Southern

Faegon’s Point


A great site for new divers or those divers who have been out of the water for a long time, because you are entering in an open sandy area this allows everyone to get their buoyancy under control before they head off to the reef. You can experience poor visibility in the shallows as the ocean swells sometimes stir up the bottom. Heading east you will find a series of deep narrow grooves that twist past low overhangs which are a favorite resting spot for the sleeping nurse sharks. Don’t be frightened if they pass overhead as they move up the gully, they are just trying to retreat from the intrusion.

Diving in the 60 to 80ft range you will see plenty, although if you are so inclined you can head for deeper water. In this area you will find schools of creole wrasses, the shy scrawled cowfish and juvenile hawks bill turtles feeding on the sponges. The macrophotographer will really enjoy it here. They will find the gorgonians covered with vibrant flamingo tongues and hidden in the corals banded coral shrimp, clusters of feather duster worms, small chain morays and peeking out from their tiny holes the secretary blennies.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 40-100ft(12-30m)
Location: 1.5 miles NE of Tobacco Caye (2.4km)
Access: boat

Faegon’s Bluff


This is where the spur and groove reef system starts to develop into the double-wall reef system. You will find two reefs separated by sandy flats before you reach the wall and drop off into the abyss. The sand area slopes to about 120ft in between the reefs. It is unnecessary to go this deep unless you spot something interesting like a passing eagle ray. Most of your sea life can be seen in the 60ft range giving you a nice long bottom time. Be sure to look overhead for the schools of sardines and needlefish. These will be followed closely by prowling barracuda which if you wait and watch you can see the schools of fish turn and chase off the hunting barracuda when it gets to close.

The dominant hard corals in this area are the brain and big star coral. Along with the gorgonians you will also find mushroom and plate corals sheltering species of juvenile reef fish. The special species of fish to look for here is the spotted drum in both its juvenile and intermediate stages.

Other interesting juvenile fish to keep an eye out for are the yellow stripped French angelfish and golden hogfish. Pairs of angel fish are found here by the dozens. When ascending it is best to go directly up from the reef since there are a lot of swells here that stir up strong surges in the shallow areas.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 45-130ft(14-40m)
Location: 1.25 miles North of Tobacco Caye (2km)
Access: boat

Cuda Point


In the shallow area at the beginning of the dive you may find a strong surge but as you continue deeper this will diminish. You will start your dive on the inshore reef line which is again the spur and groove formation. The spurs are covered with hard corals and branching gorgonians while in the sand grooves you will find small coral heads. As you head east the spurs slope to a sandy plateau in about 80ft of water. Here you have two options you can stay here and explore this busy reef or move on to the deeper slopes.

If you choose to go to the deeper depths look for brilliant colored tube, vase and barrel sponges along with a large growth of brain and mushroom corals. Under the overhangs clusters of fearless spiny lobsters who march in plain sight of divers call this home. It is easy to spot numerous bold Nassau groupers along with the lone barracuda that appears to check out the divers especially those with bright objects. They are very curious fish. The photographers in the group will enjoy the wide variety of Caribbean reef fish to photograph.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 40-80ft+(12-24m+)
Location: 1 mile North of Tobacco Caye (2km)
Access: boat

Fishy Point


You will begin your dive at the base of a spur and groove reef formation in 40ft of water on a sandy plain. Now swim seaward atop the reef which is covered with branching gorgonians. Here you will find many varieties of sponges and corals this includes numerous large common and deep water sea fans that wave in the gentle currents of the area. You will find the reef drops sharply from 60ft to a 100ft sandy plain.

If you continue over the sandy plain seaward it ends at the sheer wall but you will be greater than 100ft. It is not necessary to descend to this depth since the reef top has plenty of fish life to watch. Blue tangs gather by the hundreds to feed along the algae-covered slope. Under the overhangs here look for French grunts, black groupers, dog snappers and large green moray eels.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 40-100ft(12-30m)
Location: .5 miles North of Tobacco Caye (.8km)
Access: boat

Turtle’s Rest


This site gets its name from the endangered loggerhead turtles that use Tobacco Caye as a nesting area in the spring. They need all the space they can find for nesting so you can find them using space under many of the buildings that are raised up on stilts and blocks. The crevices in the reef offer resting areas for them both before and after nesting. You will be exploring the inshore reef line that is composed of blocks and gullies instead of the usual narrow spurs and grooves. The shallows here often have a strong surge.

