Scuba Diving Vacation
A day in the life – The Scuba Vacation ZEN!
We rise with the sun, and after a cup of coffee, fresh fruit, and maybe a biscuit, we go diving! After all, there is no better way to start the day and work up a healthy appetite for the scrumptious Belizean breakfast that awaits us upon return. The second dive of the day is mid-morning, which allows time for some conservation training, PADI instruction, or just lounging in a hammock in the cool Caribbean breeze with a good book. Most dive sites are only ten minutes or so from the island, so after Dive 2, we head back for some lunch. Dive 3 is mid-afternoon, and whenever possible and weather permitting, we offer a night dive (hopefully one each week) if you are interested. After this, we unwind watching the sunset over the sea with a local beer or rum punch rounds off the day. We call it a day with a lovely dinner with interesting, like-minded singles. Our scuba diving vacations promise endless fun, food, and provide numerous opportunities to make new friends. It’s all there to enjoy and remember!
Private Room $1,100
Travel days are indicated in yellow and scuba days in green.
Our scuba week is not exclusively singles but this vacation is a mix of both singles & couples of all ages who come to dive from all over the world.
Scuba Package includes:
Scuba Package includes:
- 5 days/4 nights Scuba Vacation on Private Island (See Video)
- 3 Meals Daily During Dive Week
- 3 Daily Dives (Fri. 1 Dive)
- Airport Pickup & Drop off
- For Beginners: PADI Open Water Certification ($550 Value)
- Pre-tripHotel in Placencia (Sunday Night)
- Post-tripHotel in Placencia (Friday Night)
- Price includes all island transfers, Monday till Friday while on the island,
meals, accommodation, conservation training, diving equipment (please see
below) and all the diving and snorkeling. We can supply BCD’s, regulators, and fins. We do not supply masks, booties, wetsuits (we do have some in stock, check with us if you cannot bring
your own wetsuit) dive computers or watches. Anyone wishing to participate in night dives MUST bring their own dive
- Divers planning certification courses need to bring the PADI manual for the planned
Divers doing the PADI Open Water course must also bring log books and
electronic recreational dive planners. See here for manual.
- Price includes all island transfers, Monday till Friday while on the island,
- Round trip air flight from Belize International Airport to Placencia
- We suggestTropic Air. Flights approx. $233 USD round trip from Belize to Placencia.
- Insurance: Divers Alert Network; is a popular choice amongst divers, they offer comprehensive dive insurance at reasonable rates. Please bring a copy of your insurance documents with you for ReefCI to file.
- Please also be aware that we are working in the Sapodilla Cayes, which is a Marine Reserve Park. The Belizean Department of Fisheries charge a marine park fee of $25 USD per week to help maintain the National Marine Park.
Daily Scuba Itinerary:
- Placencia Airport Pickup
- Dropoff at your weekend hotel
- 9 AM: Leave Placencia, island orientation, refresher/recreational/lionfish dives
- Island Orientation & Private Cabana Assignment
- Dive Kit Allocation & First Dive
- (New Divers: First Theory Session – First Water Session)
- Tuesday: Fish Day – fish I.D., commercial fish surveys and lionfish spearing
- Wednesday: Coral and Invertebrates Day – Coral and invert I.D., coral watch surveys, and
- Thursday: Commercial species survey, Lionfish spearing, ReefCI check survey
- Friday: Survey dives, return to mainland
- 8 AM: Breakfast
- 9 AM: Final Dive
- 12 PM: Depart for Mainland
- Drop-off at Hotel
- 6 AM: Dining area opens (example: fruit, biscuits, tea & coffee)
- 7:30 AM: First Daily Dive (Deep Dive)
- 9 AM: Return to Island
- Quick Shower, Full Breakfast (example: eggs, pancakes, sausages, bacon beans, juice & coffee)
- 11:30 AM: Dive 2
- 1 PM: Lunch (example: burritos, chicken salad, quesadillas, sandwiches & nachos)
- 3 PM: Dive 3
- 6 PM: Drinks, Watch Sunset & Dinner (example: lionfish, lobster (in season) fish steaks, garlic shrimp, spaghetti bolognese, et al.)
