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Dive Review of Frenchies and Big Fish in
Belize/Caye Caulker

March, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Mike Messick, CO, USA (1 report)
Report Number 4156
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Numerous places in both the ATL and PAC
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy  
Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
1 stars    
First off, the days of Belize being an inexpensive dive destination have
vanished along with the coral reef. For a 3 tank dive with a very plain
sandwich-type lunch, you will pay upwards of $160 US. If the 3 tank dive
includes the Blue Hole, $200 US will be your right of passage (I know, flat
out unreal). Most hotels on Caye Caulker are also very basic accommodations
yet approximate American hotel prices ($80-120/night for a
"Motel6" equivalent). Food is also pricey, even a beer or 2 at
the local supermarket is $2/bottle. So, be forwarned and be prepared to dig
into the wallet. As for the dive operators, Frenchies management and crew
were knowledgeable and nice, but be careful using their rental gear (which
is included in the dive price). We dove with them 2 days, and on the 1st
day 2nd dive my partner (who was using their rental gear) had her pressure
gauge stick at 500psi, and was 30' underwater thinking she had 500psi when
the tank ran dry. Being a neophyte diver with 10-15 dives, she exhibited
great self control and swam to over to me for my octopus rather than
panicking. Luckily it stuck at 500psi near the end of the dive or there may
have been a serious issue at deeper depths. On the 2nd dive day with
Frenchies, incredibly the exact same thing happened (different
regulator/gauge): this time it was 700psi. Again, we were already off the
deep end of the profile and at 35-40' depth. The dive master was close
enough to provide his Octopus as her tank ran dry. Be very careful if using
dive operator gear in Belize!!! Needless to say, we then transfered to a
different operator for our 3rd day (Big Fish), which seemed to have better
quality equipment. Since we were diving the Blue Hole (relatively deep
dive), I donated my gear to my partner so she would feel more comfortable
and used their rental gear (luckily no issues). The diving was decent,
however Big Fish kept us very tightly controlled, which was understandable
for the Blue Hole (at 150') but for the other 2 much shallower dives, I
ended up having to surface with over 1000psi in the tank. I tried staying
down at 35' and combing the reef underneath the other divers while they did
their deco stop, but the dive master continuously banged his tank until I
came up. Very poor job of allowing us to dive our profile, especially on
these shallower dives where visibility was fairly good and I was easily in
range of the group and dive master.

To wrap this up, unless you enjoy paying US prices for low end
accommodations and sub par diving, I would not recommend Belize. The Blue
Hole is unique to be sure, but more of a "check the box" dive
than anything breathtaking or awe inspiring. The rest of the diving is
rather mundane: marine life is present but not abundant, and the cost is
flat out ridiculous for the quality of the diving.  Save your money and
head to Cozumel, or if you have extra greenbacks to spend and want better
diving, head to Roatan or the Caymans (or anywhere else in the Caribbean).
Take some friendly advice: do your research if diving is the main purpose
of vacationing in Belize. I think you'll be glad you did.
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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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