purchase Belizean Health Insurance for, I think, $18 per person. Do some checking but I think that insurance would have paid for accommodations if we tested positive before coming back and had to quarantine. You can buy it online ahead of your trip but no one really asked us about it when we arrived! Someone did ask if we had it already as in "you can buy it here if you don't". But I don't think any official ever checked. Maybe they did and I just missed it?

We asked our hotel (Mata Rocks) about the return test and they arranged for someone to come to our room the day before we were scheduled to leave. They do the test in your room and then give you the results on a piece of paper that you can then show to whoever asks.

Face masks were present but I don't think they were generally required. Some stores had signs requiring them but none of the restaurants we visited nor the Dive Shop we used asked for them. The Dive Shop did take our temperature on the boat when they picked us up but I think that was more for our sakes? To reassure us they were safe?

The diving was just okay but, regardless, we were super grateful just to get out and dive! My last dive was in March 2020 (Utila) and my wife's was in 2019 (Roatan). She did a refresher course before we went down and both of us spent an hour in the local dive shop's pool just for practice.

I said the diving was just okay because the reef just off Ambergris Caye did not look great to me. It wasn't catastrophically bad; but it wasn't really lush. We didn't go to HolChan so that may be better and certainly the atolls further out are nicer.

But.... we did see a LOT of sharks. Both nurse sharks (which have been present there in reasonable numbers for years) but also Caribbean Reef sharks. I have been on a few dive trips down to Ambergris Caye over the years and done a bit of snorkeling down there (before I learned to dive) and never saw anything but nurse sharks. But this trip we saw the reef sharks every dive. They were not afraid of people and swam super close several times. The story I heard is that they are coming closer to shore because of all the chumming some of the dive shops do. We did notice they tended to go up to boats as they approached as they are probably trained to look for handouts. I'm not sure how I feel about that but it was cool to see them.

Other than sharks we saw a few sting rays, turtles (Hawksbill and Loggerhead) and one moray eel. But again, not a ton of coral or a ton of fish. I could have been the time of year or the fact that we only went out to the reef right off shore but I would not say it was in great shape. But our focus was to get back in the water and to re-acquaint ourselves with diving and it was a fine trip for that purpose.

As for dive shops, we used Belize Diving Adventures. Our trip was last minute and the dive shop our friends were using (who planned their trip well in advance) was not able to take us out as they were full. But we had a great experience with Belize Diving Adventures. Like a lot of dive shops on that island, they will pick you up and drop you off from your hotel's pier. My wife and I were the only ones on the boat and both dive masters (we did about five dives over two days with them) were especially patient and attentive to her since this was her second trip and hadn't been diving in the ocean for three years. Now my wife is not a bad diver for her experience level, but it was still nice to see the care and attention paid to her by the shop.

The dives were pretty quick out to the reef and then back to the dive shop for your surface interval. For entry, you would walk to the back of the boat and put your fins on, the DM would help you get your BCD on, and then you'd do a back roll into the water. For exit, you'd swim up to the boat ladder, take your BCD off in the water, hand it up to the DM or boat driver, take your fins off, hand them up, and then climb up the latter. While I set my own gear up for the first dive, the boat caption switched my stuff over to the next tank for me. I'm sure if I asked, he'd let me do it but I was fine with them doing it. I just checked it out before I jumped in.

We were able to go with our friend's dive shop (Belize Pro Diving Services) on one afternoon dive and they seemed to be a pretty good, professional outfit. The DM asked me to assemble my own gear and watched me to see if I knew what I was doing. But there were a lot more people on each boat. I say "a lot" but it was really just normal boat loads. They broke our boat into two groups with a DM each. Our group was us and our friends so about six people. The DM was super cool and helpful and I felt they were also a good, safe outfit. Entry and exit were the same as with Belize Diving adventures. The water was super choppy on that second day so exiting the water was kind of tough. Because of that, we only did one of the two afternoon dives but the DM was nice enough to rinse my gear in their dunk tanks.

For hotel, we stayed at Mata Rocks. This is not a diving hotel but it was nice, clean, and had a modern boutique feel to it. We loved it and would stay there again. It's a bit south of town but you can walk to town on the beach or the road and we took cabs back (about $5 US). On our second day of diving with BDA they dropped us off at our hotel but we were going to walk to BPDS to meet our friends after lunch and the hotel was totally fine with us having our gear plopped down near our outdoor table while we were eating.

I hope this helps and is informative given so many of us have not been diving for the past few years. We have another trip planned for June to Roatan and I'll report on how that goes afterwards.


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Mata Rocks is lovely, especially if you get good view of the ocean. I like the Squirrel Bar and the hammocks. Good management.

Don't walk the beach at night. Sadly it's not as safe as it used to be.

Thanks for your well written report!

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