You will enjoy this site whether you find turtles or not since it features wonderful coral and sponge growth along with a large variety of reef fish. The juvenile reef fish population is quite prolific here and they often have a very different appearance than their adult phase. A fish guide can be helpful to you identify the juvenile species.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 50-130ft(15-40m)
Location: .25 miles North of Tobacco Caye (.4km)
Access: boat

Tobacco Cut


The reef only offers a few shore dives and you will find this one to be extremely good. It is also a great site to snorkel and as a night dive. Here you can find many of the night creatures such as octopuses, free swimming morays, squid and many others. You will start your dive beside the boat dock on the caye’s southeast corner where the reef winds around the island into the cut, starting with a short swim or snorkel over the shallow coral till you get to the north side of the passage. This is where you will descend to the sandy floor and follow the reef seaward. For safety it is important to stay close to the reef since this is an area fast boats pass through frequently.

Flowing into the lagoon you will find a gentle current that helps produce healthy coral and brings a large variety of fish to the area. It is a good place to spot eagle rays and small schools of tarpon especially late in the day. Tarpon gather here in early spring to spawn in the channel.

If you follow the reef out to the east face watch out for strong currents that are sometimes present at the channel entrance and because of breaking surf an exit here is very hazardous.

Northerly winds that blow in occasionally in the winter can drive the sediment filled water from the lagoon into the cut lowering visibility.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 6-30ft(2-9m)
Location: .south side of Tobacco Caye
Access: shore

Tobacco Channel


Tobacco channel is about a mile off Tobacco Caye at the break in the reef which is a broad sandy channel. You will start your dive in about 40ft of water near the first of the reef lines.

The dive will move east down the slope then you will follow the reef line close to the sand. This is a great place to spot sleeping nurse sharks in the sandy gullies along the reef. Sleeping in the sand of the channel you can spot numerous large southern and roughtail stingrays but also keep a look out for the pairs of eagle rays that often pass by.

You will find the reef slope healthy with a wide variety of corals and sponges but the heavy surge in the shallows has damaged this area. At the bottom of the slope look for large deepwater fans and sponges edging the bottom of the slope that borders the sandy flats in 100ft of water. There are two ways to explore this are either continue seaward to the next reef or stay and investigate the first reef line. To return to the boat simple follow the slope back to the boat.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 45-100ft+(14-30m+)
Location: 1 mile SE of Tobacco Caye
Access: boat

Eagle Ray Bowl


Since this site has no moorings the boat will follow you as you dive here, it is called a drift dive but the currents are generally mild. You are at the end of the spur and groove reef formations found at most of the northern sites.

A circular sandy plain called the “bowl” where you can often find southern stingrays and eagle rays feeding and resting is where you will start your dive. There are a number of large gullies at the edge of the reef with some of them becoming large sand flats spotted with coral heads. As you swim east the gentle reef slope begins to fill in with beautiful hard corals and gorgonians that have received very little damage from hurricanes and divers. There are numerous willing photo subjects among the fish life here. In the crevices look for morays - both spotted and green, banded coral shrimp, lobsters and channel clinging crabs.

The east face of the reef drops to 80 plus feet and is much more defined. Here you can choose to explore the deeper water or stay near the edge to watch for passing reef sharks and turtles. Once you have finished exploring this wall, return to the shallow water to begin your ascent to the surface.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 45-100ft+(14-30m+)
Location: 1 mile south of Tobacco Caye
Access: boat

Jack Fish City


Entry at this site is in 50ft of water on a sand bottom that is east of the low spur and groove reef. You will find a defined double-wall reef system here. As you swim east over the coral buttresses that have sand channels cut in them you will find the reef line topping out between 50 and 60ft then sloping sharply to 100ft where there is another sand plain. Moving seaward to the reef crest at 80ft you can descend over the wall if your dive profile allows. Here is where you can find schools of horse-eye jacks drifting by.

Continue your dive moving north and west along the reef line. You will cross sand channels where you can spot resting nurse sharks. Swimming along the upper slope there are huge barrel sponges and deep water sea fans. Your dive will conclude among large coral heads, branching gorgonians and a large variety of reef fish at the west end of the reef.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 50-130ft(15-40m)
Location: 2 miles south of Tobacco Caye
Access: boat

Coral Monument Canyon


Here you will find a fine example of a double-wall reef system which consists of large coral buttresses that are divided occasionally by wide sandy canyons. Diving along the north line of the first reef and then moving east over a sandy plain which divides the two reef systems you will find a 20ft coral pillar that raises from the sea floor. It sits at a depth of 115 ft and you can descend to check out the sea life on this coral high-rise and sand floor, where you can find many southern stingrays and large roughtail rays, or swim past it all to the second reef and wall.

