Northern

Mexico Rocks


This dive site was originally named after the Mexico Cocal coconut plantation onshore that is no longer in operation. It is about 20 minutes from San Pedro by boat. The shallow waters and protected position inside the reef makes this a great site for snorkelers who like a little adventure, novice divers and divers who like do underwater photography.


Some of the coral heads rising from the sea floor here are quite large. While you are exploring this reef you will see mostly brain and boulder corals. Growing on these giant corals you will find purple sea fans and other gorgonians branching out. Milling around the gorgonians you will find small schools of blue striped grunts. If you look close you will see the trumpet fish mirroring the movements of the sea rods waving in the gentle sea swells. Other fish sea life you should be keeping your eye out for on the reef are rock beauties, small wrasses, butterfly fish along with file clams, banded coral shrimp, feather dusters and cleaner gobies.


In amongst the coral heads you will find broad sand patches along with areas of seaweed and turtle grass. This environment is ideal for spotting southern stingrays, flounder, hermit crabs, sand divers and possible even the batfish.


Experience Rating: Novice

Depth: 10-25ft(3-8m)

Location: 6 miles NE of San Pedro (9.7km)

Access: boat


Statue


This site is named after the statue of Christ that can be found there. Believe it or not it isn’t easy to find and you will probably need the help of your dive master. As is true of most man made structures placed on reefs they are never as magnificent as what nature provides for us.


At this site you will experience the spur and groove coral formations with deep and narrow canyons that are exciting to explore and usually have great visibility. The shallow areas of this site boast beautiful plate and staghorn corals; while on the sheer sides of the spurs’ you will be able to view and photograph numerous small barrel sponges and colorful tube sponges. When crossing from one spur to another be sure to keep your eye out for nurse sharks and roughtail stingrays in the sand grooves since they enjoy these calm protected waters for a quick rest.


The statue of Christ stands in 60 ft waters and is generally left for the last stop before ascending to your safety stop. This is a very popular spot for a quick photo. As you ascend you will notice large swarms of yellowtail snappers


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 35-130ft(11-40m)

Location: 2 miles NE of San Pedro (3.2km)

Access: boat


Tres Cocos


This site is located just north of San Pedro and was originally named for the 3 palm trees that used to stand on shore. If you are looking to do a little deeper diving this is a great site to do it at. The mooring line is reeftop in 50 ft of water. From 50 to 80 or 90ft. you will find hard corals and gorgonians covering the top and sides of the spur. Be sure to keep an eye on your gauges when swimming in the sand grooves since the bottom out at 110 to 120ft. As you head seaward these gorges become narrower with the corals reef top threatening to meet creating an open tunnel effect.


For the best visibility you want to dive this sight in the morning since it becomes gloomy and dark soon after midday. You have a great opportunity for some fantastic wide-angle shots at this site. To improve your coral and sponge shots be sure to bring a light along.


As you swim seaward towards the end of the spurs keep an eye out for horse-eye jacks, spadefish, dog snappers and possible even a reef shark in the shoals of the Atlantic. On the reef you will find the usual variety of reef fish, corals and sponges. While you are crossing the deep sand grooves coming back to the shallows be sure to look down since the deep sand grooves here are quite spectacular.


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 50-130ft(15-40m)

Location: 2 miles NE of San Pedro (3.2km)

Access: boat


Tackle Box Canyon


If you like swim-throughs and short tunnels this is a great site for you. The tunnels are short enough to negotiate without a light. Keep a look out for sleeping nurse sharks and lobsters in this area. As you swim seaward from the mooring the gullies get deep and narrow and the walls are nearly vertical making this a dramatic example of the spur and groove reef formation typical of this area. Tackle Box Canyons is any easy site to get to located directly off shore from a popular beach bar with the same name.


On the rooftop you can expect to see large varieties of corals, sponges and gorgonians. Moray eels like to make their homes in these formations so be sure to check out the nooks and crannies. While you looking for the larger creatures don’t miss the tinnier varieties, which are numerous here. They including various shrimp, blennies, nudibranchs, tubeworms and golden crinoids.


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 40-90ft(12-27m)

Location: 1 miles SE of San Pedro (1.6km)

Access: boat


Mermaids’ Lair


Yes, the name of this site is Mermaids’ Lair, but as of yet none have been spotted - who knows maybe you will be the first. This site is only a short boat ride from San Pedro where you will find a great many marine species and a beautiful reef to explore. Since this site has a maximum depth of 100ft it is rated intermediate but with the supervision of a dive master it is a great dive spot for all levels.


