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Dive Review of Blackbird Resort in
Belize/Blackbird Caye

April, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Carmen Thomas Morse, ID, USA
Report Number 2062
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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 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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  
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  
 
 

Overall Rating

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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