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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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April 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Itza Resort, Long Caye, Belize

great lodge, great diving

from the April, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

Nothing like the standard-issue rum punch welcome drink to brighten my eyes after an arduous travel day beginning in Detroit and ending with a long, pleasant 50-mile boat ride to Lighthouse Reef, the most distant atoll in Belize's Barrier Reef. I was immediately impressed with the three-year-old, 24-unit Itza Lodge, built of tropical woods, and their fine staff, but would the diving match?

I got "yes" for my answer on Day Two as I dived "Playground" off Half Moon Caye. I stepped off the stern of the 40-ft. twin-diesel dive boat, then kicked over the sand flats to the wall, lingering behind the other six divers to play with garden eels and rosy razor fish that disappeared under the sand at the point of my finger. At the wall, I was greeted by a six-foot reef shark that ignored the herd of divers admiring her muscle and grace. As I checked holes and ledges with my light, pausing to study arrow blennies, divemaster Mario Sánchez shook his rattler as another Caribbean reef shark passed, one of five on this dive. An avalanche of Creole wrasse poured down a sand chute and swirled around me, giving me a tingle. Gliding out of the next chute into the blue, an eagle ray sailed effortlessly with no wing flapping -- I wondered what was propelling it.

Three-year-old Itza Lodge is built of tropical woods

I was delighted to see many mature Nassau groupers, which have been fished to near-extinction throughout much of the Caribbean. They even allowed divers to pet them. (Later I asked Mario if this was due to feeding; he said not, but I'll reserve judgment.) They were not the only big fish in this protected reserve: black and tiger groupers were much in evidence, and a big dog snapper passed by at my two-minute stop at 60 feet that Mario required on deep dives. Since this was a checkout dive for tomorrow's 140-foot Blue Hole dive, Mario had led us down to 115 feet. For sure, one of my best-ever Caribbean dives....

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