Belize Diving Services

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Belize Diving Services
Getaways
Belize
Your Ticket to
Adventure &
Travel Around
the Diving World
A diver soars over the
top of the reef off
Carrie Bow Cay.
adventures await
at these resorts
By Tanya G. Burnett
and Kevin Palmer
acques-Yves Cousteau put Belize
on the map when he explored the
magnificent Great Blue Hole. Ever since,
divers, adventurers and eco tourists
have flocked to this small nation in increasing numbers, lured by lush, exotic
landscapes above and below. The key to
unlocking Belize’s remarkable treasures?
Finding the resort that’s right for you.
J
Tanya G. Burnett
destination primer Average water temp
High 70s in winter, mid-80s in summer
What to wear 3 mm wetsuit in winter;
shorty in summer Average viz 100-plus
feet When to go year-round
padi.com september 2011 57
Getaways
Spotted eagle rays are just one of
the many exciting marine animals
you’ll encounter here.
more of you than showing up. Because of
its location on the southern end of Turneffe Atoll, there are no fewer than 70 dive
sites an easy run from the resort. The
whole region benefits from the atoll’s extensive mangroves, which act as a nursery
for reef and pelagic fish.
Particularly notable is the Elbow, universally acknowledged as one of the
country’s top dives. Timing is critical on
this southern tip of the atoll frequented by currents, but when conditions are
right, the life can be spectacular. Known
The main building at
Turneffe Island Resort.
as a spawning aggregation site, Elbow’s
currents can attract hundreds of horseeye jacks and various snapper and permit
— even mantas and eagle rays can soar
into the picture. And wherever there’s an
abundance of fish, so too is the possibility of predators: Shark, tuna and mackerel
sightings are common, and on occasion
dolphin and billfish can appear.
Since all the diving is close at hand,
surface intervals are always spent back at
the lodge or just lounging on the beach —
without a cell phone to be heard.
110 Foot Wall
a snorkel away from the bar!
• Unlimited 24 hour a day barrier
reef, wall and wreck diving from
your doorstep!
• Ocean front, air-conditioned beach
rooms or over-water bungalows
and cabanas
Turneffe Island Resort
• PADI 5 Star dive shop on site
turnefferesort.com
Turneffe Island Resort, Turneffe Island
A
sublime
private
idyll
that
seems to infect visitors with the
urge to return again and again, these 14
acres of brilliant white sand strung like a
pearl on the reef that is Turneffe Atoll can
make anyone feel light-years from deadlines and responsibility. Sprinkle that sand
with swaying coconut palms, tropical foliage, docks reaching far into the heavenly
aqua and just the right number of wellplaced rooms, and you have the picture of
this carefully crafted lodge.
Only an hour and a half after resort
managers Vanda and Nick Hall meet incoming guests at the airport, the TIR boat
is pulling up to the island’s dock — not bad
for a trip to the edge of the world. Once
on island, guests from far-flung nations
are sorted into rooms and cabanas richly
finished in tropical woods. Notably lacking are televisions and phones — this is a
place to reconnect to natural wonders and
fellow guests while disconnecting from
everything else. (For die-hards, Internet
is available in the gift shop.) The dining continues the theme with communal
tables that encourage the swapping of
fishing and diving tales with equally exaggerated flourish. And when you are
located on the very edge of one of the
TANYA G. BURNETT; OPPOSITE, FROM TOP: NORBERT PROBST/AGEFOTOSTOCK; TANYA G. BURNETT
Take a Trip to the
Edge of the World
Shortnose batfish discovery.
» ON-SITE DIVE
SHOP with PADI
instruction
» STORAGE Overnight for guests
» NEAREST AIRPORT Belize International Airport
(BZE) is 35 miles
away
» ACCOMMODATIONS Twentyone air-conditioned mahogany
cabanas with
indoor and outdoor showers, and
screened patios
with ocean views
» AMENITIES
Restaurant and
two bars on site,
swimming pool,
valet diving, flats
fishing, guided
and unguided
snorkeling,
kayaks, hobie
cats and beach
games, national
park tours
» RESERVATIONS
800-874-0118,
713-236-7739,
[email protected]
resort.com
most celebrated fishing and diving reefs
in the Caribbean, there are plenty of
stories to report.