The above itinerary is to ensure that people get the most out of the trip. However, it is also based upon flexibility and can be adapted according to individual requirements. The survey dives will be dependent upon the individual’s buoyancy control. Itineraries are subject to the length of the trip. In terms of the survey work, each day will differ but you could be working in the following
- Lionfish population monitoring and control
- Queen Conch surveys
- Lobster surveys
- Commercial fish surveys
- Reef health surveys – ReefCI check & Coral watch
- Whale shark monitoring
- Coral reef bio-diversity
Trips on the weekends to the jaguar sanctuary, jungle, caves, waterfalls, ziplining/rappelling, Mayan ruins, etc. can be arranged. Belize has so much to offer!
- Our one night dive is weather permitting. On that night, we will dive at 6pm and dine when we return.
- Alcohol is not included. Guests can help themselves to wine and beer, and settle the bill at the end of the week. Please bring cash as we do not accept credit cards on the island.
- A $25 USD marine park fee is payable to Belize Fisheries for maintenance and upkeep of the Marine Reserve.
- If you take the PADI course, we have two instructors and will divide the class up as needed.
- You will need a passport – British, Canadian, and US passports are valid and there are no special visa requirements for trips up to 1 month.
- Vaccinations:There are currently no vaccination requirements for Belize. However, it is a good idea to be up-to-date on diphtheria, typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus, polio, cholera, and rabies before
you leave home. It is recommended that you discuss your trip with your doctor and get
advice prior to departure.
- Medical:There is a first aid kit on the island and basic medical items can be bought
However, you should certainly bring with you an ample supply of any medicine or
drug which you use regularly. Your day-to-day kit should include, something to combat
pain and headaches and traveler’s diarrhea (e.g. Imodium). Also antiseptic cleansing tissues, antihistamine, insect repellent containing DEET, and something for the relief of sunburn.
- Money:There are a number of banks in Placencia where you can access funds via debit or credit
The banks have international ATM’s and can give cash advances on switch, delta, or
credit card.We recommend that you have some U.S. dollars in cash with you for the journey and for
the first few days after arrival, plus you will need to pay for certain items in cash on the
island (see below). U.S. and Belizean dollars are accepted everywhere.
- Cash Requirements:You will need to bring enough cash (preferably US dollars) to pay for the following items on the island before you leave, as we do not accept credit cards or PayPal in
-Marine Park Fee ($25US/week)
-PADI Courses (Advanced Open Water, Rescue, etc.)
-Beverages (e.g., beer, rum)
-Administration Fees (e.g., $50US for the PADI Open Water Course)
Tips are not included and are always appreciated! Our guests often ask us what they should do regarding gratuities for staff. It’s always a difficult one to answer because it is personal. However, a general protocol is to leave individual tips for your guides and instructors and leave the rest with the person in charge to be distributed between the staff.
The PADI Open Water qualification is included so if you don’t have it on arrival it will take place during your first week on the island. The course generally takes a minimum of 3 days and guests have only Monday-Friday on the island so it will take up the majority of your first week on the project.
To complete your Open Water qualification you will need to bring the PADI Open Water manual with you, a logbook as well as a $50 USD administration fee paid in country upon completion.
Open Water Divers:
If you are already a diver, we offer a shallow, shore dive as a refresher for the first dive on Monday.
Your existing qualification will mean you can get straight on with the research work during week one.
If you would like to complete your Advanced Open Water course, so that you can get involved in deeper dives, you will need to pay an additional $100USD for the PADI Advanced course. You are advised to bring a PADI Advanced Open Water manual with you. We do have spare manuals for those who wish to wait and choose to do the course after talking to our Instructors upon arrival.
Your experience will mean you are able to join the research immediately, though you are
welcome to have a refresher course on the first day. If you are interested in getting
further qualifications such as your Rescue Diver or Divemaster qualification you can also
do these for an additional cost. Let us know if this is something you are interested in and
we will be able to give you more details.
What to Bring:
• A re-usable water bottle – There is plenty of purified water available on the island to re-fill your bottle with.
• Towels (hand towel and a beach towel). We can provide towels however, it is very difficult to purchase high quality towels locally, and thus any towel donations would be greatly appreciated.
• Water resistant luggage is not mandatory but helpful, a dry bag or Ziploc bag, for all electronics and valuables.
