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Dive Review of Aqua Dives/Sun Breeze in
Belize/Ambergris Caye

Aqua Dives/Sun Breeze, May, 2007,

by mary Wicksten, TX, USA . Report 3334.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Fiji, Palau, Yap, Hawaii, Galapagos, Cozumel, Caymans, Bonaire, W. Canada, California, W. coast Mexico, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 20 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive guides stated time and depth limits but did not enforce them and even violated them. Even when a diver went down to close to 150 feet, there was no penalty.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments I still shoot film with a TTL Nikonos V. Got some really fine shots of colorful life on the walls, but then I shoot a close range--3 ft. or so. Anything at a distance (reef sharks, eagle ray, etc.) was "foggy" due to silt or plankton in the water. Boats carry a cooler full of water for cameras, guides hand down your camera if asked. No computers, film processing available close by. Film and batteries are available in town but expensive--bring your own. Dive operators appreciate your left-over batteries.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Shallow areas of reefs are recovering from a recent hurricane, but doing well--some live elkhorn and staghorn corals, big pillar corals. Very little bleaching anywhere. Colorful deep-water gorgonians, black corals on walls, fairy and blackcap basslets--great photo ops. Many tropical fish, lobsters, large crabs, all sorts of sponges. Saw hawksbill turtles very close up, also shy eagle rays, big Caribbean ray, loggerhead turtle. Tarpon made a pass, reef sharks in Blue Hole.

Sadly, visibility was very poor due to recent plankton bloom, wind blowing off reef flats. Actually saw clouds of silt pouring over the wall. Scant current, water flat to very slight chop.

For four days, our group mostly had a boat to ourselves. Our guides pointed out some cute animals and showed us some nice tunnels and swim-throughs. There seemed to be an unwritten rule that any shark, pufferfish, turtle or ray should be chased, grabbed at or otherwise annoyed. Although fish feeding supposedly was to be at Shark-Ray Alley, sharks were fed at another site, Esmeralda, and fish at Aquarium and even in Blue Hole. Divers entering the water were mobbed by jacks, snapper and sergeant majors. This gets tiresome very quickly. What does it do to the local fauna?

Our guides seem fixated on getting the maximum time underwater. One had an extra long octopus and urged anyone out of air to use it so that everyone else could stay down even longer. (What would happen if there really were an emergency?) We made long traverses at forty feet or so, well over the reef but below the 15-foot safety stop, which was also made on each dive. We were supposed to go no deeper than a stated depth per dive, but beginners and the guides themselves could be anywhere from 5-15 or more feet deeper. My computer started going into the yellow on a couple of dives--not an immediate problem, but I wonder what other people read on theirs. There is a chamber on the island.

We were eager to go on a night dive in Hol Chan, "inside the reef". Well, yes, but it ends in a notch that goes outside, creating a stiff current except at slack tide. We were not there on a slack tide. Imagine inexperienced divers careening over fire coral and experienced ones overweighting and grabbing sand --you get the picture. We saw some night shrimp, a 100+ pound snapper, sea cucumbers, crabs, and sleeping fish.

On my last day of diving, two of my companions and I joined an open boat for a trip to Blue Hole and nearby reefs. The boat was jam-packed with snorkelers and divers. Three obese divers constantly caused trouble as they heaved their heavy gear over the side, squeezed out the in gate and sank far below everyone else. Then there was the mad rush to get back aboard. Don't hold on to the tag line and wait your turn--take your fins off way back there, thrash around and grab the ladder, then shove two other frantic newbies out of the way while you lurch upwards. One diver got badly "narcked" in Blue Hole. The guides went from being impatient to downright nasty during the trip. Visibility was poor, but at least saw the famous stalactites in Blue Hole, very lovely and colorful life on walls. Lunch at Halfmoon Caye bird Sanctuary very pleasant. Be aware that you must pay a $40 U.S. fee to dive at Blue Hole and neighboring areas.

Used my "off'gassing" day to take boat and bus trip over to mainland and Maya ruins of Lamanai. Trip with "SeaRious Adventures" went through mangrove swamps to village of Bomba, up bumpy road to New River and then to ruins and museum. Guides knowledgeable, had lots of drinks aboard, served breakfast, lunch and snacks. Saw birds, bats, howler monkeys, army ants, 8-foot caiman! Other day trips available. Beware--very little on Ambergris Caye to do except diving, snorkeling, fishing or other water-oriented activities. Saw some ugly scenes developing with non-diving, bored spouses.

Hotel clean, pleasant, right on beach but reef is too far out for a swim. Can snorkel over sea grass beds. Tiled swimming pool, beachside shower handy. Dive shop right next to hotel. Hotel restaurant had very good Japanese food. Alcoholic drinks readily available, but watch out for dehydration! Other restaurants, curio shops, night life within walking distance nearby. Woodcarvings are a specialty, deals available if you shop carefully.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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