A journal on learning to scuba dive with Amigos del Mar, visiting the Belize Barrier Reef, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley in Ambergris Caye, San Pedro - Belize is primarily comprised of cultural experiences and jungle and sea adventures. In the mainland, visitors can experience rivers and waterfalls, jungle trails, trek Mountains, spot diverse wildlife, and visit ancient Maya cities and ceremonial caves. The coast offers beautiful beaches, several islands and atolls, clear turquoise water, pristine marine life, the Belize Barrier Reef, beautiful coral gardens, and of course, the acclaimed Great Blue Hole.
If you ever care to visit the coast, for example Ambergris Caye and snorkelling doesn’t suffice, you must consider diving Belize’s gorgeous underwater world. But first, you must be open water certified and in this article, I will guide you through the process and provide insight.
The PADI Open Water Diver course can be done in 3 days.
The first day is the academic part and it entails individuals watching a five chapter introduction video. How long it takes will depend on an individual’s learning capacity and since I’m a fast learner, it took me 3 hours.
Chapter 1 introduces the student to the underwater world, the dive equipment, scuba systems and preface to the Buddy System. Chapter 2 continues by elaborates on the Buddy System, adapting to the underwater world and respiration. Chapter 3 involves dive planning, problem management and general open water skills. Chapter 4 is all about knowing the dive accessories, your necessary health, breathing air at depth and introduction to dive tables/ computers. And finally, Chapter 5 is an entire overview which finalizes with a PADI course evaluation. It’s not difficult, it just sounds like it is.
The second day is much better! After finishing with the academic material, get ready for fun by experiencing your first true exploration of the sub aqua world.
First there is a confined dive where Eddie the dive instructor at Amigos del Mar reviews what you learned in class and ensures that you most importantly know how to properly breathe, communicate, equalize and also assist if someone encounters underwater issues.
That same day we headed out to dive an area near the Barrier Reef – it was a short dive grazing the coral gardens but oh how spectacular it was! I reassuringly told myself that being underwater is definitely worth the half day of video tutorials.
On the third and final day we headed out to dive the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Since it’s a protected park, the aquatic life there is bountiful and remarkable! In addition to the variety of multi-colored friendly fishes that swarmed us, I spotted a Goliath grouper feeding on spiny lobster, numerous eagle rays, three huge sea turtles kept swimming next to me and a barracuda gazed into my face twice!
At the end of the day, returning to the dock I realised that this was just the beginning of my diving adventure. On my next trip to Ambergris Caye, look out the Great Blue Hole!
Or do you think maybe I should prioritise diving in Placencia with Whale Sharks?
About the writer:
Lorenzo Gonzalez is a marketing representative at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize’s Premier Eco-Lodge located in the Cayo District. Chaa Creek caters to the traveler looking for both physical and intellectual challenges, and the range of programs and activities have been designed to stimulate interest in the environment, culture, natural history, and archaeology of Belize.