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Dive Review of Belize Aggressor III in
Belize

Belize Aggressor III: "Belize Aggressor III", Apr, 2018,

by Gregory Bruce, CA, US (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 16 Helpful votes). Report 10322 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments After many trips to Cozumel, Bonaire and Grand Cayman, I had been thinking for some time about a new Caribbean dive destination. I have read lots of trip reports on SB and reader reports on Undercurrent about land based and live aboard based Belize trips over the last few years and I concluded that for my desires, a live aboard would be my preference. I came across a 34% off special being offered by Diviac (now PADI Travel) on the Belize Aggressor boats. There were only a few spots left on the BA III for the dates that worked best for me, so I booked. We upgraded to the master stateroom on the boat and happy we did. We arrived a day early to ensure we had no baggage issues. We stayed at the Radisson Fort George hotel, which is adjacent to the pier where both Aggressor boats are docked. All the staff were extremely helpful and enjoyable to be around. We were afforded a late checkout of 2pm, which was nice since we couldn’t board the boat until 3pm. They even wheeled all our luggage over to the boat. Room was clean, shower was hot and with good pressure and the AC, TV and WIFI worked well, albeit the AC was a tad loud.
BOAT STUFF: I absolutely love the ladder for getting back into the boat. It is wide, it is sturdy and it is long and sits perfectly deep into the water for standing right on it and walking up. There are 8 bunk rooms on the lower deck. All with bunk beds and one master stateroom on the top deck adjacent to the captain’s quarters and the wheelhouse. It has an oversized full size bed (between a queen and full). This is where my wife and I stayed and we loved it. The dive deck is spacious and on the aft and has two very nice warm outdoor showers. There is 1 bathroom on the dive deck. We really could have used 1 more. The salon and dining area is ample for the number of guests and well air conditioned. Food was good, if not a tad salty at times and plentiful. The upper deck is a sun deck with lounge chairs, a Jacuzzi that can seat 3-4, the master stateroom and wheelhouse and another sun deck above that.
Day 1
We boarded the boat at 3pm on Saturday. First order of business was to find a dive station and unpack our dive gear and set it up. Each dive station has a dedicated bin for mask and any other miscellaneous gear not attached to the BCD. After gear set up, we were escorted to our room and given a nice orientation to the room. After that, it was a bit of milling around, walking the boat to get familiarized and chit chatting with other guests until about 6pm when we had a group/boat orientation and formal introductions to staff and other guests. Dinner was served shortly thereafter around 7pm. We had a pretty eclectic group. 2 Italians, 1 Brazilian, 2 French and 12 North Americans from Florida, Washington, California, Illinois and Nevada.
Day 2
The boat left the dock at 5am and we powered to Turneffe Reef. Continental breakfast gets going around 5:30am and the full hot breakfast at 7am. The dive briefing began at 8am with a detailed briefing of the dive site. Dive site for the morning dives was Sandy Slope. It was basically as it sounds. A Sandy Slope from the mooring pin at 30 feet to about 105 feet. This was an unimpressive dive site. Some random coral heads, lots of sand, not much sea life. Made for an easy enough check out dive to begin the trip, but otherwise, I was ready to move off this site as soon as possible; but the SOP is 2 dives per dive site in the morning, then 2 afternoon dives + the night dive at a different site. Dives 3, 4 and the night dive #5 of the day had us move a mile south to a site called Zipline. Not sure why it was called that. It was like Sandy Slope. Coral heads and sand in between. Despite the less than spectacular aesthetics of the dive site, we had some nice encounters here and particularly on the night dive. We had an incredible 10- minute Octopus encounter; pair of spotted morays out hunting, a slipper lobster, a huge southern ray, big scorpion fish, free swimming green moray, a cute as could be balloon fish and the coolest thing I have ever seen, but no idea what it is, so we called it the “KILTED ANEMONE CRAB” it was a crab inside a plaid colored shell with 3 tube anemones attached to its shell. The night dive concluded with the staff providing hot chocolate w/ or w/o some creamy rum.
Day 3
We motored through the evening and woke up on day 3 at Lighthouse reef. Dives 1 and 2 for the day were at Hat Caye Wall. The first dive, we went north on the wall and the second dive we went south. Both directions made for enjoyable dives and were very reminiscent in topography, coral and reef life to Northern Bonaire dive sites like 1,000 Steps, Karpata and Candyland. The northern wall was much more steep and dramatic with potential depths well below recreational level. A spotted eagle ray and numerous turtles were the highlights. Dives 3, 4 and 5 on the day were at Quebrada. A gorgeous dive site. A stunning wall dive and outstanding shallows as well. Dramatic scenery. The wall was covered in sea fans and various sponges. We saw turtles, a small nurse shark sleeping in a tiny cutout, huge crab, more octopus, squid, barracuda, morays, lots of the typical Caribbean reef fish, etc. Super healthy. One of the better Caribbean dive sites I have experienced.
Day 4
Dive 11 of the trip was Tuesday morning at the Blue Hole. We arrived at 8:30am and had no other boats or divers in the area. The plan was for a group dive with 2 dive masters leading the group. One in front and one bringing up the rear. Just prior to descending over the edge we saw a small reef shark and a large grouper to our right. The descent was quick and uneventful arriving at 133 feet and working our way in and around the stalactites before a nice controlled ascent back up the wall to our drop point. We were back up at 30 feet at about the 23-minute mark and then spent the next 15 minutes off gassing at 15-20 and looking at small stuff in the eel grass. After the Blue Hole dive, we made our way to Half Moon Caye for a walking tour on the island to see the red footed boobie birds, iguanas, frigate birds and land crabs. Back on the boat after the 1 hour island excursion, we anchored at Half Moon Caye Wall for the afternoon and night dives. Our first Caribbean reef shark sightings were here at Half Moon Caye Wall. 1 small and 1 rather large reef shark made several passes back and forth along the wall. The night dive had an inordinate amount of lion fish on the reef. We also had a nice sighting of a giant barracuda out hunting. Some brightly colored brittle stars on a red sponge were also a highlight. There were several stingrays in the eel grass as well. I really enjoyed this dive site, as it had numerous fun swim-through’s going from the sandy shallows at 35 feet and dropping maze like down to the wall at 58 feet or so.
