The best scuba diving in Belize

Immerse yourself in world-class diving on Turneffe Atoll

Thanks to an innovative approach to marine conservation, Turneffe Atoll has retained its biodiversity and offers the best scuba diving in Belize.


About Turneffe Atoll

Turneffe Atoll is the centrepiece of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, a Marine Protected Area on the eastern seaboard of Belize. It’s an isolated coral structure that’s a part of the longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, the Mesoamerican Reef. Turneffe consists of some 400 small islands, interspersed with other important habitats including shallow lagoons, mangrove forests and deeper water. The mangroves in particular are a big part of what makes Turneffe the best scuba diving in Belize. 

The protected status of Turneffe has ensured that the Atoll has been spared the ravages of overfishing and coral damage. Thanks to the excellent monitoring and research work carried out by TASA, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, Turneffe has retained its exceptional biodiversity. In addition to the natural reef, there are exciting diving opportunities on the best wreck dive in Belize, The Wit, an intentionally sunk ship which is being colonised by marine creatures. 

Did you know?

Turneffe Atoll is far less crowded than dive site around Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Escape the crowds!


Dive in to Turneffe Atoll

As with many reefs, Turneffe Atoll provides habitats for a great many species. Unlike some other diving destinations, it offers multiple dive sites that can be enjoyed by divers of varying skill levels, from novice to divemaster. The shallow waters of Turneffe offer a reassuring introduction to scuba for new divers, while the exceptional visibility all but guarantees excellent sightings and opportunities for underwater photography.

The shape of the Turneffe reefs means that shallow and deeper water can be found close to each other, making for a fascinating underwater landscape when you’re scuba diving Turneffe Atoll. Steep wall diving is a must-do activity at Turneffe. 


Diving Turneffe Atoll in numbers

Water depths at Turneffe range from 5 to 40m, with visibility up to 40m and rarely less than 15m. Currents are generally mild, while the water temperature is very pleasant, being consistently in the high 20s Centigrade.

Did you know?

You could dive the Turneffe Atoll every day for weeks and never visit the same dive site twice. 

© Jennifer Carr Photography


Meet the locals

Turneffe is a biodiversity hotspot, with a remarkable range of species – many of which are present in huge numbers, with some shoals of fish numbering in the thousands. Highlights including manatees, sea turtles, manta rays and larger pelagic fish, reflecting the proximity of deep water and the fact that Turneffe Atoll is 30km out to sea. Spotted eagle rays are frequently seen, with schools of snappers and jacks, plus shy larger fish including various groupers such as the Nassau grouper which spawns at Turneffe.

Parrotfish, angelfish and barracuda are all present, while shark fans will enjoy encounters with nurse and Caribbean reef sharks, plus hammerheads and blacktips.

Turneffe is an important breeding site for the American saltwater crocodile – meeting these reptiles in the open water makes for incredible diving memories. Last but not least, spotted and bottlenose dolphins can sometimes be seen.

Did you know?

Pilot whales and orcas migrate via Turneffe Atoll from March to June. 

© Jennifer Carr Photography


The best scuba dive sites at Turneffe Atoll

With over 70 different exciting dive sites to explore, scuba diving Turneffe Atoll can keep you occupied for at least a week of your Belize vacation, and potentially longer. It offers  dive sites that can be enjoyed by divers of varying skill levels, from novice to divemaster. For new divers, the shallow waters of Turneffe offer a reassuring introduction to scuba.  Below is our pick of the best of the bunch.

5 – 25m

The Wit

The Wit offers an amazing experience for divers, with opportunities to explore inside the ship via access hatches, and explore recesses where the anchor chains and molasses were stored. The profusion of marine life makes The Wit an especially rewarding dive, with excellent visibility in the crystal-clear, azure waters

18m - unlimited

The Elbow

The Elbow is the most popular site for scuba diving on Turneffe Atoll, and with good reason. Strong currents mean it is only really suitable for advanced divers. The Elbow can be found at the southern tip of Turneffe, and is known for amazing sightings of groupers, sharks and free-swimming schools of eagle rays.

11 – 18m

The Aquarium

A great introduction to scuba diving Turneffe Atoll, with fascinating coral formations to explore, and thousands of small, busy and colourful reef fish to observe. 

12 – 18m

Triple Anchors

Named for discarded artefacts, this dive site is representative of the western side of the Atoll, with a gently sloping reef and coral stacks.

6 – 15m


Another great spot for novice divers, Hollywood is sheltered from large waves, making it also ideal for snorkeling. This site is known for its many coral shapes, and growths of algae that attract many fish. 

11 – 18m

Permit Paradise

Permit are a focus for fans of flyfishing, but they can also be enjoyed by divers – and this is the spot to find them. Soft corals and sponges form a compelling backdrop.

Max 5m

Susie’s Shallows

A particular favourite of anyone who enjoys underwater photography, coral shapes and being surrounded by many different types of fish.

Max 25m

Cabbage Patch

An area known for its variety of corals, and their pristine condition – prepare to be blown away by the sheer beauty of this undersea garden.

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