There is a great variety of reef types and diving & snorkeling experiences in Belize. The Barrier Reef is 185 meandering miles (298 km) of unspoiled beauty. It varies from 8 to 16 miles (13-26 km) from the mainland to less than one mile (1.6 km) offshore from Ambergris Caye. Much of it is totally unexplored and all of it is easily accessible by boat. The reef is like a gigantic wall running parallel to the coast. Between the mainland and the reef are shallow, sandy waters with numerous mangrove-covered islands (cayes).
While much of the flora and fauna is similar throughout the reef system, there are individual differences to be found everywhere. A particular type of fish may be seen on almost every dive, but during mating season it may congregate in only one or two areas in great numbers. Hard corals, gorgonians, sea fans, tunicates, and shellfish of amazing variety populate Belize coastal waters, but the predominance of one in a particular stretch of reef may give that area its name. Similarly, there are areas where grouper are known to shoal, others where large stingray are prolific or where the diver may encounter a whale shark. The manta ray and spotted eagle ray are fairly common, and the diver can reasonably expect to see one of these magnificent creatures during his visit. Hammerhead shark,Caribbean reef shark and even the oceanic white tip shark are seen occasionally, but these lucky sightings are rare.
Ambergris Caye is justly the most popular attraction to the tourists who come to Belize. The factor that most contributes to this is the unbelievably superb diving & snorkeling conditions. Accessibility to the dive sites, such as Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Islands, as well as many excellent sites right off Ambergris Caye, combined with excellent weather conditions, clear warm water, the variety of dive sites and in the unlikely chance that a diving accident should occur, the hyperbaric chamber is minutes away from any of the dive sites.