Highlight of the trip! Belize is part of the second largest barrier reef system in the world and the formations there are mesmerizing. From the world renowned Blue Hole, to the wonders of Turneffe Atolls, Esmeralda Canyon, Hoh Chan Marine Reserves, and Shark Ray Alley, there are plenty of sites to choose from and explore. A total of 13 dive shops reside on the Ambergris Caye and 9 of them rank 5 stars with Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). These are resorts committed to providing quality diver training while continuing education programs related to environmental awareness and better diver experiences. We decided on Ramon’s Village both for resting and scuba diving.
Majority of dive sites in or right outside the reefs are only 20 min boat ride from Ramon Village resort’s very own docks, while Blue Hole and the Atolls require a full day journey.
What to expect on a reef diving trip
Dive boats to the reef leave daily at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm. Divers are typically assigned to the same boat for the entire trip duration. This is to ensure the dive master will be familiar with each person’s diving profile and be able to care for everyone’s safety underwater. Each dives take ~1hr 30min from departure to return, so there are ~20 min rest time in between consecutive trips.
Dive masters usually acquaint themselves firsthand with the new diver’s profile, but special shoutout to Torriano Sr. and crew. We simply loved how thorough they were. Torriano Sr. verbally checked with us our swim profiles, gave us pointers to further improve before and after each dives, and helped me took good footages of well hidden marine life throughout the trip. I always felt like I was in good hands.
Scuba Diving outside the Reef. Can you spot the camouflaged crab?
Sample topics Torriano Sr. focused on:
- Buoyancy control
- What are the skill levels
- How comfortable are we controlling buoyancy via breathing and via BCD control
- What trouble have we had equalizing
- Typical air consumption
- Sea sickness
- How comfortable are we with rough sea
- Have we taken any medicine
- The crew recommended light fruits and ginger juice for breakfast before diving!
- There are two pharmacies on the caye to buy seasickness medicines from
I don’t scuba, only snorkel. What can I do?
Snorkelers can enjoy encounters with fish, rays, turtles, and nurse sharks at Hoh Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, or Mexico Rock on a daily basis. Both of these destinations are inside the reef, so the depth are ~30′ and the waves are calm. Shark Ray Alley offers visitors rare opportunities to snorkel right alongside swarms of nurse sharks, certainly a photo-op not to be missed!
Snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley.
The Marine Reserve has a USD $10 (BZD $5) per person entrance fee and allows both scuba diving and snorkeling; the Shark Ray Alley only allows snorkeling.
If you haven’t scuba dived in a while, the shallow depth of the water at the marine reserve also makes it a good refresher course location! Note you may be switched to a dive boat after this trip.
Be sure to book your night dive and day trips
Another popular itinerary is night dive at the Marine Reserve. In case you are not familiar, night diving is as its name suggest – you dive in complete darkness with only a flashlight to help map out the surroundings. This is often a great way to see marine life as most of them may have been hiding from divers/ other predators during the day. It is absolutely one of my favorite diving experiences (granted I don’t have a lot yet)! We saw so many marine animals during our 1hr dive and when we surfaced, we were welcomed by a sky full of stars.
Technically you only need two people to book a night dive tour, but dive masters are more prone to drive out for you if you have at least four divers. Two others from our daytime dive group were also interested, so we were able to secure a trip with the same group. Knowing who else I was diving with certainly made me feel a lot more comfortable underwater in near complete darkness!
Dive trips to Blue Hole and Turneff Atoll only took place once a week when we visited the resort due to low demand, so we decided to opt out of them. For those interested, make sure to contact the resort ahead of time to ensure the tour correlates well with your schedule. The trips took place on Tues (Blue Hole) and Wed (Turneff Atoll) when we visited.
If you stay with the resort, the cost can either be paid standalone or as part of your hotel bill.
Tips are not included in the pricing shown above, usually 10 ~ 20% is recommended.
Do we recommend diving with Ramon’s? YES!
Overall we LOVED diving with Ramon’s Village Resort and will definitely be back. One minor setback was the resort did not allow us to pre-book our dives. The contact information listed on the website was only for the resort’s U.S. sales representatives, so they did not know the logistics of the actual dive trips. We had to arrange all our dives on site. That said, I did notice a phone line at the shop, so maybe the resort does pre-book divers on certification courses, just not for regular dives. If you are in the same boat and can’t book your dives before the trip, I definitely recommend you to head to the dive shop early (before 5 pm) latest the day before you want to dive to sort through logistics!
Another setback was I was told the dive boats would leave daily for Blue Hole and Turneffe Atolls. Turned out this was not the case and there was only one planned dive trip for Blue Hole and another for Turneffe Atolls each week. It was Tues and Wed when we visited, but schedule may have changed so make sure to check beforehand and plan accordingly.
Despite these setbacks, we had a blast diving with the village crew. If you are interested in booking with Ramon’s Village, I have summarized the key steps below.
Key Steps: Booking a dive with Ramon’s Village
- Contact the resort at least a week ahead of your trip to confirm availability and trip schedule, ESPECIALLY IF
- You want to take a PADI course and need an instructor
- You want to dive at Blue Hole or Turneffe Atolls
- If you are not able to pre-book ahead of your trip, stop by the dive shop (located on the dock) ASAP. At least a day before you want to dive
- BUY SEA SICKNESS MEDICINE! The waves outside the reefs are 5′ tall. Even my friend who does not usually get sea sick was on the verge of throwing up. There are two pharmacies on the island within walking distance if you need to buy the medicine
- Arrive 30 min before dive boats leave, usually at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm. The crew will set up all your oxygen tanks for you
- Schedule night dives with your dive master! Night dives can be scheduled with at least 2 divers; higher chance of fruition with 4 divers
- Ask for a locker if you plan to dive multiple days
- Bring your own dive computer if you have one; seems to be a low rental commodity on the island
- Have fun!
Leave a comment below if you found this post useful, or if you have some diving experiences to share!