Some of the more unusual reef fish you can find here are small truck fish, one of my personal favorites, angular cowfish and scrawled filefish so be sure search the area for them. Both French and gray angelfish are abundant along with parrotfish who are constantly chomping on the reef. In the shallower areas hiding among the gorgonians keep a sharp eye out for trumpetfish, sharpnose puffers and the slender filefish as they like to hide themselves in the swaying branches. As you swim seaward you will find a large variety of corals from the giant staghorns, star, brain and lettuce coral. This is a great area for photographing these fish if you have the patients to stay in one area to get the shot.


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 40-100ft(12-30m)

Location: 1 miles SE of San Pedro (1.6km)

Access: boat


Esmarelda


This dive is often done as the second dive of the day for several reasons. First the spur and groove coral formations are shallower than other sites plus visibility here is usually clear until late afternoon due to the currents. For photography especially with a wide angle lens the water clarity is best in the early morning. Esmarelda is just beyond the Tuffy Cut, which is offshore from San Pedro making it an easily accessible site.


The fish life is plentiful on the reeftop blue tangs, squirrelfish, and schoolmasters are some of the fish you will see. As you swim deeper to enjoy the many swim-throughs be sure to keep your eyes towards the deep blue waters for sightings of spotted eagle rays and other large pelagics.


As you swim seaward following the spurs and gullies you will find an abundance of elkhorn, brain, staghorn and lettuce corals among the many varieties of gorgonians.

The azure vase sponges come in to view as you head to the deeper waters. As you are swimming by be sure to take a peek inside since this is where the arrow crabs like to hide.


Experience Rating: Novice

Depth: 30-60ft(9-18m)

Location: 1.5 miles SE of San Pedro (2.4km)

Access: boat



Boca Ciega


This dive site is a quick 10-minute boat ride from the San Pedro docks. Again the reef is the same spur and groove formations as most sites in this area. You will notice that the grooves are much wide than other nearby sites and that the depth drops quickly to over 100 ft. At this site resides a pair of black groupers who seem very curious about divers and sometimes like to follow you through out your dive. The mooring line here is set at 45ft in an area covered with sea fans and other gorgonians. There is also a sinkhole in the Hol Chan Marine preserve with the same name.


At the start of the dive head to the deeper waters, here you may find a sleeping nurse shark or even a Caribbean reef shark keeping an eye on the depths beyond the spurs. Keeping an eye on your depth gauge so you don’t exceed your maximum depth at this point make a turn back towards the shallower waters crossing to an adjacent groove.

As you are making your way back to the mooring line be sure to check out the caves and overhangs for lobster, as well as green and spotted moray eels.


If you enjoy underwater photography this is a great area for both wide-angle and macro shots. Some of the fish subjects you might enjoy shooting are the colorful parrotfish, angelfish, blue chromis, creole wrasses and the ever present yellow tail snappers. The hard corals and gorgonians are mixed in with numerous azure vase and yellow tube sponges. Remember when you are trying for the perfect shot that the best light is in the morning and early afternoon.


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 45-100ft(14-30m)

Location: 2 miles S of San Pedro (3.2km)

Access: boat



Cypress Tunnels


The Cypress Tunnels site is again a spur and groove reef but it offers many swim-throughs and long tunnels for you to explore. It is important for you to control your buoyancy to keep from spoiling the visibility for the other divers. Since the depth in the grooves exceeds 100ft it is important to watch your depth gage especially after exiting the tunnels. To really appreciate the marine life in the tunnels it is best to bring a dive light. If you enjoy swim-throughs and tunnels this is a great site.


Exploring the grooves and spurs near the mooring line is always a great way to finish your dive. Here you can expect to find plenty of corals such as staghorn, lettuce and boulder coral. In amongst these coral formations look for the smaller fish like the sailfin and triplefin blennies.



Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 50-100ft(15-30m)

Location: 3 miles S of San Pedro (4.8km)

Access: boat


Pillar Coral


As a part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve it is best to dive this and the Hol Chan Cut on the same day so you only have to pay the park fee once.


The coral near the mooring shows signs of storm damage but as you move towards the sea the coral becomes much healthier and the spurs become much more defined. The fish life you can expect to see are squirrelfish, bluestriped grunts and schoolmasters. They all like to hide in the shadows of the pillar coral that tops the spurs. In this area you will also find cleaner gobies with black groupers and creole wrasses waiting their turn to be cleaned.


When you return to the mooring line you can expect to see groups of yellowtail snappers and at least one large black grouper, which will make a great photo subject since despite park rules it is obvious they have been feed by divers and are hoping for another handout.