“The staff at the resort is determined
to make sure the only effort guests expend
is fighting a bonefish or back-rolling to a
dive,” says Vanda Hall. The valet-service
dive operation reflects that attitude, with
personal attention that requires nothing
ROATAN - HONDURAS BAY ISLANDS
1-800-510-8164 • www.cocoviewresort.com • email: [email protected]
The little lodge with HUGE diving!
ISLAND DIVE RESORT
UTILA • HONDURAS BAY ISLANDS
Visit
Roatan.C m
and get a FREE Honduras and Belize Scuba Brochure
Reservations: 1-800-282-8932
Travel Specials Updated Daily at www.roatan.com
email: [email protected]
58 september 2011 sportdiver.com
1-800-282-8932 • www.roatan.com
email: [email protected]
padi.com september 2011 59
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Getaways
Find Your Eco Bliss
Hamanasi Adventure
& Dive Resort
hamanasi.com
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort, Hopkins Village
Resort manager Andrew Usher and his
gregarious local staff have mastered
the ambience of escapism in a way that
keeps guests returning for more. Fresh
fruit and juices flow from the garden in
overwhelming abundance, and provide
the perfect complement to a siesta under
the palms by the pool or sea. After a couple of days at Hamanasi, more than one
guest has been heard to exclaim, “I am
never leaving!”
Enormous stalactites
drip from the Great
Blue Hole; a rock
beauty (top).
Owners Dana and David Krauskopf
have worked tirelessly to create a green
resort, introducing many concepts new
to southern Belize — their efforts have
been rewarded with a Green Globe
Certification and a staff spirit that trickles down to activities in local villages as
well. They’ll gladly point out many of
the efforts implemented on site.
Toby Truelove, head of dive operations at Hamanasi, thrives on the variety
of diving options he has right off his
dock. He runs trips all the way from the
South Water Caye Marine Reserve to
Lighthouse Reef Atoll on special “Blue
Hole Day Trips.”
“I like to dive sites a little differently
than other operators, to maximize enjoyment and photo ops,” Truelove says.
Glovers Atoll — a World Heritage Site
— lies directly east of the resort, providing spectacular diving on Belize’s most
remote atoll. “Glovers has more than 45
miles of drop-offs, pinnacles, massive
elkhorn coral and loads of fish,” Dana
Krauskopf effuses about her favorite
area. “So much of the atoll is unexplored
— we’re still discovering new sites.”
In April, May and June, Hamanasi
runs whale shark encounters around
the time of the full moon, to coincide
with the snapper spawn. Being on the
mainland also makes it easy to organize land adventures for nondiving
spouses and family members when
their diving partners refuse to get out
of the water.
FROM TOP: NORBERT PROBST/AGEFOTOSTOCK; TANYA G. BURNETT; OPPOSITE: COURTESY HAMANASI ADVENTURE & DIVE RESORT
A
rriving at Hamanasi is the kind
of experience that invites a reassessment of the word “paradise.” The
award-winning PADI IDC resort is equal
parts boutique eco-lodge, romantic getaway and first-class dive resort. Its 23
rooms and bungalows are delicately woven into 21 acres of tropical gardens, fruit
trees and barely contained jungle, where
brilliantly adorned birds and blooming
orchids clearly outnumber the guests.
