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North or South Belize on a budget!

Discussion in 'Belize' started by RalphJr, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. RalphJr

    RalphJr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Fresno California
    63
    15
    8
    My wife and I will be traveling to Belize November 6 through the 14th. We are on a limited budget since we just returned form Palau. See my trip report on Palau here http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/pacific-islands/371109-palau-trip-report.html we have never been to Belize and I am finding that we can do a reasonably priced dive trip from either San Pedro or Placencia. The atoll resorts are priced higher than we want to go. So please do not recommend them. I really just want your opinions on the dive sites. I am not really interested in the Blue hole so leave this one off of the list.

    It is all about the diving. Which city has access to the most and best dive sites San Pedro or Placencia?

    Thanks for your help in this unofficial poll.
     
  2. Ralph Capeling

    Ralph Capeling Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Placencia Belize
    578
    158
    43
    RalphJ, we have writeups on a number of our dive sites on our website Belize Scuba Diving Packages, Snorkeling & Whale sharks|Splash Dive Center|Placencia Belize. We operate out of Placencia.
    San Pedro is close to the reef so they have short boat rides and typically do one tank dives and come back to shore for the surface interval. The barrier reef is futher out at Placencia so weo two or three tank dives and have lunch or a barbeque on one of the cayes for the surface intervals. In addition to some great diving, Placencia has good acess to inland attractions for those days where you want a break from diving or the seas are too rough.
    Splash partners with a number of hotels and resorts so can arrange accommodations ranging from luxury to economy. We also do inland adventure tours.
    If you would like additional info or have some specific questions, you can reach me at ralph@splashbelize.com or if you want to book with us you can contact Patty at patricia@splashbelize.com
     
  3. RalphJr

    RalphJr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Fresno California
    63
    15
    8
    Hi Ralph:

    I have been talking to Patricia and she is getting some prices together for me. I have 4 friends that are talking about joining us so I am also looking into a charter. One of my friend's wife is not thrilled with long boat rides but if the consencous here is that the dive sites in the south are worth the rides then we may be able to swing her that way. Right now it is all just talk. the only thing that is booked are mine and my wife's flights to BZE on November 6 leaving on the 14th.

    So comon folks lets hear your opinions on the dive sites! Don't just lurk around in the background. I value everyones opinions. and Ralph wants you to vote south!

    Thanks,
     
  4. Downing

    Downing Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Portland, Oregon
    1,892
    629
    113
    I haven't been to either one yet--headed to Placencia in June to dive with Splash--but my understanding is that San Pedro and Placencia are very different top side, which is something you may want to consider.

    San Pedro is where most tourists go and, as such, there's more "nightlife" there. Placencia is smaller and supposed to be more laid back.

    I don't know if you're planning on doing any of the usual mainland stuff like jungle tours, Mayan ruins, but these are more accessible from Placencia than San Pedro.

    Although long boat rides can seem like a downside, having lunch on a Belizean caye is a unique and wonderful experience and makes the ride more than worth it.

    I don't think there's really a right or wrong choice here. I've been to the northern part of Belize twice in the last three years, which is why this summer I'm headed to the south.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  5. Edward3c

    Edward3c Instructor, Scuba

    1,958
    1,175
    113
  6. Gaz

    Gaz Dive Resort

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Belize
    548
    6
    18
    Diving off Ambergris is quick and easy with most dive sites being only 5-15 minutes from shore so if you don't want to be stuck on a boat all day then Ambergris is the obvious choice for easy close to shore diving, plus Ambergris is a lot cheaper to dive, compared to Placencia so if you are on a budget then Ambergris is the more economical choice with comparable diving.

    $75.00 per 2 tank dive Ambergris Caye
    $95-$125 per 2 tank dive Placencia


    A typical Ambergris dive scenario is you head out for your first dive and will be in the water within 15 minutes of leaving shore, conduct your dive and then back on the boat and head back to shore to spend your surface interval onshore, that is unless you head out to the Marine Park where the surface Interval is done at Shark Ray Alley (great photo op)

    Ambergris Caye offers you the chance to do up to 4 dives a day and a night dive if you wish although there is only one night diving spot which is the cut at Hol Chan (excellent night dive even better if caught on neap tide)

    2 dives are normally completed by lunchtime and you have the afternoon to do something else or go on another 2 dives.

