Atolls Lighthouse Reef

Blue Hole


Once an above ground cave that has collapsed this spectacular deep blue circle is 1,000 feet in diameter and over 400 feet deep. The Blue Hole is located at Lighthouse Reef, which is one of Belize’s three coral atolls.

Visibility when first entering the water is not that great and the water has a gray color to it but once you have descended past the thermocline at 50 or 60 ft the water clarity will improve dramatically. This dive is not about the fish and coral formations you are used to seeing it is the stalactites you are going to see. Once you reach the 100 ft mark you will entire the first under cut where you begin swimming between these formations. Even though the water is clear light is limited so for the best experience bring a dive light, this will help you spot the invertebrates and sponges that live here.

Often times if you look below you will spot sharks swimming in the hole which is probable the only fish you will see in side the Blue Hole. The reef around the edge of the hole has some coral growth and sea life but nothing compared to the reefs on the outer edge of the atoll because the water flow here limited.

Experience Rating: Advanced
Depth: 30-130ft+(3-40m+)
Location: Center of Atoll
Access: boat

Eagle Ray Wall


If your luck is good you will probable get to see one or more eagle rays at this site. This wall dive is splendid with or without the eagle rays. The mooring, which is where you will start your dive is in 30 ft of water that drops over a sheer wall to 115 and 145ft. In the overhangs along the wall you will find large lush black coral trees. Along the wall you will find large schools of jacks and snappers but be sure to keep an eye towards the deep so you don’t miss the passing turtle or eagle ray.

The marco photographer will have a great time shooting the small fish species such as secretary blennies, triplefins and nudibranchs that live in abundance on the top of the reef. As you finish your dive you will swim towards shore in 15 to 18 feet of water which is a great place to spot scorpionfish and peacock flounders.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 15-130ft(5-40m)
Location: 1.5 miles north of Long Caye (2.4km)
Access: boat

The Aquarium


This site gets its name from the great variety of small reef fish that call this reef top and wall edge home. You can find both a well-developed spur and groove reef formation that leads to a wall. The fish here make very cooperative subjects for any photographer.

At about 60 ft you will start to find the azure vase sponges and large barrel sponges starting to appear. Be sure to check for juvenile reef fish and the banded coral shrimp that like to take shelter here. On the top of the wall look between the large gorgonians for trumpet fish and black groupers while turtles and French angelfish can be found on the reef crest. As you swim along the wall be sure to keep a look out in the blue water for sharks, manta rays and other large fish.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25-130ft(8-40m)
Location: NW corner of Long Caye
Access: boat

Silver Caves


Along this wall you will find numerous caves and overhangs in which you can find schools of silversides, giving this site its name. It is best to bring a dive light to help when you are exploring these caves and overhangs for nocturnal species. It will also help you to see the colorful encrusting organisms.

When you exit the boat the mooring is close to the edge of the wall in 30ft of water.

As you swim over the edge you will find many different kinds of sponges along with branching gorgonians. Cruising this wall you can find both barracuda and tarpon while the fish schooling under your boat will be different varieties of chubs and jacks.

As you dive concludes it is a great time to explore the coral garden in about 20ft of water.

If you are staying out on the atolls this is a great site for a night dive where you can find many different species of sleeping fish, arrow crabs, brittle star fish and spinny lobsters hunting for food.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 20-130ft(6-40m)
Location: NW of Long Caye
Access: boat

Painted Wall


The sites in this area have the possibility of two different types of dive, either the spur-and-groove formations, which are located on the top of the wall or the deeper wall dive. If the winds are stirring up the surge is strong it is best to go straight for the deeper water.

Along the wall you will find a large variety of sponges such as tall tube, stovepipe, colorful rope and finger sponges. As you swim past the overhangs check under them for the deeper water sea fans. Vibrant tunicates and tiny clingfish can be found hiding in these fans.

