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Dive Review of Itza Lodge in
Belize/Lighthouse Reef Atoll

Itza Lodge: "New management, saltwater crocs, groping groupes and shark petting", Sep, 2017,

by Clem Clapp, AL, US (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 9825 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I was a bit leary of visiting such a remote place for with no air conditioning the first time with a new lodge manager and dive crew just in time for low season. With Lighthouse Reef Atoll being close to a 50 mile, 2 hr. boat ride from the mainland and with no other resorts out there or on Long Caye (the tiny Huracane next door was closed) we were pretty much stuck with them for at least 4 days when the next boat out was scheduled. My concern was quickly proven to be unfounded and with a regular on-shore breeze and fans in the room, the ac was really a non-issue for me and ac addicted son-in-law.
Mary, who has been with the lodge for a while, has apparently taken over for the previous lodge manager and things went quite well, including the meals and rooms. The most pleasant Michelle, the owner’s wife, was on board digging through the records before she left for good in a few months. Elvis now runs the dive op with help from his uncle Glenford and things couldn’t have run smoother. Itza Lodge lived up to its dive lodge design as we enjoyed 21 boat dives (6 at additional cost to the normal reservation number) during our one week visit in September. We were most fortunate to be the only two guests for the week so we were really spoiled by the wonderful staff both above and below the water. A small electrical issue in the room led to them offering my son-in-law and I separate rooms which was a really nice touch.
Getting there went a bit smoother than I had anticipated. By previous arrangements, a most friendly Moses met us at the airport following baggage pickup with an Itza sign. A $30.00 van ride later we were deposited at the Ramada Princess Hotel dock to await our 2 hr. boat ride out to Long Caye on Lighthouse Reef Atoll. The lodge’s cook, Placido, and his wife met us and agreed to watch our luggage while we caught lunch which was a very nice meal at the Calypso dockside restaurant. Elvis and Glenford picked us up in a 24 ft. open outboard boat which proved to be our dive boat for the week. The 2 hr. run through open water, then across Turneffe Atoll, then more open water to the lodge was an easy ride. Our return a week later was the same with Moses again meeting us in Belize City for transportation to the airport. This transition went very smooth and was all arranged through the lodge.
Most all of the dives were wall dives on Half Moon Wall, Long Caye Wall and Hat Caye. The Blue Hole, a 20 minute ride away, was deep and dark with huge stalagmites and stalactites and a couple of sharks just as the last time I was there in May.
Back at the lodge we enjoyed a neat night dive with a playful octopus, daring lobster and a single blooming coral. We also did a dawn dive at Eagle Ray Bowl, one of the Long Caye Wall sites. Critters seen were 3 lion fish, 3 green morays, banded coral shrimp, small trunk fish, lots of schooling creole wrasse, spotted and banded butterfly fish, several types of parrot fish, fairy basslets and others. I asked about doing some night dives along the 100 yd or so long pier at the lodge but was discouraged due to the afternoon and nocturnal presence of the 3 resident saltwater crocs. We saw at least one of these regularly and saw their tracks each morning that went from the beach and across the sand next to the dive shop into a mangrove lagoon.
Of the 7 dives completed on Half Moon Wall sites, gray reef sharks made an appearance on each one and even circled us for the entire dive on one. I think there were a total of 6 different sharks with 4 of the regulars being named by the locals including Scarface with 2 scars on top between his eyes and dorsal, Dot who had been banded in the dorsal, Big Mama who was a really big animal and Freckles, a 7 footer, who visited on every one of these dives and on two occasions came close enough to be rubbed by the two of us. All the dives on this wall were simply wonderful. We had either sharks, eagle rays or turtles on each dive and even all three on the Chain Wall site. On a couple of the dives we had huge groupers following us around like puppies with one begging to be rubbed both on its back and belly.
The sites along the nearby Long Caye Wall were just as interesting as the Half Moon Wall with the exception of the number of reef sharks. A couple of nurse sharks made their appearance, plus a number of sting rays, huge school of wrasse, a goodly number of lobsters and crabs, a few of them huge, as well as a variety of reef fish such as a juvenile drum fish, spotted butterfly fish. Garden eels were common in the sand as were spotted and striped goat fish, hog fish, large grey angels, green morays and even had green, spotted and golden tail morays on one site.
This was some really great wall diving. With the exception of a couple of days of wind trashed viz, you could see normally 75 to 100 ft. The best part of all was the wall started at 25 to 30 feet. We hardly ever went below 70 ft. I think my deepest (to look at a turtle and eagle ray) other than the Blue Hole was 65 feet or so. There was simply no reason to go any deeper. The water temp at depth was always around 85 degrees which allowed for swim suit diving for an ez-to-get-hot old fat guy.
Since most of the sites were just a few minutes away surface intervals were generally completed back at the dock, however, a few times we did them as a snorkel. One was done on Hat Caye, the manmade Caye south of Long Caye of about an acre or so that was supposedly built by a conch fisherman who simply kept piling up conch shells as a reef and let sand fill it in naturally. He eventually built a small shack to use and it still remains. There’s no telling how many thousands of the shells were used to create that island. When we snorkeled off a little beach on the south side of Half Moon Caye we encountered a lemon shark, a huge school of striped sardines, a sting ray, a good mix of tropicals and a very well hidden in the open spotted scorpionfish. Off the shallow reef east of Long Caye we enjoyed a 10 minute encounter with a school of squid in some really clear water.
This will go down as one of my favorite dive trips. The location was unique, fine accommodations and food, the dive boat was adequate, the dive guys just super, a bunch of sharks, eagle rays and turtles, wonderful diversity and abundance of critters and not a bad dive in the 21 we enjoyed. For an out-of-the-way neat place to dive it is hard to beat.

Websites Itza Lodge   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Mostly Caribbean
Closest Airport Belize City Getting There Catch taxi at airport to dock for boat to lodge. ez

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy, no currents
Water Temp 85-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 75-100 Ft/ 23-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions It's your vacation. Stay together. On board w/500 psi.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 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]
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Report currently has 3 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Greg Bruce in WA, US at Oct 10, 2017 11:39 EST  
Thanks for such a great and detailed report. How was the food at the resort?
By report author: Clem Clapp in AL, US at Oct 10, 2017 13:05 EST  
Mainly very well prepared Belizean fare. The chef, Placido, took great care in presentation as well as variety of food. Plenty of fruit juices and fruit such as pineapple, banana and the largest and sweetest mango I've ever had. Elvis, the dive shop guy, went spear fishing several afternoons so we had plenty of fresh fish. The chef had some very nice fish meals for us. A couple of times some things may have been a bit overcooked but overall the food was plentiful and delicious.No complaints from either of us.
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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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