• A large plastic garbage bag to transport wet items back to Placencia on Friday
• Swimwear, at least a couple of bikinis or shorts as you will be in the water most days.
• Shorts, at least a couple of pairs. Quick-drying materials recommended.
• Vest (tank) tops and t-shirts. Quick-drying materials recommended.
• Long pants/trousers.
• Thin long sleeved fleece for the evenings (only during winter months) and a lightweight waterproof shell/jacket (thicker for the boat during winter months) Keep this handy for the boat journey, just in case!
• Walking boots or trainers for jungle visits, walking, etc. Flip flops, sandals or crocs too.
• High factor (SPF) sunscreen and lip balm (especially for the boat rides), after-sun lotion.
• Sunglasses and a hat
• Mosquito repellent recommended with DEET (not available to buy in Belize)
• Something light to sleep in i.e. thin nightdress for women.
• Spray in hair conditioner to help conserve water
• Flashlight and/or Dive Torch with spare batteries.
• Swiss army knife (optional).
• Camera with spare batteries..
• Books, Kindles, Playing cards.
• Computers, iPods/iPads, musical devices for the evenings if you have any favorites, along with power adapters (US)
• Photocopy of your passport
We would appreciate it if you could use biodegradable and phosphate free shampoos and soaps on the island such as Dr. Bronner’s. It is not possible to buy these locally in Belize, so any donations at the end of our trip would be greatly appreciated. We would also appreciate biodegradable and phosphate free dish detergent.
What to Bring For Diving:
A full 3mm wetsuit is recommended; shorty wetsuits may be ok for some people. Water temp can get as low as 26ºC (78.5ºF) in the winter months.
- A dive mask and snorkel
- PADI certification cards and Log Book (if applicable) People wishing to learn to dive need to purchase the PADI Open Water manual, Recreational Dive Planner and logbook. padi.com
- Divers planning courses need to bring the PADI manual for the planned course and whenever possible work through the knowledge reviews.
- Those wishing to do night dives MUST bring a dive light/torch.
- We do not supply dive computers or dive watches however it is not necessary to have one.
It is very difficult for us to get supplies, we would sincerely appreciate your donations of spare items you could bring should you have them available and have space in your luggage:
• Graphite pencils for underwater use
• Towels & bed linen, again it is very difficult to purchase high quality towels & bed linen in Placencia so any donations will be greatly appreciated
• Dive slates
• Any dive equipment i.e. BCD’s, regulators, wetsuits, fins, masks, torches, etc.
• Recent dive magazines or fashion magazines
• Reusable Shopping Bags
• Fishing lures
• Torches (dive lights)
• Games for the evening
• Medications (e.g., Sinutabs, anti-histamine, etc.)
• Tea bags
- English and Dijon Mustard
Do not purchase you air to Belize until we confirm your reservation and speak with our host who will help with your reservations.
Air Travel/Baggage Allowance:
Most airlines will only allow 1 or 2 items of luggage on the plane and 1 carry on item. Check the baggage allowance with the airline carrier prior to departure. Providing your international carrier has no problem with your luggage, it will be no problem for Tropic Air, our recommended airline for in country air travel to Placencia.
Airport security: In recent years security checks have been stepped up in major international airports. Bear this in mind when packing any electrical appliances in your luggage. You will probably be asked to remove batteries and hand them over to security staff before your flight. Sharp objects, such as knives and scissors, should be packed in your main luggage, as most carriers will not allow them inside the aircraft cabin. Allow extra time to check in where possible. In most international airports the minimum check in time is 2 to 3 hours prior to departure.
U.S. Airports: Be aware that security is extremely tight at most USA major airports. If you are connecting from a non-US country, expect a line for immigration. After the overnight stay in North America, check-in the next day can be extremely slow. Allow 3 hours if possible.
