I recently went on a dive trip to Ambergris Caye in Belize. It turned out to be a major disappointment as far as the diving was concerned.
I booked the trip with SingleDivers.com which was actually one of the highlights of the trip. They were a good group, with a variety of experience levels. Everyone got along well and generally had a good time.
I had read all of the dive magazine descriptions of diving at Ambergris Caye and was primed for an unforgetable experience only to find that the dive magazines had really missed the boat, pun intended. The majority of the dives are done outside the reef which had a strong swell going on the entire time we were there. We were told later that was the norm for the area. Once in the water we were usually greeted by several nurse sharks and groupers that had been fed so much they knew to come when a dive boat was in the area. They were the highlight of the outside the reef dives. After the sharks the dives basically consisted of swimming over coral reefs with little or no fish life. I think on some dives we didn’t see more than 10 fish total during the entire dive. The locals told us that the area had been seriously overfished. One in our group had been there about six years before. He checked his dive log and commented that he had noted then that the diving was some of the best he has ever seen. Another diver commented that, "If you like jumping off of a boat into four foot swells, drifting over lifeless coral canyons, and climbing back into a boat with an unsecured ladder in four foot swells then Ambergris Caye is the place for you".
Inside the reef there is only one dive site in Hol Chan Reserve. This is the only dive that lived up to expectations. After the obigatory nurse sharks and groupers there was abundant sealife including quite a few spotted eagle rays and sea turtles. This is a shallow dive, max depth about 28 feet, with a variety of topography. Our second dive there though ended with a bottom crawl against a strong curent to get back to the boat.
The town of San Pedro is a decent size and has pretty much anything a diver could want. Good nightlife and restaurants. The non-diver will have plenty to do during the day and night.
I had a good laugh when I got home and found my new issue of Sports Diver magazine had an article raving about the diving at Ambergris Caye. I couldn’t help but notice that they only mentioned the nurse sharks, groupers and Hol Chan Reserve. So be warned, if you go to Ambergris Caye that might be all you see.