A wide range of dives along the Belize Barrier Reef with its varied, teeming marine life, as well as resort dives and full or open water certification are available. Below a selection of the dive sites close to PORTOFINO:
Hol Chan Cut:
The perfect place to start, Hol Chan is a natural channel through the reef. This marine sanctuary covers about 5 square miles. An impressive amount of marine life and coral can be seen on this dive of about 30 feet (9 meters). Tidal currents funnel a steady supply of food to filter feeders such as gorgonians, seafans, sponges, schools of grunts and mutton snappers. Joining these plankton feeders are Nassau groupers, black groupers, Atlantic spade fish, cubera snappers and a huge congregation of schoolmasters. At the channel walls many eels can be seen, and large groupers will accompany divers right from the boat on.
One of the most favourite dive sites. The wreck is an old barge that was sunk on purpose in about 65 to 70 feet (20 meters) of water. The barge is now home to numerous nurse sharks, as well as a huge green moray eel and a variety of other fish in all sizes.
Mexico Rocks, located right in front of PORTOFINO, is a basically a cluster of coral heads. Truck size colonies of boulder coral 10 - 12 feet (3.5 meters) high nearly reach the surface and provide refuge to a wide variety of marine life. From flame scallops, anemones, sponges, tube worms, shrimp to moray eels, butterfly fish and wrasses inhabit this area. The shallow conditions and favourable light are perfect for underwater photography.
Another cut in the reef, close to PORTOFINO. Remains of an old barge called Changa's wreck lies just inside the reef in less than 10 feet (3 meters) of water. A variety of soft corals and encrusting sponges decorate the barge's frame and the rusted out hull is hanging-out from a small school of snappers. It is a great place to combine fish and wreck photography. Especially dramatic scenes exist when the midday sun sends shafts of light through the holes in the hull. During this 16 feet (5 meter) dive you can encounter stingrays searching for crustaceans and molluscs on the sand flats. Large orange and red starfish prowl the turtle grass area's for clams. Colourful tropical fish can be seen everywhere among the coral. Stoplight parrotfish, trumpetfish, bluestriped grunts, triggerfish, blue tang and rock beauties are an abbreviated list of what you can find here.
This is a spur-and-grove reef with deep and narrow canyons. The sand floored cuts fall to depths of over 100 feet (30.5 Meters). This area is home to many juvenile fish and an amazing display of healthy sponges and coral. Like so may other places along the reef, there is a dazzling variety of shapes and colours present. Also great photographing opportunities.
Punta Arena Canyons (Small Cut):
This is a deep cavern dive with vertically walled canyons, tunnels caves and deep intervening sand channels. The tops of coral ridges are mostly in the range of 60 - 75 feet (18-23 meters) but tunnel investigation takes you below 90 feet (27.5 meters). Exploration of a narrow tunnel two canyons north of the entry point is the main attraction. Its entrance is a gaping triangular opening at the base of a coral ridge. It is large enough to accommodate two divers side by side, but the passageway is not. The tunnel winds through the reef for about
75 feet (23 meters) to an exit point at 100 feet (30.5 meters). The tunnel bottom is covered with sand along its entire length, so visibility loss from re-sedimentation is generally not a problem. However parts of the tunnel fall into darkness because of its length and a right hand bend just before the exit.
This is just a small selection of the dive sites near to PORTOFINO, other famous dive sites include: Sandbar, Pillar Coral, Tackle Box Canyons, Tres Cocos, Basil Jones Canyons, Victoria Canyons, San Pedro Canyons, and many more.
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