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Dive Review of Ramon's Village Resort in
Belize/Ambergris Caye

Ramon's Village Resort: "Healthy reef, lots of sharks and rays", Mar, 2016,

by Matthew M Gayle, NJ, US ( 1 report with 3 Helpful votes). Report 8861 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 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I've broken my thoughts down into three areas: local dives, Hol Chan, and the Blue Hole day trip.

Local Dives: The dive shop has a number of boats of varying sizes tied to the pier. I am not sure how the dive shop manager assigned divers to boats but we were happy to have been assigned to a boat with dive master Ernest and boat captain Arnold. We dove with them the first day and then continued to dive with them for the duration of our trip excluding a day trip for the Blue Hole (discussed below) and two afternoon dives for which Ernest was not available. We had read mixed reviews of this dive operation online before arriving so we were prepared to walk away and book dives elsewhere if our experience on the first dive was disappointing. Fortunately, it was not. Both Ernest and Arnold were extremely professional and helpful, always gave a thorough pre-dive briefing, always seemed in control, and always seemed aware of safety issues without micromanaging the divers. Local dive sites were 5-10 minutes from the dock, which made getting to and from them easy, even on two days with 6-8 foot swells. The boats used for local dives are smaller, with the protocol for water entry/exit being to walk toward the stern of the boat, sit on the wide/reinforced gunwales on either side, put on fins and mask, be helped into your BC by the crew, put your reg in, then roll off the boat. At the end of the dive, you remove your BC in the water, hand it up to the crew, hand up your fins, and then climb a ladder aboard. I learned to make sure my gear was turned so the tank was between my BC and the boat before it was pulled aboard to avoid my BC (and SPG) from being dragged up the side of the boat.

Visibility at the local dive sites was around 75 feet on most days even when overcast. The reef at most sites seemed to start at about 45 feet, which made it difficult to keep the third dive of the day as shallow as I would have preferred. A typical day would be a first dive to 85-90', a second dive to 60', and a shorter third dive to 45-60' during the third dive. While we went with the current during these local “drift” dives rather than against it, the current was generally pretty weak so staying in place to check something out or swimming back against the current was not a problem. On days with higher winds/waves, surge was more of a factor than the current. There was a great variety of healthy soft and hard corals at each of the local dive sites with numerous smaller reef fish darting about. We did not see the large schools of reef fish we have seen elsewhere but numerous large fish, including rays, skates, nurse sharks, reef sharks, turtles, barracuda, tarpon, permits, etc. The nurse shark population here seemed particularly high, with us seeing an average of 3-4 nurse sharks per dive.

Hol Chan: Hol Chan is the protected marine reserve near Ambergris Caye. A channel cuts through the reef at the site (with the reef reaching the surface on either side of the channel), so the site is like a V with the point of the V being where the fairly narrow channel cuts through the reef, walls of coral along the arms of the V, and a sandy bottom in the middle. The channel though the reef means a large amount of marine life is funneled through this site. Diving is permitted here but requires payment of an extra $10 fee per diver. We did a night dive here as well as a day time dive. The depth at the mooring balls for dive boats is 5-6 feet and the dive site never gets below 30 feet or so. The dive plan everyone seems to follow is to go from the moored boat along one side of the reef toward the channel and then turn around at the channel to go back up the reef on the other side of the channel back to the dive boat. I would absolutely recommend diving this site if you are staying in San Pedro just for the variety of sea life all in one place. Having said that, I highly recommend consulting a tide chart or table to schedule your trip to this site for a slack tide. The dive operators we met seemed unaware that tides can be predicted. There was a moderate current during the night dive we did that prevented us from getting too close to where the channel narrowed (narrower channel = stronger current). During the morning dive we did several days later, the current was quite strong—it took 3 minutes to drift from the boat to the narrowest part of the channel we reached (including swimming against the current to hold position at times) and then 32 minutes to fin our way back to the boat. All of the divers in our group that day were pretty fit but several complained of headaches afterward from the exertion of swimming against the current. In contrast, other divers we met who had been to that site on different days or at different times, including an elderly couple, said they had experienced almost no current and that the dive had been a leisurely swim around a fish bowl.

