Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

Half Moon Key (Caye) Wall - Belize

Half Moon Key (Caye) Wall is a shore accessible salt water dive site, located in Light House Reef Area, Belize. This dive site has an average rating of 4.14 out of 5 from 36 scuba divers. The maximum depth is 26-30ft/8-9m. The average visibility is 91-100ft/28-30m.

Visit Half Moon Caye Natural Monument to see wonders above and below the sea. Crystal clear turquoise waters, colorful and abundant marine life, and spectacular coral growth make this an ideal location for snorkeling and diving. Charismatic seabirds, rare and threatened reptiles, white sandy beaches, a unique forest ecosystem, and a historic lighthouse await at a Belizean tropical island paradise- Half Moon Caye. The Half Moon Caye is located at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the furthest of Belize’s three atolls from the mainland, and one of only four such atolls in the Western Hemisphere. The atoll is an asymmetric rimmed platform, entirely surrounded by a fringing reef rising virtually to the surface. Inside this fringing reef is a lagoon speckled with hundreds of coral patches. Snorkelers can access beautiful coral patches from the Western Beach of Half Moon Caye. The reef, including the spectacular wall where the atoll drops away into the depths, is highlighted for its density and diversity of both corals and fish. In the deeper waters on the south of the protected area is one of Belize’s internationally important fish spawning aggregation sites. Nassau groupers, once the second most commonly caught fish in Belize, have sharply declined because of unsustainable fishing. Half Moon Caye protects the healthiest grouper aggregation in Belize. HALF MOON CAYE WALL Typical Depth Range: 30 ft (9 meters) to unlimited (wall) Typical Current Conditions: None to minimal Typical Visibility: 100 ft (30 meters) Expertise Required: Intermediate Half Moon Wall is an exceptional dive site now included in the newly erected Half Moon Caye National Monument on Lighthouse. Anyone who has the opportunity to dive the offshore atolls should try to dive Half Moon Wall. Here, you can make several different types of dives without moving the boat, and between dives you can take time to picnic or observe the boobie bird colony on Half Moon Caye. It is one of my favorite dives because the reefs are so spectacular and varied. Located on the south side of Half Moon Caye are two striking reef features. First, the coral formations form a narrow rim at the edge of the wall which, in most places, is only 100-200 ft wide. Second, an extensive gently sloping, seemingly barren sand flat separates the reef rim from shallow reefs along the shore. As you glide down to the reefs 30 ft below, you will see the reef rim has a spectacular development of spurs and grooves. The living spurs are massive coral accumulations subdivided by seaward sloping grooves up to 30 ft deep at the wall. Many grooves are quite narrow, but easily negotiated by a diver. One of the exciting aspects of this dive is entering one of the grooves and following it seaward. Muddy sand floors the grooves and divers should take special precautions not to stir up the bottom with their fins. Many grooves feature pronounced overhangs that locally coalesce to form tunnels, also known as Grover’s Grottos. All tunnels are short and straight so no special dive equipment or experience is needed. As the tunnels near the wall they reach depths of 70 ft or more. Large and small marine life abounds on the Half Moon Wall reefs. It is extremely varied because of the abrupt and extensive change in bottom type. If you want to see garden eels, conch, rays, flounder, star-eye hermit crabs and tilefish, check out the sand flats behind the reefs rimming the wall. Manta rays and a variety of reef fish forage in this area regularly, too. On the reef, groupers and yellowtail snappers hide out beneath the coral hanging over the reef canyons. Razorfish and toadfish are another common sight on the reef, adjacent to the sloping sand flat. Large pelagics frequent the reef wall. Spotted eagle rays and turtles are most common, but occasionally sharks and large black groupers visit the area. Most of the large marine life is found more frequently along the eastern part of this dive site, as the large pelagics venture in from the open sea to the east. All divers should take time to see the spectacular field of garden eels found on the sloping sand flats behind the reefs along the wall. Thousands of eels can be seen from a distance off the western end of Half Moon Caye. But you will only see their graceful, slender bodies protruding from a hole in the sand from a distance. These animals are extremely shy and getting a close look may take considerable time. As you approach them you will see successive waves of eels retreat into their protective sand flat shelters. Half Moon Caye Wall is one of the best dive sites of the world. It is, as the name says, a wall dive if you ever get to see past the barrier of coral that separates the inner and outer reef. The dive can be done fairly shallow and will never get boring. Abundance of all kinds of marine life make it hard to keep concentrated on just one thing. Should you choose to visit the outer walls, majestic Eagle Rays and Manta Rays are known to patrol this steep abyss. The reef crest comprises a veritable thicket of staghorn coral with other corals also present. The reef drops steeply to a shelf at a depth of about 15 feet (5 m). Along this shelf there is a large expanse of sand which at first glance appears totally uninteresting. It is here, however, that a large community of garden eels is found. From a distance divers will think they are looking at sparse vegetation, but on closer examination each "leaf" turns out to be the upper half of a small eel protruding upright from its hole in the sand. A diver may get as close as 10 to 15 feet (3- 5 m) before they all disappear from sight. Also known as sand eels, there are very few colonies of this mysterious little creature found in Belize, and none allow divers to venture too close. The sand continues to slope gently until reaching a depth of between 45 and 50 feet (14-15 m). Here divers are at the back of Half Moon Wall, facing an outcrop of coral which rises up Iike a barrier along the very edge of the reef wall. To reach the front of the wall, you can rise up to within 20 feet (6 m) of the surface and swim over the barrier. There are also narrow gaps between the splendid outcrops of coral just wide enough for a single diver. The most interesting route is, as always, to find a tunnel and swim through the archway of living coral. Whichever route is taken, it is nothing compared to the breathtaking scenery South of Cathedral is Quebrada (the break), a single sand chute through the coral which reaches all the way to the reef wall. This wide ledge in such shallow water is absolutely amazing. The corridor allows divers to swim along inspecting the marine life which hides at the bottom of the coral. Arrow crabs, redbanded coral shrimp and juvenile spotted drums are all there, as well as a good number of green moray eels. Half Moon Caye Wall is described by some as “6,000 feet of vertical abyss”. These exquisite walls are unparalleled anywhere else in the world and provide a unique diving opportunity. A shallow beginning with huge corals lying on a white sand bottom where garden eels sway back and forth, drops vertically over spur-and-groove canyons with dense corals, swim-throughs, and some of the most spectacular sponge formations found anywhere. Larger pelagics such as eagle rays, sea turtles, and groupers are often seen swimming in the blue.

From SportDiver Planet’s 50 Greatest Dive, #15 Half Moon Caye Wall in Belize is exactly what you’d expect from a wall dive — and much more. Start with the vertiginous feeling of peering down into the abyss. Visibility extends to impossible depths, so not an eagle ray, loggerhead turtle or tarpon will pass by unnoticed. Course through the warren of caves and swim-throughs that shelter groupers, barracudas and moray eels. Spend the safety-stop daydreaming among a field of rosy razorfish, conch and garden eels. — Brooke Morton

Dive Site Map

Click to Load Map


treemandiver - 12/19/2015 12:19 PM
Rating Added: 5
really nice when in belize, stay at caye caulker really nice island
Belizeit - 6/23/2014 3:31 PM
Rating Added: 5
This was an absolute wonderful dive! So much marine life and the coral was at its best!
allisonfinch - 11/15/2013 11:01 AM
Rating Added: 3
been there
Brian_V - 8/30/2013 7:48 AM
Rating Added: 5
Absolutely SPECTACULAR reef! A MUST see! It was part of the dives we did out there by the Blue Hole.