» PADI Instructor Development Center
with PADI instruction to Assistant
Instructor
» BOATS Hanou,
20 divers max;
Big Dipper, 16
divers max;
Belize Adventure,
20 snorkelers or
eight divers max
» GUIDED DIVES
By instructor and
divemaster, max
eight per guide
» MAX DIVE TIME
One hour, longer
if prearranged
» GAS MIX Nitrox
support
» RENTALS Dive
gear, computers
and cameras
» STORAGE Staff
rinses and stores
gear overnight
» NEAREST
AIRPORT Belize
International
Airport (BZE),
about three hours;
Dangriga Airport
(DGA), 45 minutes
» ACCOMMODATIONS Twentythree air-conditioned rooms,
including deluxe
and regular
treehouses
(free-standing
Dive,Drive,
Deluxe,Discover!
units nestled in
coastal littoral
forest; deluxe
have kitchenettes), honeymoon suites,
deluxe and regular beachfront
rooms, with
hand-crafted
NEW ALL-INCLUSIVE 4D VALUE PACK NOW AVAILABLE!
Belizean hardGREAT FOOD! GREAT DIVING! INCREDIBLE SUITES!
wood furnishings,
private porches
4D PACKAGE STARTS AT $
PER PERSON (QUAD)!
with hammocks,
INCLUDES: ALL MEALS & DRINKS* • 11 BOAT UNLTD SHORE
and spacious
6 DAYS VEHICLE • AIRPORT TRANSFERS • TAXES & SERVICE CHARGE
bathrooms
ALL FOR ONE GREAT PRICE…
» AMENITIES
CALL NOW FOR OUR ALL-INCLUSIVE 4D VALUE PACK!
Private dock
and beach;
For reservations please call
training pool and
Toll Free: 1-800-766-6016
Local: (781) 821-6016 Fax: (781) 821-1568
air-conditioned
www.plazaresortbonaire.com
classroom; close
[email protected]
to Glovers and
Turneffe atolls
*CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS APPLY – NO PREMIUM BRANDS & BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER AT THE BANANA TREE, 1 BBQ ON THE BEACH.
and South Water
Caye Marine
ASK
7 Nigh
Reserve, and can
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dive Blue Hole,PlazaResort_034357_SPD0911.indd 1
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arting
at $13
44
Lighthouse Reef
and Gladden
Spit; 50-foot
freshwater
infinity pool;
Singanga
restaurant and
bar; grocery in
Hopkins Village;
Mayan ruins
» RESERVATIONS
501-520-7073,
877-552-3483 or
[email protected]
.com
ALL
food!
drinks!
DAY!
1100
9:45 AM
A PASSION FOR PARADISE.
Award Winning Accommodations and World Class Diving on
Beautiful Little Cayman. Discover the ideal dive vacation at
Little Cayman Beach Resort.
The palm-lined pool is a
perfect siesta spot.
60 september 2011 sportdiver.com
800.327.3835
www.littlecayman.com
padi.com september 2011 61
LittleCayman_031841_SPD0711.indd 1
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Getaways
A Class
by Itself
A Room with a View
Sunbreeze Hotel and Suites, Ambergris Caye
aking the most of a stay on
Ambergris Caye is all about
location. Most people want to be in
touch with San Pedro’s lively scene,
whether to sample a Beliken beer at
one of the local bars or experience the
famous “Chicken Drop Bingo.” Sunbreeze Hotel strikes a perfect balance
with 42 comfy rooms on oceanfront
property on the south edge of town
— quiet enough to soothe but only
a stone’s throw from the action, or
what passes for it on this sleepy tropical island. The hotel ensconces an
inviting garden of sand paths, palms,
wood decking and a freshwater pool.
If guests still aren’t relaxed enough by
the flip-flops-and-tropical-shirt ambience, a visit to the on-site massage and
wellness spa will do the trick. Evening
activity focuses around the Blue Water
Grill and 360 Degree Bar, nestled up to
the ocean’s edge. During the day, virtually any water activity can be enjoyed
right from the hotel dock, and manager
Julia Edwards and her team can help
arrange any diversion on land or sea
that catches a vacationer’s fancy.
Those in a more self-sufficient mood
need look no further than the hotel’s
sister property, Sunbreeze Suites, in
the heart of town. Also located on the
ocean with pool and dock, the 20 suites
are self-contained with kitchens, beds
and sleeper sofas for extra accommodations in the living areas.