If you choose the wall, as your destination keep an eye on your depth gauge. Here you will schools of dog snapper, horse-eye jacks and cubera. The currents here can be very strong which is why you will find the large shoals of these fish out in the blue but also keep any eye out for the occasional reef shark swimming in the depths checking out the scene. Ending your dive along the first reef slope you will find grazing blue tangs and in the spring schools of parrotfish gather here to spawn in the shallow waters.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 40-130ft(12-40m)
Location: 2.5 miles south of Tobacco Caye
Access: boat

Mosquito Caye South


One of the closest dive sights to the mainland there is the shallow inshore lagoon but the visibility here varies greatly depending on the tides and weather conditions. If your boat drops you on the caye you can dive or snorkel from the beach but be careful in the shallow areas since the area has a large population of sea urchins.

Watch the sea gulls and pelicans from the beach to find the large schools of silversides swimming in the shallows. These birds swallow large mouthfuls of these small fish who are trying to keep from being gobbled up. From the murk you can often see the flash of a large tarpon also feeding on these baitfish that are racing to escape both these predators.

When the silversides thin out and you can see the corals you will find most of the common reef fish and invertebrates. The hard corals in this area are in much better shape than those farther off shore at Laughing Bird Caye. The types of fish and coral you can expect to find here are angelfish, lizardfish, grunts, damselfish, trumpetfish and hogfish gathering in the shelter of the staghorn and elkhorn corals.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 6-30ft(2-9m)
Location: 9 miles east of Placencia
Access: boat or shore

Laughing Bird Caye North


The reef to the north of Laughing Bird Caye drops off rapidly with a thick growth of varies hard corals. It is important to have your buoyancy fine tuned since the sea floor here is easily disturbed reducing your visibility. In the sand you can find a variety of creatures like batfish, lizard fish and yellow stingrays. The upside-down jellyfish can be found here resting in the sand with their tentacles facing the sun to nourish the photosynthetic algae that live there. When disturbed it will rise from the sand and gracefully swim to a new location.

As you moving up the banks of the hard coral search for seahorses, octopuses and frogfish hiding amongst the rope sponges. Grazing on the top of the reef are several varieties of sea urchins. This area is a great spot to find different tiny species such as the redlip blennies, red spotted hawkfish, arrow crabs and tiny triplefin living on the reef so keep your eyes open and search the area carefully. Also attached to the rope sponges you will find vivid tunicates.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 25-70ft(8-21m)
Location: .5 miles NE of Laughing Bird Caye
Access: boat

Laughing Bird Caye


On this island you can spot a wide variety of birdlife such as brown pelicans, blackbirds, sea eagles, green herons and brown boobies. But the most famous are the laughing gulls that nest here giving the island its name.

The reef that surrounds the island is called a faro reef system also referred to as a shelf atoll which is an atoll that develops on the continental shelf. Being one of a few in the world it is a protected area within both the Laughing Bird Caye National Park and the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site. Its status as a marine reserve both protects it and increases damage from the masses of day snorkelers going out to the atoll. There has also been coral beaching from El Nino and damage from hurricanes. Swim farther out to find healthy hard corals but be aware of boat traffic.

Even with the damage you will enjoy snorkeling or diving this site since it is full of dozens of reef species that feed on algae and each other. Keep an eye out for large barracuda feeding on the smaller reef fish in the area.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 3-20ft(1-6m)
Location: 10.5 miles east of Placencia
Access: boat or shore

Laughing Bird Caye


This site is very different from the wall dives of the barrier reef. The seabed here is a mixture of sand and silt making it easy to disturb. The prevailing winds and tides also have a strong affect on the visibility which ranges from 20 to 100+ ft. Even when the visibility is not at its best this site offer unique features making it worth you effort.

The bottom remains sandy until you reach about 25ft. This is where the brain, star and mushroom corals appear with a large variety of sponges and gorgonians growing atop of them. In the deeper water look for different juvenile fish, invertebrates, anemones and tunicates among the gorgonians and sponges. Inhabiting the corals and anemones look for shrimp, crabs and small fish. Those of you who love marine biology and or macro photography will have a great time here.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 25-65ft(8-20m)
Location: .5 miles SE of Laughing Bird Caye
Access: boat

North Wall


The north wall is a drift dive so you will simple ride the current as your dive boat follows you from the surface. You will enter the water and descend to about 25ft where you can explore the top of the shelf with its coral outcrops and swaying gorgonians. This will take you to about 50ft as the wall plunges to extreme depths. This area of the barrier reef is mostly submerged with a few small patches that break the surface.

