Belize is a haven for scuba diving and snorkeling
Forty years ago, few people outside of the western Caribbean were aware of the wonders of scuba diving and snorkeling in Belize. But that all changed in 1971 when famed French marine biologist and documentarian Jacques Cousteau visited the area and declared it one of his top 10 all-time favorite dive spots.
Today, the Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a mecca for scuba diving and snorkeling. Thousands of visitors from around the planet flock to Belize to explore the reef. The crystal clear water, the sandy white seafloor, and the incredible diversity of marine flora and fauna have made Belize one of the most sought after dive and snorkel sites in the world.
Whether you're an experienced diver or have never tried snorkeling before, there is something for everyone on the Belize Barrier Reef. Even for visitors unable to swim, the reef has many beautiful islands where visitors can simply wade into the water and look under the surface to see an astounding kaleidoscope of colorful fish, anemones, rare sea turtles, and the playful dolphins that call the reef home.
Some of the top locations to dive on the reef include the Belize Blue Hole, Jacques Cousteau's favorite spots. The Belize Blue Hole (sometimes known as the Great Blue Hole) is a naturally occurring circle of deep blue water that measures 300 meters (984 feet) across and an astonishing 125 meters (410 feet) deep. Formed by rising waters more than 10,000 years ago that flooded a cave, the Blue Hole offers divers a unique chance to explore an underwater labyrinth of enormous stalactites and see rare creatures like the elusive hammerhead shark.
Other popular dive sites include "Shark Ray Alley," a natural cut in the reef that draws thousands of nurse sharks and rays who gather in this traffic "bottleneck" of marine creatures transiting from one side of the reef to the other.
There are thousands of world-class diving and snorkeling spots on the reef, including protected marine reserves like the Silk Cayes, the Laughing Bird National Park, the gorgeous beauty of the remote Glover's Atoll, and mangrove-lined lagoons that serve as breeding areas for hundreds of different species of fish and marine mammals.
Some of the reef's most iconic visitors are migrating whale sharks, the largest sharks in the world's oceans that transit through Belize each spring as part of their annual circumnavigation of the globe.