The chance to swim
with giant whale sharks
lures many to Belize;
blackedge triplefin, right.
64 september 2011 sportdiver.com
Sunbreeze Hotel
and Suites
Victoria House, Ambergris Caye
O
sunbreeze.net
» PADI DIVE
» ACCOMMODA-
RESORT Belize Dive
Connection with
PADI instruction to
Divemaster
» BOATS Two Newton 46' and one Pro
48' dive boats
» GUIDED DIVES
Max eight divers
per guide
» MAX DIVE TIME
None
» RENTALS Gear
and computers
» STORAGE
On-site storage
» nearest
airport Belize
International
Airport (BZE),
with connections
to Ambergris
TIONS Forty-three
air-conditioned
rooms — choose
from premier,
deluxe or standard — with cable
TV and phone; 20
ocean-view suites
that include living
room, dining room
and fully equipped
kitchen
» AMENITIES
Private white-sand
beach, freshwater
pool, restaurant
and bar on site,
WiFi
» RESERVATIONS
800-688-0191,
[email protected]
.net
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: COURTESY SUNBREEZE SUITES; MARK WEBSTER/AGEFOTOSTOCK; DOUG PERRINE/SEAPICS; OPPOSITE, FROM TOP: TANYA G. BURNETT; PHOTOSHOT HOLDINGS LTD./ALAMY
M
n AMBERGRiS CAye’s southern
end, 42-room Victoria House
is a welcome surprise to those looking
for a quiet, upscale retreat at water’s
edge. The palm-strewn property is
manicured yet casual, combining clean
architectural lines with traditional
thatch-roof casitas. Opportunities for
relaxation abound — Admiral Nelson’s
Bar flows seamlessly to an inviting
infinity-pool area, with hammocks by
the Caribbean just beyond. The casual
elegance that’s a signature of every aspect of the resort from rooms to table
linens adds to the alchemy for honeymooners (and those still pretending).
But a resort doesn’t win accolades
from a fistful of international magazines
and travel writers for setting alone:
“The most often heard compliment I
get is about the people who work at
Victoria House, no matter their position,” says general manager Janet
Woollam. “We’re situated in a beautiful
location offering fine dining and exceptional comfort, but the real magic is the
people who work here.”
This applies just as aptly to Fantasea
Dive Shop, which accesses dozens of
dive sites just a short boat ride from the
on-site pier, from the famous Hol Chan
Marine Reserve in the south to the more
northern sites of Belize’s largest island.
Divemaster Alberto Bradley says
there are too many sites to describe,
but he has some favorites. “Esmeralda’s
A nurse shark
scours the sand off
Ambergris Caye.
Canyons are a marvel to see. They overflow with an amazing abundance of
elkhorn corals, red rope sponges, soft
sea whips and sea fans. The site is also
host to a variety of critters like arrow
crabs, juvenile spotted drums, squirrelfish and scrawled file fish, along with
a multitude of rays and eels.” He raves
equally about Cypress Garden for its
prolific fish life. “Due to the site’s proximity to the marine reserve, you will
find that the undercuts in the reef are
home to nurse sharks, grouper, hawksbill turtles and lots of other large marine
life,” Bradley says. Virtually every diver
Hol Chan Marine
Reserve is only a
short ride from the
Victoria House pier.
enjoys at least one trip to Shark Ray
Alley, less than 15 minutes from the
dock. Cavorting with dozens of nurse
sharks, stingrays and even occasional eagle rays in shallow, sun-dappled
water is just plain fun.
Victoria House’s dive operation follows an easy schedule, in keeping with
the relaxed nature of the resort. Most
two-tank dives depart around 9 a.m.
and are generally back by noon — just in
time for lunch at what many say is the
best restaurant choice on Ambergris
Caye, Palmilla and Admiral Nelson’s,
right on the premises.
