As the home to both the Great Blue Hole and the Belize Barrier Reef — second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef — Belize and the surrounding Caribbean waters is home to a seemingly limitless selection of great dive sites. Professional divers travel from all over the world to see the underwater landscapes off of Belize’s coast, but that can be overwhelming if you’re new to diving or just new to the Caribbean. Fortunately, finding the right dive center can make all the difference in the world. If you have your heart set on scuba diving in Belize and you want to make the most of your time in Belize, here’s what you should look for.
Breadth and Knowledge of Courses Offered
Regardless of how much experience you have as a diver, you’ll want to make sure that you try to pick a PADI Five Star Dive Center whenever possible. You can be assured that these dive centers offer progressive courses that cover everything from the basics up through complex techniques, and they come with a full selection of safe and modern equipment.
Whether you’re looking to plunge deep into the Great Blue Hole or simply snorkel around the edges of the Belize Barrier Reef, a PADI Five Star Dive Center will always provide you with the experience and equipment you need to be confident in the water. Certification as a five star dive center needs to be renewed, and the standards are stringent — so you can be confident that the dive center you’re doing business with isn’t just resting on its laurels.
Variety of Dive Packages
Getting the training you need to properly get into the water safely should absolutely be your first and most critical prerequisite, but you should also make sure that there are actually worthwhile sites to test our your new proficiency. In Belize, there are few better places for setting off diving than the Placencia Peninsula. Thanks to the fact that it’s half a mile wild, Placencia is home to plenty of beachfront and a whole lot of dive sites — but its accessibility to the water also allows you to quickly get to more remote sites as well.
Most dive centers offer packages that allow you to visit a set of dive sites at once, and those make it easier to narrow down the choices to what you’re looking for. Most dive centers will offer excursions out to the barrier reef, but you should dig deeper to see where exactly they go. Experienced locals working with a reliable dive center will be able to help you find less populated spots so you can get the experience you deserve. Also keep in mind that there are some incredible seasonal activities like the ability to swim with whale sharks — a unique phenomenon that occurs along a part of the Reef known as Gladden Spit.
If we aren’t careful stewards of the environment, there very quickly will be none of it left for us to explore, and that’s why it’s especially important to seek out a dive center that prioritizes environmental responsibilities. Being a PADI Five Star Dive Center comes with expectations of social and ecological responsibility, but that can vary from center to center.
Keep an eye out for dive centers that are engaged actively in environmental projects, but also keep in mind what their hiring practices are. Dive centers that hire locals are reinvesting back into their communities, but they also ensure that the dive instructors come prepared with a sizable level of knowledge about local dive sites and snorkeling spots. In particular, look for the PADI Green Star Award — as this signifies dive centers that go above and beyond in terms of their sustainability policies.
Patricia Ramirez deserves credit as the first Belizean woman to achieve the position of PADI Course Director, but she deserves more credit for her trailblazing approach to diving and snorkeling training. Splash Dive IDC Center is a Gold Standard certified tour operator, and they offer courses that can help completely inexperienced divers get their ears wet for the first time or advance the skill set for advanced divers.
Splash Dive has been designated a PADI Five Star Dive Center, and it has also earned the PADI Green Star Award. Additionally, it’s been given a Gold Standard Tour Operator Certificate by the Belize Tourism Board — ensuring that Splash Dive IDC Center employs some of the most stringent Covid-19 policies around. Whether you’re an experienced diver or you’re stepping into the water for the first time, you can count on Splash Dive to prepare you for some of the most beautiful underwater scenery you’ve ever seen.