by fellow traveler Al Meador for a dive club newsletter, but I have
embellished it a little for this forum.
We stayed in a ***inium (Caribbean Villas) right on the beach at Ambergris Cay,
a long skinny island off the coast at the far north end of Belize. Caribbean
Villas is a nice but small complex offering units that sleep from 2 to 6, most
with kitchen facilities. The owners, Will and Susan Lala, are on premises, and
love to offer advise. Bicycles are provided for day use.
The daily diving routine consisted of lugging our gear out to the end of the pier for a short boat
ride out past the barrier reef. We would do a deep dive (80 feet), then ride
the waves back through the cut for a surface interval in the calm shallows,
then back out again for a second shallower dive (60 feet). Diving services
were provided by Tortuga Divers, which took our group of 15 out in two wooden
boats with outboard motors. A dive master and mate were on each, which
simplified water entry and exit.
The reef structure on Belize's barrier reef is both dramatic and unvarying- a spur and groove
formation done on a grand scale, with grooves that can become deep canyons or
even tunnels. I had the impression that everything on the Belize wall was
about 20 feet deeper than I am used to- The lettuce c***was growing in 40'
to 50' rather than 20' to 30'.
We did a two day live aboard trip aboard the Offshore Express that allowed us to dive on
Lighthouse Reef, home of the famous Belize Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is one of
those dives that you do to say you've done it, but when your in it, it's just
cold and brown. Other dives, including Turneffe Island Playground and Morning
Glory reef were very good. We found the food on the boat to be good, but most
of the crew was unfriendly, and sleeping facilities were very poor- not enough
places to sleep that were covered from the rain. Eight of us slept in the
wheel house, which had only four bunk slots! Also, I heard the head was
horrible. I managed to avoid it. Fortunatly, we were only out 1 night, and
then back to the comfort of Carribean Villas.
I found the town of San Pedro on Ambergris a very agreeable and friendly place. I think
Cozumel must have been this way 40 years ago- plenty of good food at
reasonable prices, friendly people, no high rise or yuppie boutiques, but with
one basic difference- you can drink the water and eat the food without risk of
intestinal maladies. One way I have of rating a dive trip is to assess the
degree of readiness I feel to return home after a week of putting up with
paradise; Ambergris fairs very well by this standard, with the cramped
Caribbean Villas bathroom my chief reason to get off the island. (Despite the
bathroom, I still highly recommend CV, BTW)
Financial: As a single sharing a room, I spent a total of $1300 for the 9 day/ 8 night trip,
including accommadation, diving, meals, airfare from Miami, carpooling to
Miami and parking, souviners, and drive home feast at Jupiter Crab Company.