Searching for a good intro scuba diving tour can be a bit nerve wracking. For one, you want to make sure that you’re going to be left in good hands and that you’ll have a skilled and knowledgable instructor. Secondly, you want to be able to have a relaxing and exciting tour where you’re able to spend plenty of time in the ocean exploring the reef. If you’re looking for a beginner or intro scuba dive tour in Ambergris Caye, Belize, then I highly recommend going with Belize Pro Dive Center.
Here’s a review of our recent experience with them.
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Communication is superb from the beginning
We booked our tour about a month in advance and from the first email I sent to the Dive Center, I was thoroughly impressed with the swift responses I received from Belize Pro Dive Center staff, answering all of my questions and putting me at ease.
They worked with me to put together the best package for me and made sure that all of my concerns were met while booking. If you value quick responses and excellent customer service then you won’t be let down by this company.
The pricing for the intro training course and one dive for two people was $340 USD, which was not bad, considering how long the dive was and the level of service we were given.
The orientation was thorough but not exhausting
This was my fifth scuba dive but Brad’s first, thus I had just a little bit of experience having gone through a few introduction dives before. I’ll say that my experience with the Belize Pro Dive Center was the best out of all of them. The reason is that our guide, Ian, was a very talented instructor and the entire process from beginning to end ran without a hitch.
The dive center first situated us in a swimming pool for the training. Our instructor Ian went over the gear and how everything works and then we immediately got started on the skills of locating our respirator, removing water from our goggles, equalizing pressure in our ears, and learning how to control our buoyancy.
During this process, Brad had some issues with his goggles leaking and had to try on like four or five pairs to finally get a pair that fit. Our guide was very patient through this process and insisted that Brad get just the right fit for his goggles before we proceeded to head out on the boat.
Tip: If you’re a newb like me and don’t know, shaving your mustache will cut down on water leaking into your goggles!
After about 30 to 40 minutes of splashing about in chlorinated waters of the Banyan Bay Hotel pool, we were all set and ready to load up in the boat and head out to the second largest barrier reef in the world!
Ready for the dive
There were about 10 divers total who went along with us on the boat but our diving group consisted only of Ian and me and Brad. This made for a pretty intimate experience and it was great for Brad since it was his first ever scuba dive and his nerves were a little (okay a lot) on edge.
After we made it about 10-15 minutes out to sea we were at our diving spot. The surf had kicked up a bit so we had to jump into some pretty choppy water conditions. All my other previous dives were into completely calm waters so it made me feel a little uneasy but Ian reiterated that once we were submerged a few feet, the currents wouldn’t affect us.
This being Brad’s first dive, he was getting a bit anxious going down and I could sense a bit of panic knocking on the door. As Brad grew more tense by the second, Ian emphasized slow breathing and worked to calm Brad’s nerves. It took a little bit of time, but I think Ian earned Brad’s trust, which is an invaluable asset for any instructor and why I think this place is a sure-fire way to go for beginners like ourselves.
Once Brad got a bit settled, we were finally ready to descend in a smooth and controlled fashion to the ocean floor. From that point on it was pure diving bliss for both me and Brad!
Exploring new depths
My previous scuba dives had consisted of reaching maximum depths of up to 30 feet but in this dive I believe we hit up to 50-60 feet, so that was an entirely new experience for me. As I looked back up at the surface of the water from the sea floor, I could tell that we’d descended much deeper than I had ever done and was excited to start exploring the reef at these depths.
Ian wore a wristband so he could communicate to us via what looked like some kind of special underwater pencil. This was really an asset as we could communicate with more than mere hand signals if something went awry. But what was really cool about it is that he could tell us what all of the fish and coral that we were seeing were. This interactive approach to diving was a first for me and it really enriched our underwater experience.
We moved through the reef at a steady pace but with plenty of pauses to appreciate and investigate our surroundings. At one point a sea turtle approached and Ian took our GoPro to get some awesome shots of the sea turtle and even got some shots of me and Brad. Despite my previous dives in the Great Barrier Reef, I’d never encountered a sea turtle so I was pretty thrilled to have such a close encounter with one.
We saw tons of other marine life as well, such as trumpet fish, hog fish, grouper, parrot fish, angel fish, and tons of other brightly colored fish and interestingly shaped coral. Although it was fun recording video with the GoPro on the dive, I found out that I much prefer using an underwater camera to capture stills rather than video, so next time I head out I’m going to go with a standard underwater camera.
Every so often, Ian checked up on our oxygen/pressure levels and monitored us closely, constantly checking in with us to make sure we were good. We never once felt like we were being unattended for longer than we’d like.
A longer intro dive
Another difference with this intro dive from previous dives I had done was the length — our dive lasted for about 47 minutes, which was much longer than the 25-30 minute dives I’d done before. Of course, time flies when you’re having fun so it felt shorter than that but I liked that we were able to stay down there for so long.
At the end of our dive we paused midway to the surface to prevent decompression sickness and then finally surfaced and waited for our boat to come and get us as we bobbed in the water. The boat soon picked us up and we were back in the boat in no time and headed back to shore.
Without a doubt, I highly recommend the Belize Pro Dive Center and if you can catch him, book your intro dive with Ian (I’m sure the other instructors are awesome as well). If you’ve never done an intro dive don’t underestimate the impact that a good instructor can have on keeping you calm. It can make all the difference and I really think it helped Brad get settled and enjoy the dive. Unfortunately, I got hit with a bad dizzy spell after our dive and we decided to just explore the island after our first dive, but I will definitely be going back to Belize Pro Dive Center when we return to Ambergris Caye in the future!
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.