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Dive Review of Blackbird Resort in
Belize/Blackbird Caye

Blackbird Resort, Apr, 2005,

by Carmen Thomas Morse, ID, USA . Report 2062.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 75 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limits and time limits
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The diving at Blackbird is better than it was in 1999 following the hurricane that produced large mudslides in Guatemala and Belize. The sponges and corals in places are incredible (the sponges more so than the corals). While we did not see squadrons of mantas, we reliably saw 1-2/day, and some adult/juvenile combinations. We also saw a number of nurse sharks and many sea turtles (some of which were huge!). The weather was windy while we were there, making for some choppy surface conditions and challenging boat entrances and exits. We lucked out in our timing and there were only 3 other couples on the caye while we were there. Regardless, the staff took great care of us both on land and on/in the water. The divemaster, Elias, was superb. The acting manager, Ken, was fantastic. When we arrived, we were assigned to a cabana with older furnishings, thatch roof, and a not very cooperative bathroom and sparking air conditioner. When we told Ken about our concern about the combination of thatch roof and sparking air conditioner, he immediately switched us to another room that had more modern appliances (and a non-sparking air conditioner).

Blackbird now charges an additional fee to visit the Blue Hole ($70/person for us), which was not represented to us before our arrival. They also attempt to size the boat according to the number of divers making the trip. They almost had us and 2 other couples make the trip in their regular, uncovered dive boats instead of in their larger, covered boat. When we explained that we had paid the fee and did not want to roast in the sun for that long without a canopy for protection, they changed their mind and we took the larger boat to the Blue Hole. Visibility was poor at the Blue Hole, only 20-40 feet. There were many boats and divers in the Hole while we were there, which detracted from the experience. The reduced visibility seems to be from suspended material in the water and no one was sure of its source. We encountered at least 1 bull shark in the Hole along with the usual black tipped, which made for an edgier dive.

Currents were relatively strong at the Elbow, and we dove that site the morning after an intense rain. The flush of fresh water resulted in a visible pool of opaque water slowly moving through the saltier sea water. Net result was reduced visibility on the dive, but we still saw 2 bottlenose dolphins and some good pelagic fish. No hammerheads, however, which are supposedly regulars at this site. This is probably not a good dive for beginners, but should be enjoyable for those with some experience.

The resort has added an airstrip to facilitate travel between their place and select partner resorts on the mainland. They had to clear a fair amount of vegetation from the caye to put the airstrip in, and the strip is not that much above sea level. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts and whether it disrupts the movements of the crocodiles in the lagoon (if anyone monitors this). It also appears to have been built with insufficient sediment capture devices, and looks like it will 'bleed' sediment into the adjacent lagoon and shoreline. I hope I am wrong about this. Regardless, I hope the resort will monitor this and fix any problems that may impair or detract from a diving experience.

Overall, a good trip, and we recommend this resort. Their staff is friendly and capable, and the dive sites look to be in good shape. Food quality has decreased since we were last there in 1999 - its was more bland and with fewer offerings, but that may have been due to the few guests there.
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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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