SCUBA, Placencia Village
Brian Young is a local Belizian who had a very respected dive shop with local dive masters. The other dive shop which was run by New Yorkers and they were not appreciated by the local populace.
They also offer snorkeling, Mayan ruin, river tours, fishing etc. Whale shark tours are also one of their specialties. Brian's wife supplies lunch to those who don't want to bring their own.
It takes longer to get to the reef from Placencia than it does from the northern cayes. (Although going to the Blue Hole from Ambergris is an even longer trip.)
They have 3 boats. The main boat is a 33ft craft powered by twin 150 Yamaha outboards. This boat is capable of carrying 14 divers. That was the one we used as we had both divers and snorkelers. Brian himself was doing check-out dives at the beach.
The 25ft boat is powered by one 115 hp Evinrude and is capable of servicing four to six divers at one time. The smaller 19ft skiff is powered by a 85hp Yamaha outboard and is capable of carrying two to four divers for a more individualized dive experience. The two smaller boats are also outfitted for fishing and trips up the spectacular Monkey River.
Equipment: I rented a BC, fins and tanks. I brought my own mask, snorkel, regulator and dive computer.
Current rates are:
Wall Diving $75US includes 2 tanks, weights and weight belt ($65US without gear)
Canyon Diving $75US includes 2 tanks, weights and weight belt ($65US without gear)
Shark Hole $100US Includes 2 tanks, weights and weight belt (recommended for advance divers)
Whale Shark Diving $150.00US includes 2 tanks, weights and weight belt, tax, and lunch. PLEASE NOTE: This dive is recomended for advance divers or divers with 25 dives or more.
Faro Diving $75US includes 2 tanks, weights and weight belt. ($65US without gear)
Night Diving $75US includes 2 tanks, weights and weight belt. ($65US without gear)
Snorkeling $40US per person
8% tax additional on all trips.
See the travelogue for more narratives and photos.
The barrier reef along the coast of Belize is the second longest in the world. So diving is a popular activity at the resort towns on the coast. All three of the dive operations in Placencia offer two types of dives: a 2-tank barrier reef dive ($80 USD) and a 2 or 3 tank whale shark dive ($150-180 USD). As much as I would love to see whale sharks (someday I will!), those dives were way too expensive for us.
The barrier reef dives are pretty much the same, no matter which operator you go with. They all have small boats with little shelter from the sun. The trip takes all day and will include lunch at a small island (caye) on the reef.
Our dives on the barrier reef were enjoyable, but unremarkable. We saw the usual assortment of Caribbean critters. The coral was in pretty good shape with the exception of the areas near where the boat dropped anchor. Unfortunately, there are no moorings at the dive sites, so dive boats simply drop anchor on the reef, leaving scars on the coral. As a testament to the piloting skills of the boat drivers, the scars seemed to be more concentrated near the boat and were fewer the farther away we swam. So it seems they try to hit the same spot each time.
Our dives were with Advanced Divers, which has a small shack on the sidewalk near the Cozy Corner restaurant. There is also Seahorse Divers, which has a dive shop on the dock and Natural Mystic Divers, also on the dock. A few of the nearby resorts have in-house dive operations, with larger boats and larger prices ($100 for 2 tanks).
Equipment: We brought all of our own gear, except the tanks & weights. But since we ended up only diving one day, we wished we'd left the gear at home. Advanced would have only charged us an additional $5 USD to rent.