Belize City: The internal flights are small propeller planes that fly regularly. The typical
itinerary for Tropic Air is as follows:
Belize International Airport to Placencia:
10:00am arrive 10:30am
11:00am arrive 11:30am
12:25pm arrive 12:55pm
12:45pm arrive 01:20pm
1:40pm arrive 02:15pm
2:45pm arrive 3:20pm
3:40pm arrive 4:10pm
4:45pm arrive 5:20pm
5:00pm arrive 5:30pm
We Book Your Local Flight from Belize to Placencia:
Once you have your International flights, email them to us and we will book your internal flights with Tropic Air. Bring your confirmation with you and after you clear customs, go to the Tropic Air desk. You can pay upon check-in and they do accept credit cards. If you have to wait at Belize International for a connecting flight, there is a bar upstairs and another one in the departure lounge. The current cost of the flight is $233.75 USD round trip, and it is great fun. The plane flies along the coastline where you can see the reef and coral cays on one side and the jungle on the other. Have your camera ready!
When you arrive:
Our staff, taxi, or hotel representative will be there to meet you at Placencia airstrip. Once in Placencia, Belize, on Monday morning please make your way to the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi dock in Placencia to depart for the ReefCI island. Our boat will pick you up from there at approximately 9:00-9.30am. Alternatively, if you are staying at Sailfish Hotel in Placencia, on Monday morning our boat will pick you up directly from Sailfish at approximately 9:00-9.30am.
If your flight is early or delayed, please contact our in-country Director of Marine Science and Operations Manager, Frank Hachmann, at (+501) 664-3507 or (+501) 605-2312 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be prepared for the boat ride out to the island. It takes circa 1-2 hours to get out to the island and sometimes the sea can get choppy. Make sure you apply a high factor sun tan lotion prior to the trip. Your luggage will be stored in the hold of the boat, so make sure your waterproofs are out of your main luggage and easy to get to. To help us keep our boat light, it would be very helpful if you can pack a light bag and leave any heavy boots or un-needed items for storage at your mainland hotel or with our staff to securely store until your return on Friday.
During the week your accommodation will be on the island where you will have the option of either the main house or beachside cabanas. In the main lodge there are double rooms suitable for couples, twin rooms and family rooms suitable for groups of friends or families. The cabana bathroom facilities are shared (pedal-toilets) though the rooms in the house are all en-suite. There is a friendly communal area with colorful underwater murals on the walls. There are plenty of hammocks around the island to relax in.
A generator is kept in its own room to reduce noise pollution. It is run all night on the island allowing guests to charge their laptops, iPhones, iPods and cameras etc. and use a fan if the sea breeze is not enough. This generator is turned on in the evening so during the day electricity is limited.
Internet is available during the mornings, evenings and often between dives.
Meals and Drinking Water:
All meals and drinking water are provided for you while you are at the island. There is an
honesty book system on the island, which has a small selection of sodas, beers, and rum drinks available at an additional cost. At weekends volunteers are responsible for their own meals.
We are Known for Our Great Food! Sample Island Menu:
Early morning fresh fruit, tea, coffee and biscuits.
Breakfast Fried jacks, sausages, scrambled eggs and refried beans or banana pancakes with ham and eggs.
Lunch Island chicken salad or chicken and veggie quesadilla’s or fresh fish burritos.
Dinner Lionfish fingers with cilantro, homemade garlic tartar sauce served with fresh salad and coconut rice or chicken curry with okra and yellow ginger rice or bbq whole fish with garlic mash and mixed veggies, or garlic lobster with cilantro mash and garlic zucchini.
Dessert Coconut tart or pineapple up-side-down cake or chocolate rum cake with a rum butter sauce.
All dietaries requirements are catered for. We use freshly caught fish, lobster and conch (when in season) and island ingredients such as fresh coconut.
We have several ongoing research projects…
Lionfish are indigenous in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Red Sea but not the Atlantic Caribbean belt. In their natural habitat, they have a diet that is not a threat to the environment; there are many more varieties of species and they have natural predators. However, in the Atlantic Caribbean Oceans they are an invasive predator, feeding on species that are key to our environment such as juvenile groupers, parrotfish and crustaceans.
Lionfish are voracious predators and consume juvenile fish recruits. In thirty minutes one lionfish was observed eating more than twenty fish!! ReefCI found a lionfish with a Blue Chromis in its stomach, the Lionfish measured 18cm and the Blue Chromis measured 9cm! That is half its body size in one mouthful! It’s like a human being eating a sheep in one gulp!!
