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Dive Review of ReefCI in
Belize/Sapodilla Cayes

ReefCI: "Great diving with ReefCI in the Sapodilla Cayes", Dec, 2016,

by Richard P Tucker, CA, US ( 2 reports). Report 9446.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments My wife and I dove with ReefCI for 10 days in December 2016. ReefCI is an organization that leases tiny (less than 2 acres) Tom Owens Caye, one of the northernmost of Belize’s remote Sapodilla Cayes, for scuba-based reef conservation vacations. In short, we were thrilled with the experience and are looking forward to going back.
The group was very helpful getting us to the island and the dive master/biologist, instructor, cook, caretakers and captain were all enthusiastic, capable, and fun to be with. Our primary mission was to help study and eradicate lionfish from the Sapodilla Cayes, but we were also engaged in commercial fish, conch and lobster surveys. I’m an enthusiastic u/w photographer, but the goal-oriented dives were not well suited for photography. I was aware of that when we signed up, so it wasn’t an issue.
“Guests” arrive in Placencia via Tropic Air from Belize City on Saturday or Sunday, and ReefCI picks them up at the municipal pier on Monday morning for the 45-50 minute trip in the dive boat to Tom Owens Caye. Pack light and make sure that anything you want to keep dry is in waterproof bags. We were warned, so no problem. Between the squalls and the spray, it’s a good idea to wear a swim suit and a windbreaker on the boat! Accommodations on the island were funky one/two person bungalows and bare bones rooms in the main building. There isn’t any hot water (though they are working on that) and the pedal toilets don’t take paper, so don’t expect a deluxe holiday. About 15 guests can be handled but there were only 5 of us the first week and 8 of us the second week. A typical day has 3 or 4 dives. The first, before breakfast, was pure lionfish spearing (we were all trained before the dive in the safe use of the spear and how to protect the coral and sponges while spearing). After breakfast was a second trip, typically a mellow conch or lobster survey. The afternoon dive was either a reef fish ID dive or a recreational dive off one of the nearby cayes. Night dives were offered once a week, but rough weather conspired to keep us out of the water at night. The boat is a fast, stable 38-foot no-frills ship with two outboards: roll off, climb back on with a ladder. Since almost all of the dives are just 5 or 10 minutes from the caye, a no-frills boat was just fine. The crew was very helpful setting up the gear and getting it into the boat, helping us suit up, and getting us out of the water. Air only—no nitrox. Everyone leaves the island for Placencia on Friday morning (after a quick dive)—only a caretaker and the watchdog “Spot” stay on the island over the weekend. The food was plentiful and remarkably good considering the conditions! We had lionfish (we all learned to clean them), pasta, and Belize-style chicken and beef for dinner, and a variety of breakfasts and lunches—over the two weeks, no meal was repeated.
This is Spartan eco-diving, with great staff and challenging but fun diving. In particular, it was a challenge to get up that ladder when it was choppy, but most days were calm. The water was warm (I was never chilled in my 3mm shorty, and my wife was comfy in a full 3mm suit) and reasonably clear (typically 40-60 feet of visibility). There was only a little bleaching evident and there were lots of soft corals and large sponges. We saw morays on most dives and lots of groupers, grunts, parrotfish and butterflyfish. Angelfish and queen triggerfish followed us around most dives like puppy dogs. On one dive we speared 70 lionfish (4 of us sharing a single spear) in less than 30 minutes! We didn’t see any pelagics and we didn’t see a single shark while diving (though from shore we saw nurse sharks swimming in the shallows around the island every day), but that isn’t what this dive trip is about.
The staff really made this a great holiday for us, and Placencia was a fun place to hang out over the weekends between dives. Good job, ReefCI!
Websites ReefCI   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Micronesia, Red Sea, Hawaii, Caribbean, Florida, California
Closest Airport PLJ Getting There Mainland to Belize City, then Tropic Air to Placencia

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82-83°F / 28-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-60 Ft/ 12-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions All divers followed and stayed just above the dive master. No dives over 80 feet. Safety stop at 15 feet every dive.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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 Probably not the best diving for photography--most dives require full attention to lionfish and critter surveys. But the staff would probably make it work if this is critical for you.
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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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