This is a journal of my experience when getting open water certified in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The Scuba diving course allowed me to visit the Belize Barrier Reef, the Hol-Chan Marine Reserve, and Shark Ray Alley.
Belize is primarily comprised of cultural experiences and jungle and sea adventures. In the mainland, visitors can experience emerald rivers, jungle trails, trek mountains, spot diverse wildlife, and visit ancient Maya sites. The coast offers beautiful beaches, several cayes and atolls, clear turquoise water, marine life encounters, the beautiful coral gardens of the Barrier Reef, and of course, the acclaimed Great Blue Hole.
When I decided to take a short vacation in Ambergris Caye, my usual snorkeling adventure didn’t suffice this time since I really wanted to explore the vast underwater world. I had a great experience and now want to share it to you. Here’s a guide you can follow if you are interested in getting open water certified in Belize.
The PADI Open Water Diver course can be done in 3 days. You can arrange this with your hotel or check with any dive shop that you come across. My personal recommendation is Amigos del Mar – ask for instructor Eddie, he rocks!
The first day is the academic part and it involves watching a five-chapter introduction video. How long it takes will depend on an individual’s learning capacity and since I’m a fast learner, it took me three hours.
Chapter 1 introduces the student to the underwater world, the dive equipment, scuba systems and preface to the Buddy System. Chapter 2 continues by elaborates on the Buddy System, adapting to the underwater world, and respiration. Chapter 3 involves dive planning, problem management and general open water skills. Chapter 4 is all about knowing the dive accessories, your necessary health, breathing air at depth and introduction to dive tables/ computers. And finally, Chapter 5 is an entire overview which finalizes with a PADI course evaluation. It’s not difficult, it just sounds like it is.
The second day is always much better! After finishing off with the academic stuff, get ready for fun by experiencing your first dive.
It starts with a confined dive where the instructor reviews what you learned in class and ensures that you most importantly know how to properly breathe, communicate, equalize and also assist if someone encounters underwater issues.
That same day we headed out to dive an area near the Barrier Reef – it was a short dive grazing the coral gardens but oh how spectacular it was! I reassuringly told myself that being underwater is definitely worth the half day of video tutorials.
The final day we headed out to dive the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Since it’s a protected park, the aquatic life there is bountiful and remarkable! In addition to the variety of multi-colored fishes that surrounded us, I spotted a Goliath grouper feeding on a spiny lobster, numerous eagle rays, three huge sea turtles that kept swimming next to me and a barracuda gazed into my face twice!
At the end of the day, returning to the dock I realized that this was just the beginning of my diving adventures. On my next trip to Ambergris Caye, I would dive as many sites as possible.