Most fish species spawn once or twice a year over maybe a 2-month period during the full moon. Lionfish release their eggs every 4 days!! They can release up to 20,000 eggs. They do not release the eggs until they are fully developed making the chance of survival much higher. This means they reproduce at an alarming rate. They reach sexual maturity in less than 1 year! And they can live until they are around 15 years!
ReefCI is currently working with local restaurants. We are giving them lionfish to include on their menus to introduce lionfish as a food source and to increase awareness of this problem amongst their customers!! Lionfish ceviche, lionfish fish cakes, fried whole lionfish, all delicious to eat.
Scientists are predicting that lionfish will have a grave impact on Belize’s already stressed stocks of fish and lobster and could spell potential disaster to our marine habitats.
What will you be doing?
Here in southern Belize, we spotted our first lionfish in November 2009 but they were few and far between. Now we are spotting them on every dive and sometimes as many as 50-100 at one dive site. This is a dramatic increase and extremely worrying as we are the only divers in the area. ReefCI divers and snorkelers are actively involved in removing this invasive lionfish from Belizean waters. The divers are taking a spear on most dives and removing as many as they can!! So….for once in your life you can do something that is banned in most marine parks and go spear a fish!!! Great fun!
After capture, we dissect some of the fish and study their stomach contents. Guests often get lionfish on the dinner menu, cooked in garlic and black pepper or ceviche, they are extremely tasty!!
The Caribbean Spiny Lobster is a high commercial value species throughout the Caribbean. Over the past few decades the populations have been seriously depleted due to an increase in over fishing. In many countries in the Caribbean there are now open and closed seasons. The closed season is normally when the females are ready to release their eggs into the water column. During the closed season in Belize of February through to June, lobsters are banned from fishing and from restaurant menus.
Together with the Belize Department of Fisheries, we monitor the population of lobsters. We concentrate on the migratory paths to the continental shelf where the females release their eggs.
The lobster survey is conducted using the rover diver technique. We go down in groups of about 6 divers with the person at the bottom of the line at about 25m and the person at the top of the line on the top of the wall. Two people carry slates and a measuring stick (the lobster molester!) We move along the wall at the same pace for about 100 metres. Each lobster has to be coaxed out of its hole using the stick. First we ascertain what sex the lobster is, then we measure the total length and tail length and if the lobster is a female we look to see if it is carrying eggs. We do the same for about another 100m on the top of the wall with the deepest diver moving to the top of the line and the person who was on the top remaining where they were.
EcoMar Coral Watch:
The Meso-American Coral Reef Watch Program was launched in 2008 in Belize, Mexico,and Honduras by The Nature Conservancy as an early warning alert system for coral bleaching in the region and in Belize has been supported by the World Wildlife Fund.
The goal of the program is to raise awareness among stakeholders – marine guides, visitors, non-governmental organizations and government departments – on the increasing impacts climate change may have on the delicate balance that exists on tropical coral reefs.
Once aware of the conditions inherent of a natural and healthy reef, guides, visitors and park rangers can submit regular reports on the conditions of the reefs so that changes over time can be measured.
The program monitors levels of coral bleaching of stony corals. As sea temperatures rise during the later summer months, the corals begin to get stressed and first become pale, then turn partially white, and then if the sea temperatures remain too warm for too long the entire coral colony can become completely white.
Corals can exhibit varying levels of resistant to increasing sea temperatures. What makes corals in certain areas of the reef resistant to the impacts of climate change can be repeated stress from locally warmer waters or sediment-laden run-off. The corals in these areas have acclimatized to these conditions and become resilient. The acroporid corals – elkhorn and staghorn – that are growing on the reef now are believed to be resilient to our warming seas.
Our team have developed a coral reef monitoring protocol that is more focused on the unique marine ecosystem of southern Belize. Still employing simple techniques that non-scientific divers can easily master, we aim to collect scientifically robust data allowing us to monitor and report on our coral reefs health. The check is a comprehensive assessment of the health of coral reefs. We have fine-tuned the “indicator species” observed based on the ecological and economical value and sensitivity to anthropogenic disturbances, specific to the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. A new aspect to our methodology is counting the male and female Parrot fish, while still including Groupers, Surgeon fish, Butterfly fish, Grunts, Snappers, and the invasive Lionfish. Invertebrates, coral bleaching/disease, trash and coral damage will be recorded and the substrate composition thoroughly mapped.