    Mainland trips are also easy from Ambergris with almost daily trips to Cave Tubing, Mayan Ruins etc

    Placencia as mentioned is a lot further away from shore and takes typically 45 minutes to an hour out to the dive sites depending on boat and dive site selection and you will be out for most of the day to do your 2 dives and its 25%-40% more expensive so based on your post about budget then Ambergris is the better fit as the diving is no better off Placencia than it is off Ambergris.

    Placencia has better beaches than Ambergris and is also closer to some mainland spots but as far as the diving its comparable to Ambergris Caye.

    I know you said don't recommend the atolls BUT I have to mention it and make sure you know that if you choose Placencia or Ambergris that is NOT where the best diving in Belize is located and while both have some very nice dive spots its NOTHING IN COMPARISON to the Atolls of Turneffe, Lighthouse Reef, Glovers and really the diving is night and day.

    The diving at those 3 locations blows away anything that Ambergris Caye or Placencia can offer you and while it may be out of your budget it is important that you are informed as to where the best diving is located in Belize so you can make an informed choice especially as you have dove in location such as Palau.

    When I operated my resort in Belize I had so many experienced divers that were less than happy with the diving off Ambergris not because its bad it is not, but that there expectations were more after reading about how fantastic Belize diving is and they said they wished they had known before coming to Ambergris that the best diving was located at the Atolls.

    When you take into consideration on the Atoll resorts that all meals 3 dives a day night dive etc etc are all included it really is not much more than taking a regular package to either Ambergris or Placencia and the diving is 100 times better.

    Also I have to ask where else have you dove other than Palau (great trip report by the way) reason I ask is if you have dove other great places I really have to direct you towards Belize Atolls as I don't feel the diving will keep you happy either off Placencia or Ambergris if you are a really experienced travelled diver. (Of course every diver is different)

    If you want to dive the very best of Belize then I have to recommend the atolls of Belize if you just want to get wet and have a nice dive holiday with nice diving then Placencia or Ambergris will fit the bill.

    I have included a link to dive sites explanations off Ambergris Caye for your perusal there are also dive site descriptions from other locations also on my site and a poll of the top 5 dive sites off Ambergris.

    Dive Sites Off Ambergris Caye

    You may also be interested in a video I put together called

    Ambergris Caye Is it Right For You


    Ambergris Caye and Placencia are nice locations offering Nice diving and both have some very unique attractions ie Whale Sharks Placencia and some Great Nurse Shark action on Ambergris and both locations are best suited to beginner to intermediate divers. for experienced divers that have traveled extensively to other exotic dive locations and have a lot of dives under there belt, then from experience nothing but the Atolls of Belize will keep them happy.

    I'm in the middle of a major overhaul of my website and will be adding videos for Placencia and the Atolls shortly so feel free to check back

    Best regards

    Dive Safe

    Gaz Cooper
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011
    JUSTIN44 likes this.
  7. Hank49

    Hank49 Solo Diver

    8,857
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    Diving is better in the south. We have nice walls.
    Spur and grooves in Ambergris. It's decent but when I came here from the Philippines in 99, I did my first dive at Tackle Box or one of the main sites in Ambergris and I remember thinking, "this is it"?
    But, for the better wall dives off Placencia, you do pay the price of long and sometimes rough boat rides.
    If I was coming just for diving and not land based activities, I'd go for Glovers. Turneffe has more fish....at least where I go, but Glovers has the bluest, crystal water... I think because it's just a reef and doesn't have the big mangroves covering it like Turneffe. Really nice.
     
  8. Gaz

    Gaz Dive Resort

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Belize
    548
    6
    18
    Can't argue on the Glovers reccomendation Hank some of my favorite diving has been out at Glovers, and its been a while since I last dove there but I remember the deep Blue Blue water for sure.

    That is the thing with divers, lol you can take a boat of divers to one dive site wherever and get different opinions on what they think of the diving and as for tackle box that dive is now one of the best on Ambergris cause of the fish life that is there, back in 99 I would agree with you nothing particulary special about it but today, its one of the most popular dives off Ambergris and gets very good diver feedback.

