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January 1998 Vol. 13, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Live-Aboard vs. Land-Based

from the January, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A live-aboard dive boat has two distinct advantages over a land-based operation, albeit big ones: (1) you can get to remote sites and (2) you can do more diving. You get more tanks and burn more air by being able to dive on your own schedule once the boat is anchored. Sure, there are peripherals, such as no insects, easier diving, and less gear schlepping, but on land there’s a better opporunity to get away from your diving mates, take walks, explore towns or villages, sit quietly in the sun — and you can arrive any day you want and stay longer or shorter than a prescribed week.

What did our reviewer miss by staying at the land-based Blackbird Caye instead of booking a live-aboard to see Belize’s reefs? He got in three dives a day at a single package price (no premium for the Blue Hole, for example). Most boat rides were 10 minutes or less; even the Blue Hole was less than an hour away, over calm waters. He had spacious, comfortable quarters, lots of lovely beach, no engine noise, and solid land beneath his feet at the end of the day. Plus staff that went out of their way to make his visit comfortable and convenient.

So, while both Peter Hughes and the Aggressor fleet have magnificent craft in Belize, for this trip our reviewer was satisfied with his choice of three tanks a day and a sample of mainland attractions in and around the Mayan jungle, especially because Blackbird Caye let him stay less than seven days to suit his own schedule.

Most of the dive resorts on the outer cayes, such as Manta, Lighthouse, and Turneffe, can give the live-aboards a run for their money, as they are diving essentially the same sites and doing almost as many dives.

Not all choices in Belize would offer such comparabale diving fare. Diving at any of the resorts on Ambergris Caye would not compare with the wilder reefs further to the south.

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