In the shallows keep a lookout for white spotted filefish and cowfish that can change their color and pattern to blend in with their surroundings. The fish in this are don’t seem to be accept divers as part of their world so the photographers can get some great shots. You will also find horse-eye jacks, Bermuda chub and barracuda cruising the shallows. Turtles, black groupers and pairs of French angelfish will be found along the wall.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25-130ft(8-40m)
Loation: West of Long Caye
Access: boat

Julie’s Jungle


A marine biologist who helped with the installation of the mooring pin is the namesake for this site. The reef top is at 30 ft with deep grooves that run to the edge, where at 50 ft you start the deep drop off. As in the other areas out here you will find branching gorgonians, colorful tube sponges and large barrel sponges near the top of the wall.

Under the dive boat you will find the lone barracuda checking you out and schools of horse-eyed jacks cruising the wall. In the shallows look for groups of snappers, grunts creole wrasses and a variety of angelfish. In the tiny holes in the barrel sponges and hard corals you will find the curious secretary blennies checking out the divers. These creatures make great subjects for the macro photographer. If you are very patient you can get a manicure from the tiny purple Pederson cleaning shrimp who live in the many anemones you will find here.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 30-100ft(9-30m)
Location: West of Long Caye
Access: boat

Quebrada


The name of this site is the Spanish word for gorge, which is referring to a wide sandy area that separates the reef It has small coral outcrops that are scattered through out. As you swim along you will pass large coral buttresses on your way to the sheer wall where along the overhang you will find beautiful coral formations.

At about 135 there is another sand shelf but it is best to skip pushing to this depth because the best part of the reef is between 60 and 80ft. If you are real lucky you may be approached by a pair of the dolphins who live in this area. They seem to enjoy swimming in to take a look at us slow swimmers before disappearing in to the depths, so have your camera ready.

The invertebrates to look for near the top of the wall and amid the shallow coral heads are several of the nudibranch species, banded coral shrimp and at arrow crabs. Since in the past there has been fish feeding in this area the yellowtail snappers are very persistent making them much easier to photograph.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25-130ft(8-40m)
Location: West of Long Caye
Access: boat

Long Caye Ridge


The hard corals in the shallows show signs of wave damage probable due to hurricanes but you can still find healthy plate, brain and staghorn corals. In this area you will find the spurs widely spaced with large sand shuts that lead toward the wall. In the deeper water at the wall you will find the hard corals much healthier and a large array of the familiar branching gorgonians and colorful sponges.

Where the coral is dead and damaged you will find the algae flourishing so watch carefully for the venomous scorpionfish, which hides extremely well among the algae. This area also attracts grazing butterflyfish, angelfish, blue tangs and hamlets along with the spoted nudibranchs feeding on the algae.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25-100ft(8-30m)
Location: West of Long Caye
Access: boat

Pete’s Palace


Running towards the drop off you will find a beautiful series of spurs and grooves that top out at 65ft. As you reach the wall you will find a larger number and variety of tube and barrel sponges fighting for space. This site was named after Peter Hughes the operator of a live-aboard who helped with placing the original mooring.

There are a lot of small reef fish to been seen along the wall as well as several cleaning stations. At the stations keep a look out for bold black groupers who do not seem the least bit intimidated by divers checking them out. As you reach the end of your dive and are entering the shallows keep a lookout for lizardfish, hermit crabs, peacock flounders and yellow-head jawfish. If you are very lucky you may even spot the shy shortnose batfish.

If you happen to be staying out in this is area you can enjoy a wonderful night dive here. The boat lights tend to attract large dense balls of baitfish, which bring in the barracuda, squid and tarpon hunting for food. On your dive keep a lookout for a large variety of nudibranch, filefish and sleeping boxfish.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 30-130ft(9-40m)
Location: SW of Long Caye
Access: boat

Nurse Shark Ridge


The many sightings of this fish here is how this site got its name. Nurse sharks like to nape in areas with low overhangs and you will find many of these spots atop the wall and under the large coral heads you will find in the broad sand patches. As with any wild creature there is no guarantee but it is best to look for them at the beginning of the dive before the other divers disturb them.

