Written by Ron Sniffin
“Did you see the dolphins yesterday?” asked the diver sitting next to me as we leave the dock next to Las Terazzas Resort. “It was amazing, the most incredible dive I’ve ever had,” exclaimed Cesar Cuevas. Equally giddy about the experience was his wife Rachell.
Today we are on our way to dive Hol Chan (a Maya word that means small channel) Marine Reserve. The weather is perfect with only a slight breeze, and the water is crystal clear, highlighting the array of blues and turquoise colors that make the Caribbean famous. Belize has long been considered among the best dive destinations on the planet. And in this small Caribbean country, the island of Ambergris Caye offers countless diving experiences just minutes from her shore.
San Pedro town offers numerous dive operations with dive masters who ensure a memorable and safe experience. Today we are with White Sands Dive Shop, among the oldest and prestigious dive operations on the island. Owner and operator Elbert Greer has a staff of seven who are dive masters, diving instructors, fishing guides, snorkel guides and boat captains. Four of the guides are with us today as we travel the short distance to Hol Chan, which offers an underwater experience for every class of diver.
Five of us who are experienced divers will tour with Carlos; two are snorkeling with their own guide; two are first time divers who will attain their open water certification with head instructor Ruben; and a couple from England have their own guide. Each guide helps their patrons with their equipment, double-checking every detail.
One by one we plunge into the water. Immediately we are greeted by a diverse array of underwater creatures. A huge grouper appears to be about the same size as our dive master! Gradually our group descends along the south wall of the channel. A majestic eagle ray passes just feet below, and soon a pair of nurse sharks swim past.
As we move up the north wall, we see a countless variety of fish as they either traverse the coral, or clump together in huge schools, such as the yellow snappers and blue tangs. Soon we catch sight of a sea turtle whose shell glistens as it surfaces for a quick gulp of air before diving again to dine on turtle grass.
The shallow dive of less than 30 feet allows us to stay under for nearly an hour. As we emerge, more stories are shared. “Did you see the eel?” exclaimed Margret Bayston. “It came right out and touched my BC,” she continued. Having dived all over the world, Margaret shared that this is among the best dive destinations she has ever experienced and the people of White Sands Dive Shop among the most professional and fun. Once back at the dive shop at Las Terrazas, she and her husband immediately book another dive for the next day.