Scattered around the wall you will see large barrel sponges and branching gorgonians that stretch out into the current for food. In this current you can also find schools of dog snappers, horse –eye and yellow jacks and schoolmasters swimming in tight groups. At 120ft you will find a narrow sandy shelf which marks your turn around point. Swim slowly up to the shallows where you can enjoy your safety stop above the fields of gorgonians.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25-120ft(8-30m)
Location: 1 mile ENE of Silk Caye
Access: boat

Silk Cayes


This is also known as Queen Cayes by some locals. It is a small scattering of islands which offers a break from the high energy wall dives of the area. These islands offer a great spot for a lunch break with time for some snorkeling or a shallow dive. The area dive shops use this site for many of their open-water students because of its shallow waters and calm seas. It is important for divers to be careful in the shallow areas since they are teaming with black spiny sea urchins.

The photographers in your group will enjoy the opportunity to photography many of the small reef fish found in this area. The sea floor topography is spotted with coral heads, turtle grass and sandy shallows which are great places to look for juvenile species of the local reef fish. In just a foot of water you can find tiny jacks, juvenile spadefish and baitfish swimming in dense shoals. Of course the predators find this area a great place for hunting so keep your eye out for barracuda and halfbacks moving in to the shallows for lunch. When you swimming into the deeper water with the developing coral heads you will find iridescent stoplight parrotfish and beautifully colored pairs of butterflyfish grazing on the algae.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: Surface to 20ft(6m)
Location: 22 miles ESE of Placencia
Access: boat or shore

Silk Cayes Canyon


Moving south there are low patch reefs mixed with small coral outcrops. They develop into the spur and groove reef structure near the edge of the drop-off. The gullies here can be very deep bottoming out around 90ft before you reach the wall. Even though the reef in this area is pounded by heavy swells there is a large variety of health hard corals and gorgonians. Even when the seas are calm you experience noticeable water movement with swells on the surface averaging 4 to 6 ft. Due to these swells you will find a heavy surge at he shallower depths. The surge improves as you descend but if the weather turns rough you will find the shallows difficult.

Swimming along the wall keep your eyes open for groups of the strange gray ocean triggerfish. They often have remoras attached that are as large as they are. Reef sharks and an assortment of pelagic like to cruise this area.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25– 130ft(8-40m+)
Location: 1.5 miles ESE of Silk Caye
Access: boat

Pompion Caye Wall


You start your dive on a shallow reef shelf beginning at 25ft and slowly sloping to 45ft where you will find a large variety of gorgonians and hard corals on the top of the wall. This wall is very deep so watch your depth as you descend. Look here for the pelagic and large fish since the coral and sponge growth is reduced here.

Along the wall you will find cleaning stations being visited by barracudas with schools of cubera snappers and Atlantic spadefish cruising the deep blue. The overhangs hide large black groupers along with their attendant remoras who are unaffected by the approach of divers. Moving up to the shallow depth to finish your dive, try searching the reef for the hidden green moray. There is a surge in this area that can become very strong so be prepared.

Experience Rating: Intermediate
Depth: 25– 100ft(8-30m+)
Location: 1 mile east of Pompion Caye
Access: boat

Pompion Caye


This lovely tropical island is ideal for snorkelers and novice divers. In the shallow waters you will find a number of species from moray eels and spotted eagle rays to parrotfish, trunkfish and various baitfish that the pelicans love to lunch on. The only resident you will find on this island is the local game warden.

As you swim through the sand flats to the turtle grass you will be able to spot juvenile species hiding in the grass beds. Venturing deeper there are small coral heads and sea fans where the reef fish make their home. Watch for the large predators such as tarpon and barracudas following shoals of smaller fish.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 3-20ft(1-6m)
Location: 20 miles SE of Placencia
Access: boat or shore

Chub Canyons


Here again you will find a spur-and-groove reef system located just south of the Pompion Caye wall. It is low and narrow and slopes gentle from 50 to 70 ft. The ocean swells here can bring heavy surge but as you descend they decrease to a comfortable level.

The heavy surges bring the nutrients needed to support the heavy growth of corals like mushroom, brain, star and lettuce. Watch the branching gorgonians swaying with the surge as you explore the reef. Following the spurs to the drop off you will find schools of horse-eye and yellow jacks, schoolmasters and bluestripped grunts cruising with the current. When you are finished checking out the wall, swim west through the gullies to the sandy shallows. Here you can often find a resting nurse shark that will allow divers to swim in close.

Experience Rating: Novice
Depth: 25-130ft(8-40m)
Location: 2 miles SE of Pompion Caye
Access: boat or shore