    Like you say it really depends on what a diver wants out of their vacation, if it just to dive the best available, then it has to be the Atolls without question, if wanting to combine a few things like mainland trips and some other activities other than just diving, then Ambergris or Placencia would fit the bill.

    Gaz Cooper
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  9. RalphJr

    RalphJr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Fresno California
    63
    15
    8
    Gaz and Hank49:
    Thanks for the input. We have dove all over the world GBR, Palau, Hawaii, Cozumel, St. Thomas, Bahamas, and lessor destinations. We dive the west coast of California most often. We Dive Monterey Bay, Point Lobos, Catalina and the other Channel Islands. We can jump in our car, eat breakfast on the way, drive to the Monterey Bay area make two dives and be back home for dinner. My wife loves cold water diving because of the diversity of marine life there. I made sure she learned in cold water first and it worked. I have a cold water dive buddy!

    I often tell people this and I mean it. I can swim out to a spot in the ocean; drop down and make a one hour dive in a 10' x 10' space and not see every thing that there is to see. So many divers just rush on by stuff without ever seeing what is there! The only dive I have ever considered a bad one is when the visibilty gets down to where you have to hold hands so you do not lose your buddy. Even then you have an opportunity to work on your navigation skills. We do not have dry suits yet but they are on the list since Alaska diving is on our bucket list. Right now 48 degree water is the limit we can handle and that is a single dive temperature, above 55 and two dives is no problem. We have Henderson Custom Hyperstetch 7MM wetsuits with 5MM hood and vest.

    Anyhow back to Belize, Gaz if you had to choose between Ambergris Caye or Placencia based soley on the dive sites that can be reached regardless of the boat ride time which would you choose?
     
  10. Gaz

    Gaz Dive Resort

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Belize
    548
    6
    18
    Hey Ralph

    You sound just like me as far as diving is concerned Im off to the Maldives in april and Galapagos again in September really looking forward to those.

    I spent 18 years diving around Belize mainly in the North but plenty of trips to the south also, and I think you would be happy in either location based on what you just said, as to my preference it might be a bit biased as i spent the majority of my diving career diving North Belize although on my many trips south I really enjoyed the diving especially Glovers of course, I have dove around Laughing Bird Caye, and up near Tobbaco Caye and also the silk cayes from toledo years ago and the diving is nice but certainly not any better or worse than Ambergris Caye.

    My personal preference between the 2 would be Ambergris, ONLY because of the long sometimes bumpy boat rides from Placencia out to the reef each day (it can get tiring after a few days) I prefer the shorter 5-10 minute boat rides and really the diving in both locations if were honest is not really that much better at either location so it really, only boils down to the long boat rides and the extra cost as all else remains equal.

    Now saying that I would take the long boat ride every day to dive Glovers and Dive with the Whale Sharks just as I would to get to Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe, because the diving is that good, but for just nice local reef diving I would choose the closer dive sites, shorter boat trips, and less cost.

    My personal view on the best way to Dive Placencia and Ambergris Caye for divers that are visiting those locations is as follows

    Placencia

    Visit during Whale Shark Season and do a couple of days diving with the Whale Sharks and then a couple of days diving around Laughing Bird caye or Silk Cayes and then a day trip to Glovers, and on the day before departure do mainland trip such as Monkey river, that would be an Awesome Itinerary and would ensure you dive the best the area has to offer while taking full advantage of the time you are there.

    Ambergris

    3 days local reef diving incorporating dive at Hol Chan Marine and M&M Caverns and the top dive sites of Ambergris and then an Offshore trip to The Elbow at Turneffe and or a Day trip out to the Blue Hole/Lighthouse Reef and then a trip into the mainland on the day prior to departure, that would be an Awesome Itinerary for Ambergris Caye.

    Thats is if divers don't want to either do a Liveaboard or stay at one of the remote Atoll resorts that would be the best scenario for each of those location to ensure you get the absolute maximum out of both locations.

    If you decide on Placencia Ralph just be sure to go to Glovers Reef for the day, during your stay it really is fantastic there.

    Gaz Cooper
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011

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