Experience Rating: Novice

Depth: 40-70ft(12-21m)

Location: 3.5 miles S of San Pedro (5.6km)

Access: boat


Hol Chan Cut


This is probable the most popular site off Ambergris. It is in the middle of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and is likely to be one of your first dives. It is also used often for training dives. This is a park and there is a fee of $10.00USD, which will be paid to the warden who is on duty there. Since this is a very popular site with both divers and snorkelers it is important to watch for boat traffic.


The cut is 30 to 45 feet wide with a maximum depth of 30 feet and is known for the strong tidal current that often flows through it. The bottom is sandy with eelgrass beds near the mooring area. The reef flanks each side of the channel rising from 30ft to just below the surface.


Coral species here are numerous, you can find most of the Caribbean corals in this area although you will find some reef damage due to the all the divers and snorkelers who visit this site each year. The most impressive feature of this site is the large schools of fish that tend to congregate in this area. Expect to see bluestripped grunts, schoolmasters and horse-eye jacks. In the channel look for southern stingrays, eagle rays and sand divers. The reef walls are home for a large number of green moray eels.


The mooring site is a great spot for the photographer. Large groupers hang out in this protected area and seem to like having their picture taken.


Experience Rating: Novice

Depth: 10-30ft(3-9m)

Location: 4 miles S of San Pedro (6.4km)

Access: boat


Shark-Ray Alley


Although this spot is to shallow and has to much boat traffic for diving it is a great place for snorkeling during you surface interval. In the past fishing boats used to stop here and clean their days catch, which attracted other fish looking for a hand out. The rays and nurse sharks still hang out here since the dive masters continue feed them.


Even with out scuba gear you will have great opportunities for photographs since the divemasters feed and handle the fish.


Experience Rating: Novice

Depth: 6-10ft(2-3m)

Location: 4.5 miles S of San Pedro (7.2km)

Access: boat


Amigo’s Wreck


In 1996 the dive shop Amigo’s del Mar sank a small barge at this site. The wreck is not exceptional but the site offers great fish interaction since the dive operators of San Pedro have developed a fish feeding station here on the barge. The sound of the dive boats approaching the site will cause the groupers, snappers and nurse sharks to gather on the wreck in anticipation of a free lunch. You may even find some of these fish greeting you at the mooring line.


The swim to the wreck is a short 5 minutes seaward from the mooring line. It is best to position your self on the starboard side of the barge in the sand or on the deck of the ship near the dive master this will give you the best angles to view or photograph the feeding.

There is a large green moray eel who lives in the bow of the ship who often joins the diners.


This is a great site for some close up fish portraits and group shots. The fish hang out here because of the feeding, which still remains a controversial topic among divers, but it will give you a great opportunity for photographs and the ability to view the species close up.


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 40-75ft(12-23m)

Location: 4.5 miles S of San Pedro (7.2km)

Access: boat


Coral Canyons


Coral Canyons is a short boat ride and is one of the many dive sites off Caye Caulker. Most of these sites do not have permanent moorings so the boat will follow you as you dive the area, not to confused with a drift dive when you dive with a current.


Your dive will begin in a sandy area with many small coral heads. As you continue along the reef will become more continuous and gradually it will form the familiar spur-and –groove formation. In this area the grooves are quite narrow and have a steep drop off to over 100 feet. While you are swimming deeper into the grooves be sure to check the caves and overhangs for nurse sharks and roughtail stingrays. For your return you can either cross over to another groove for more exploration of the caves and overhangs or ascend to the top of the reef to view the hard corals and sponges searching them for marine life.


Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 40-80(12-24)

Location: 2miles SE of Caye Caulker

Access: boat


Caye Chapel Reef


You are 3 miles south of Caye Caulker here and although the reef is similar to sites north of here the visibility is not nearly as good. This is because the seafloor is covered in silt probable from construction debris that gets carried to the area from the lagoon on the falling tide.


The sea floor and small coral heads start in 30ft of water as you continue swimming off shore you will see the spur and groove coral formations begin to develop. Visibility will continue to get better the deeper you go. At 70 ft the spurs end and there is a sharp drop off to the sand floor about 100 to 120 feet.


Caye Chapel reef is a great spot for macro life even if the fish are not as abundant as on other sites. The deep sand flats are a great place to look for large roughtail stingrays. If you search the walls of the reef carefully you will find numerous crabs and lobster. Also keep a look out for the arrow and secretary blennies hiding in the reef.



Experience Rating: Intermediate

Depth: 30-130ft(9-40m)

Location: 2miles E of Caye Chapel

Access: boat