Day 5
We relocated to the south side of Half Moon Caye to a dive site called Angel Fish Wall. Another gorgeous wall dive. Early in the dive, I found myself leisurely following a spotted eagle ray down to 113 feet. We also had several reef shark sightings as we went east on the wall on the first dive of the morning. Lots of good sized groupers on the wall also. Dive 16, also on Angel Fish Wall, I decided to go west on the wall to see what it had in store and it didn’t disappoint. Numerous reef sharks, a large and ancient loggerhead turtle and lots of groupers. The wall is dramatic, quite vertical. For the afternoon, we moved over to Long Caye and did our 2 afternoon dives and night dive at Long Caye Wall. The afternoon dives were uneventful. The top of the wall was fishy with lots of juvenile fish of various types, but other than that, nothing much to speak of. The night dive was much better with an extended octopus sighting, a very large scorpion fish and the highlight was a face to face encounter with a 7-foot reef shark that came up over the wall suddenly and right at me.
Day 6
The morning of Day 6 saw us move to Painted Wall. It was a beautiful wall if you went left once off the boat and at the wall, which I believe was west- I forget. Anyway, the first dive of the morning, we chose to go right and it was barren and uninspiring. The 2nd dive to the left was like being in a completely different place. Between 35-60- feet on the wall was the sweet spot with an abundance of gorgonian sea fans and large orange elephant ear sponges like in Cozumel. Lots of nooks and crannies and ledges to peer into. Various morays and a spotted eagle ray and lots of juvenile and small fish. The afternoon dives had us moving an hour or so back over to Turneffe Atoll. The first dive was called Jhonny’s Wrench. It was a completely dead and algae ridden dive site. Absolutely nothing positive to be spoken about it. The entire boat complained and encouraged the captain to pull up anchor and try our luck elsewhere. No one could imagine doing another dive there, much less that and a night dive there. He was reluctant and didn’t really want to and said it may not be any better somewhere else, to which the refrain was, “we will take our chances, it can’t be any worse.” So, we moved to a dive site called Grand Bouge. It was a definite improvement, but still uninspired. The wall had good visibility and much more marine life than the previous site. The reef was still shattered and dead. When we came back to the boat, the visibility turned to pea soup with a type of algae bloom. We could hear the boat, but couldn’t see it at all. We finally made out the shape of the dinghy trailing behind the boat when we reached safety stop depth. We had very poor hopes for the night dive, but it turned out well. The boat was sitting in 40 feet of water over sand and coral heads. The top 20 feet was still layered with algae bloom, but below that, the viz was good and we had a nice dive.
Day 7
The last dive day consisted of 2 morning dives and the first one got going at 6:15am. We were moored still at Turneffe Reef and the dive site was Amber Head. Under the boat, it was 15 feet. There was a sloping wall to the north of the boat that began in 35-40 feet and very gently sloped down. I hit 110 feet and turned around and made my way back up slope and cruised around. It was basically a bunch of coral heads. I made my way back under the boat and explored there. The second dive of the morning and last of the trip was after breakfast and after settling final bills (Nitrox @ $100 per person, per week, Marine Park fee @ $110 per person, Tip and any other incidentals). Only 3 of us ended up doing all 26 dives on offer and we descended and cruised around taking pics underneath the boat for 45 minutes. Never went deeper than 20 feet. After the last dive, it was time to clean the gear and get it up on the top deck to start drying off and chill out until lunch. We cruised back from Turneffe Reef to Belize City and arrived there at 12:30pm. There was a 6pm cocktail party to end the trip, followed by one last night on board docked at the pier. Everyone was off the boat by 8am.
Conclusion: It was an enjoyable trip and everyone on the boat, from fellow divers to the crew were all competent and enjoyable to be with for a week. We had an even mix of male and female and age ranges were 30’ to 70’s. I don’t see myself coming back to Belize to dive again. Cozumel, The Caymans and Bonaire are considerably better Caribbean options, in my opinion. The best diving was out in the Lighthouse Reef area around Hat Caye and Half Moon Caye. I didn’t find any of the dives around Turneffe Reef worth returning to for any reason. I did enjoy the live aboard aspect of it. Due to 34% discount, it was a good value trip.
Websites Belize Aggressor III   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Thailand, Vietnam, Channel Islands, So Cal Coast, Pacific NW, Monterey-CA, Grand Cayman, Bonaire, Belize
Closest Airport Belize City (BZE) Getting There Flew from Los Angeles via Houston on Southwest

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 80-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-90 Ft/ 12-27 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions. Option to follow guide or do your own thing. Back on board with 500 PSI. Communicate once back on boat your dive time and max depth for ship's log.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Nice setup for photography. Big tables to store and dedicated water tank
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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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