Victoria House
victoria-house.com
» FANTASEA DIVE SHOP on
site with PADI instruction
» STORAGE On-site overnight storage for guests
» NEAREST AIRPORT Belize
International Airport (BZE)
is a 15-minute flight
» ACCOMMODATIONS Fortytwo air-conditioned rooms
from staterooms to casitas
to multibedroom villas,
some with full kitchens, two
with private pools
» AMENITIES Free Wi-Fi at
pool and bar; Palmilla
Restaurant and Admiral
Nelson’s Bar on site
» RESERVATIONS 800-2475159, [email protected]
.com
padi.com september 2011 65
Getaways
Take
It Easy
A yellow branching
tube sponge caps a
cushion of brain coral
off Lighthouse Atoll.
Iguana Reef Inn/Belize Diving
Services, Caye Caulker
C
aye Caulker has always had A
unique vibe in Belize. Since the
1970s, it has attracted travelers looking
for a laid-back, quaint, “old Caribbean”
seaside experience. The island mantra above and below the surface is: “Go
slow.” Iguana Reef Inn, on the western
side of this half-mile strip of sand, is one
of the island’s nicest hideaways. Mario
Guizar and Jim Dombrowski launched
the inn in 1998 with the intention of creating a small but polished establishment
to fill a void on the casual caye.
“The concept from day one was to
provide a high level of accommodations
and amenities at a reasonable price,”
Iguana Reef Inn/Belize
Diving Services
iguanareefinn.com,
belizedivingservices.com
» NEAREST
AIRPORT Belize
International
Airport, Belize
City (BZE)
» ACCOMMODATIONS Thirteen airconditioned rooms
and two-bedroom
penthouse condo,
all with verandas
and refrigerator;
deluxe rooms
include sitting
area
» AMENITIES Free
WiFi; on-site bar
and swimming
pool at Iguana
Reef Inn; continental breakfast
included;
kayaks available
» RESERVATIONS
011-501-2260213, iguanareef
@btl.net
66 september 2011 sportdiver.com
says Guizar. Today the vision has been
realized, with 13 oversize rooms and
a beautiful two-bedroom condo embracing spectacular views. Iguana Reef
sits on the water far enough away from
the town’s main sand road to enjoy the
quiet, but close enough for a quick walk
to restaurants and the addictive local
fry-bread.
Belize Diving Services has been a
fixture of the local diving scene for
more than 30 years and offers the most
extensive lineup of dive training in the
country, up to advanced technical diving. The BDS team is right next door
to Iguana Reef and sports a new 46foot Newton dive boat to get you to
your reef of choice in swift, safe comfort. And “choice” is the operative word
when heading out from Caye Caulker
— the closest dive sites are located
in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve,
an easy 10-minute ride from the dock.
The reserve is lush with corals and
marine life, and generally provides a
shallower profile. At the other end of
the spectrum, guests who enroll in
advanced technical-diving courses or
are already certified in extended-range
diving can experience nearby Caye
Chapel Reef, with a wall starting at
160 feet and dropping to more than 300,
a dramatic vista few will ever see. In
between lies an exciting gamut of experiences that BDS owner Chip Peterson
continues to explore and discover.
“Lighthouse Reef on the outer atoll
is well within our dive-boat range and is
home to at least three of the top dives in
the country,” Peterson says. No matter
the adventure, all guests look forward
to a rendezvous back at the Iguana Reef
bar for the last glorious rays of sunset —
and perhaps that elusive green flash.
TANYA G. BURNETT
» PADI Dive Shop
with PADI instruction to Assistant
Instructor
» BOATS Maera,
max 24 divers;
Sea Drops, max
eight divers
» GUIDED DIVES
All dives guided
by instructor or
divemaster
» MAX DIVE TIME
Determined by
no-decompression
limits; can be 40
minutes in winter
» GAS MIX
Nitrox, trimix and
rebreather support
» RENTALS Dive
gear for rent; computer use included
with diving
» STORAGE
Overnight storage
available

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