The wall often has a steady current making it a good area to spot pelagics and other large fish. Hunting tarpon can be found prowling around the coral heads waiting to catch an unsuspecting small fish fitting the current. Silvery jacks known as Palometas with long dorsal and anal fins scoot through the current in groups of up to a dozen.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 40-130ft(12-40m)
Location: SW of Long Caye
Access: boat

No Cocos (Tres Cocos)


This dive site has gone from Tres Cocos to No Cocos due to hurricanes uprooting the three large coconut trees that were visible from the beach on Long Caye. You will hear it referred to by both names depending on the dive master.

It is best move on to the wall and leave the coral gardens in the mooring area to explore at the end of your dive. Along this wall you will find beautiful clusters of sponges as well as overhangs with large black coral trees. In these overhangs keep a look out for large black groupers. Now don’t for get to check out the deep blue for reef sharks, jacks and the Atlantic spadefish.

As you are ending your dive be sure to explore the patch and gully coral formations in the shallows. In this area you will find both barracuda and green moray visiting the cleaning stations. Schools of parrotfish, blue tangs, Creole wrasse and hogfish graze the algae growth.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 30-130ft(9-40m)
Location: SW corner of Long Caye
Access: boat

Elkhorn Forest


Not sure how this site got its name since there is no elkhorn coral to be found even though the coral in this area appears to be very health and abundant. The atoll shelters this site from the northeasterly winds but you can still get swells from the east that wash over the reef. Due to this conditions in the shallow areas can be uncomfortable so use caution when returning to the boat and during your safety stop.

The reef here is covered with gorgonians that shelter the smaller fish and goes to about 50ft where it drops off to a dramatic wall. Here you will find several large barrel sponges that serve as cleaning stations, which are staffed by juvenile Spanish hogfish. The groupers in this area seem to be particularly territorial and can be spotted chasing off other fish. The wall here resembles small bays and headlands where you can find spectacular plate and star corals.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25-130ft(8-40m)
Location: 1.5 miles (2.4km) east of Long Caye
Access: boat

Half Moon Wall


This site has a wide variety of habitats to explore. The sand flats where your boat will moor are covered with beds of turtle grass and a colony of garden eels. As you swim past the turtle grass the sand will slope towards the reef where you can find southern stringrays feeding on the mollusks that are buried in the sand or simple resting.

The reef here has many swim-throughs and gullies. It is topped with numerous healthy corals, sponges, sea fans and is teaming with a large variety of reef fish. As you swim through the cuts, overhangs and swim-throughs you will reach the wall at 70 to 80ft. Here you will find a sheer face covered with gorgonians and colorful sponges. Don’t forget to keep an eye out to the deep for if you are lucky you will spot an eagle or manta ray, sharks and other large pelagics.

When you reach the turtle grass and sand flats at the end of your dive you will find parrotfish, triggerfish, hogfish, goatfish, bar jacks and gray angelfish all feeding in this area. The garden eels can be frustratingly shy but are worth the effort as the remerge from their holes and can make a great photo opportunity.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 30-130ft(9-40m)
Location: South of Half Moon Caye
Access: boat

Shark Point


Since this site is part of the Half Moon wall the terrain is very similar. On the sandy flats where you begin and end your dive look for southern stingrays nosing in the sand for a meal of crustaceans and mollusks. The sand slopes gentle to the coral reef atop the wall.

The top spurs of the reef here are very close together making the valleys narrow. You will find sea whips, sponges and reef fish crowded throughout. As you swim forward through the grooves you will come out along a sheer drop off at between 60 to 70ft. Swimming over the deep blue you are likely to see Spanish mackerel, crevalle jacks or an eagle ray. Lucky divers will spot a reef or hammerhead shark. The gentle east-west currents here feed the corals, sponges and sea fans making them grow abundantly.

At the end of your dive drift back with the current a top the reef toward the sand shelf. In amongst the gorgonians look for schools of bluestriped grunts along with the fish making use of the numerous cleaning stations.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 30-130ft(9-40m)
Location: SE of Half Moon Caye
Access: boat