The Blue Hole Trip (including dives at Half Moon Caye and Long Caye): We booked this trip with Ramon’s though most of the dive operators in San Pedro seem to run the same trip. The Blue Hole was a 2.5 hour ride from San Pedro. At the Blue Hole, our group of eight divers was with two dive masters, one at the head of the group and one in the rear. The dive briefing was thorough with instruction given on what to do if our computers went into “deco” mode, though that was unlikely given our planned time of 3-4 minutes at the max depth of 140 feet. Extra tanks were suspended from the boat in case anyone was short on air during the safety stop, which was extended to 5 minutes in an overabundance of caution. The Blue Hole itself was lovely, with visibility of about 100 feet, and awesome caverns with stalactites and stalagmites at 120 feet of depth. Three sharks were visible approximately 75 feet below us. The second dive of the day was at Half Moon Caye, which started out in a fairly shallow sandy area (full of garden eels), then proceeded along a reef wall, through a short swim-through, and then over the reef back to the boat. This dive was remarkable for the black tipped reef sharks that swam around and circled just below us toward the end of the dive. The final dive was at a site called The Aquarium at Long Caye. The dive began and ended over a fairly shallow reef (25-30 feet) with an extremely dense fish population, with the middle of the dive along the outside wall of the reef. Over 100 fish are visible in a single photo I took of this dive site. Absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately, our experience on the Blue Hole Trip was marred by how the dive masters behaved. During our ascent at the Blue Hole, the dive master at the rear of the group signaled to me to descend to his level, though I was in control of my buoyancy and in fact 10-15 feet below the dive master leading the group and several other divers. When I signaled back that I was OK, he grabbed my fin and pulled me away from by buddy and down to him. He then swam past me without a look backward to grab another diver (who was also in control without any problem) by her BC to pull her down several feet. We made the rest of the ascent without issue, then at the safety stop, the dive master who had been at the front of the group signaled everyone to come closer (I thought) by holding his hands out, palms up, and bringing his fingers in to touch his palms. Another dive buddy pair tentatively moved closer to him (we were already grouped pretty tightly together) as the dive master seemed to become frustrated. He then grabbed one diver’s SPG to read it. Why he didn’t just signal that he wanted to know our remaining air supply I do not know. After that dive, one of the dive masters told a friend (the diver whose BC he had grabbed at depth) that she was carrying too much weight on her weight belt and that he was removing “a bit.” She said she thought her weight was fine but he insisted (and she let him). On the next dive, she was able to descend but unable to stay down once she had used some of the air in her tank. Because she was unable to stop her ascent after exiting a swim-through, her buddy (who was behind her) did not know where she was when he came through the swim-through. Unfortunately, the dive master was not watching divers exit the swim-through and hadn’t seen her go up. Her buddy made a controlled ascent to locate her and fortunately she was fine but the dive was over for them. It turned out the dive master had removed 1/3 of the weight from her weight belt (she should have checked herself but still surprising the dive master would do that). On the third dive of the day, our group crossed paths with another group of divers about 5 minutes into the dive. One of our divers (who did not have a buddy and was supposedly paired with the dive master) become confused and joined the other group of divers. The dive master did not notice until being told afterward on the boat. During the same dive, at 60 feet, the dive master held out his hands cupped together and gestured the divers to gather around to see what he had in his hands. I needn’t have been worried he was handling the sea life—it turned out to be a plastic toy turtle he had brought in a BC pocket. While the dive master was laughing around his regulator at having “fooled” us, I was more irritated than amused and later wondered why he was more focused on his joke than keeping track of his buddy. Finally, while this is a minor thing, it is worth mentioning—the Blue Hole Trip was advertised as including breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Breakfast was coffee with rolls and the snacks were cut watermelon, a can of Pringles, and a package of cookies to share. Not gourmet but fine. Lunch was another story. We stopped on Half Moon Caye for lunch and were told to head to the beach where our lunch would be served. For the twelve divers aboard our boat, lunch was a tray of cold pasta salad, one grilled chicken breast sliced into strips in a take-out container, and a bag of tortilla chips. That is it. It was nowhere near enough food for all of us. Not even close. Meanwhile, boats from other dive operations were unloading divers onto the island for lunch at the same time. Their lunches included pulled pork barbeque, rolls, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, green veggies, fruit salad, and dessert (plus several dishes I wasn’t close enough to see). Seeing divers from other boats feast while looking down at our measly plates would have been bad enough but then the dive masters and boat crew from Ramon’s walked over and filled up their plates with food brought by the other boats. Pretty cheeky to give your paying customers a pitiful excuse for a lunch and then eat huge portions of better food right in front of us. Finally, when we returned to the dock, the dive masters were quite blatant in their solicitation of tips, standing between divers and the dock so it seemed like divers wouldn’t be let off the boat without tipping. I always tip but this is the only time I have felt like I was being held up for tip money. Bottom line: I would highly recommend doing the Blue Hole day trip but just cannot recommend doing it with Ramon’s given our experience. I shared my concerns with the dive shop manager, Rick, but he made it clear he was not interested.

For what it is worth- we pre-booked 3 dives per day through PADI travel and saved about 40% over what they charge if you sign up on site. It worked out because we had a great dive master for our local dives- but I'm not sure I'd risk doing it again given our less favorable experience with other dive masters at Ramon's.

The resort itself was superb in every way, including the resort staff and the restaurant. I would not stay anywhere else in San Pedro.
Websites Ramon's Village Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 26-50 dives
Where else diving Florida, Roatan
Closest Airport San Pedro Getting There We took a commuter flight from Belize International to San Pedro municipal airport

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 78-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Local dives: Must stay within visual range of dive master but otherwise can dive own profile. Buddy pairs must ascend for safety stop when one reaches 800 psi, dive master ascends (meaning everyone still in the water ascends no matter air left) at 45-50 minutes.
Blue Hole trip: more restricted
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments There was no fresh water rinse bucket for cameras on dive boats (including boats making day trips). The boat crew were good about handing cameras down to divers in the water at the beginning of dives and then taking cameras from divers exiting the water at the end of dives, though there was no secure place to put a camera on the boat other than holding it. Back at the dock/dive shop, there are two utility sinks with freshwater taps for all gear rinsing. Each sink is big enough to cram a single BC inside. With divers from multiple boats looking to rinse their gear all at about the same time, there was no way to give gear more than a quick dunk and swish in one of the sinks. Both sinks were used for all gear (as opposed to one sink for fins/weights, one for regs, etc.) so the water got dirty pretty quickly from people dunking wetsuits, sandy booties, etc. and you could not step away from your gear in the sink without someone else's gear being tossed on top. There is an on-site swimming pool for guests of Ramon's and nobody stopped me from sitting at the edge and giving my camera a soak in that, though I am not sure how they would have reacted had I tried to rinse my entire dive kit in the pool.
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Report currently has 3 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Gregory S Bruce in WA, US at Mar 21, 2016 15:29 EST  
Great review- Thanks for taking the time!
By Michael Anderson in CA, US at May 05, 2016 16:36 EST  
Thanks a lot. That was all I needed to know.
By Connie Hey in KS, US at Feb 07, 2019 14:33 EST  
Great report very informative. Thank you.
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