Easy-access diving off Belize beaches

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 6-12, 1997
Camping on the cheap on Kauai
Running the grueling Badwater 146
Hiking Mount Robson's Berg Lake Trail
Helping students plan their own adventure
Easy-access diving off Belize beaches

Easy-access diving off Belize beaches
Question: I'm looking for information on car-accessible, reasonably safe beach camping spots in the Caribbean where we could dive/snorkel from the beach. We're particularly interested in Belize and Bonaire, although any suggestions would be appreciated.

Joanne Fertig
Silver Spring, MD
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: My top pick: Belize's Blackbird Caye, an atoll in the Turneffe Islands that's a 90-minute boat ride off the coast of Belize City. Despite being renowned for its stellar saltwater fly fishing and scuba diving, Blackbird is miraculously low-key. At most, you'll be sharing the island with a bunch of marine scientists (there to study the coral reef a stone's throw from shore) and ecology students. The one drawback: The only motorized vehicles on the island are golf carts, so you'll need to leave your car, and your hope for a car-accessible beach, behind. Don't worry though, it's really just a matter of walking, and on this and the rest of the cayes, everybody does it.

Camping's best at Turneffe Flats, a small American-owned lodge on the northeastern tip of the cay. They have a handful of bungalows if you're craving a real bed, but their beach is ideal for sleeping out in the open, as long as you call in advance and let them know you're coming. Guided fly-fishing, diving, and snorkeling trips can all be arranged through the lodge, and meals are included. For details, call Turneffe Flats at 011-501-2-30116.

Another option is Caye Caulker, much closer to mainland. There's plenty of decent, inexpensive lodging on the waterfront, which makes camping a less attractive option. Try Ignacios Huts (011-501-2-22129) on the south end of the main beach in town. For $15 per night, you'll get your own thatched-roof cabana, with a private bath and your own palm tree out the front door. And, like the rest of the cayes, diving's great right offshore. Frenchie's Diving Services is a locally owned dive shop that charges $50 for a two-tank dive, equipment included; call 011-501-2-2234.

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