I am a complete beginner and have never dived before. Is this ok and what do I need to bring? Many of our guests come to ReefCI to learn to dive. The PADI Open Water course fee is $100 USD. It is a wonderful place to learn with calm clear waters and little current. We swop the usual chlorine filled swimming pool for the Caribbean Sea and the classroom for a hammock under a palm tree! Make sure you bring the PADI Open Water manual with you along with the recreational dive planner and a log book. If possible, read through the manual prior to arrival and complete the knowledge reviews. This will really help when you are here. Please be aware that if you are doing your PADI Open Water course and book for 1 week, there is a limited amount of conservation work included. If you want to get more involved, we suggest you book for a longer term or come back in the future.
What dive equipment do I need to bring? You will definitely need to bring your own mask. An ill-fitting mask can impact the quality and comfort of your dives so it is worth spending a little time choosing one that fits your face shape. We do not provide wetsuits, booties or computers. A 3mm long wetsuit should suffice unless you really feel the cold. During the months of November through March, the water temperature is cooler, 25C/74F degrees. We provide BCDs, regulators, and fins but it’s always nicer diving with your own so bring them along if you have them. If you prefer not to carry your wetsuit, please check with us, we do have some in stock that you can borrow. Anyone wishing to participate in night dives MUST bring their own dive torch! Divers planning courses need to bring the PADI Manual for the planned course and if possible, complete the knowledge reviews prior to arrival. Divers doing the PADI Open Water course must also bring log books and recreational dive planners.
Do I need a visa to visit Belize? Belize was formally British Honduras and gained independence in 1981. Therefore, for British, Canadian, and US passports there are no special visa requirements for trips up to 1 month. If you plan to stay for longer, passports can be extended locally. Visa extensions cost $25 USD (about £15) per month.
When do I need to arrive in Placencia, Belize? We leave from Placencia to the island on Monday mornings and return from the island on Fridays. We recommend you fly in on Sunday and leave the following Saturday.
Do I need any special vaccinations or medication? 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. Some doctors recommend malaria tablets if you are planning to visit the jungle. Please check with your own doctor for malaria recommendations.
I am traveling on my own, is it safe to travel in Belize? All flights and buses run during the day and have adequate security. The Belizeans are very friendly towards tourists and harassment is not an issue. There is a law in Belize where locals can get up to a $2,000 fine or 6 months in prison if a tourist reports them for harassment! Most of the local people know each other and will get to know you too. They speak English and Creole.
Is there an ATM or bank in Placencia, Belize? Belize uses the Belizean Dollar which is 2 to 1 with the US dollar; however, US dollars are widely accepted. If bringing US dollars, try to bring smaller notes as most shops/restaurants will struggle to change larger notes. There are 3 banks in Placencia where you can access funds via debit or credit card. The banks have international ATM’s and can give cash advances on switch, delta or credit card. Therefore, it is not necessary to bring lots of cash with you.
How much money do I need to bring with me? Your spending money requirements will depend on how often you plan to go out socializing and what extra trips you plan to take at the weekends. Organized tours normally cost around $100 USD for a full day, or $ 60 USD for a half day, all inclusive. Once on the island during the week you don’t have to pay for much. We run an honesty system for beers, wine, and rum drinks and internet is included. A Marine Park fee of $25 USD per week is payable to Belize Fisheries Department for the maintenance and up keep of the Marine Park. This is all payable in cash in country at the end of your week. At weekends meals are not included. If you eat out, prices vary depending on the restaurant you choose. Belizean places are much cheaper than those serving international food. A typical international meal costs circa $50-100 BZD ($25-50 USD) and a typical Belizean meal can be as little as $20-20 BZD ($10-20 USD). Beers are circa $4-8 BZD ($2-4 USD). A rum and coke is about the same.
What is the weather like in Belize? The weather is one of Belize’s many charms, with an average yearly temperature of 84F/ 29C. We are in the tropics so it does rain regularly but more often than not it is at night which cools things down to make it much more comfortable for sleeping. During the winter months, it is worth bringing a jumper or sweater for the evenings. The water temperature is consistently around 80F/26F so a 3mm wetsuit is normally more than sufficient.
Are you open all year and when is the best time of year to come? We operate year-round except for the month of September when we close for staff holiday and island improvements and maintenance. Our official whale shark season is March-June; however, we often see them throughout the year. This is our busiest time of year so book early to avoid disappointment! Christmas and New Years are also lots of fun. Imagine diving on Christmas day from a beautiful remote Caribbean island…. And last year we had our first whale shark encounter of the year on the 1st January, an amazing start to the year!
I will be traveling on my own and worried that I will be the only one. Who usually comes on your trips? We attract a large number of single travelers so don’t worry, you won’t be alone! We don’t charge a single supplement and you do not have to share accommodation, which makes us very popular with individual travelers. We attract a huge cross section of demographics and have had guests as young as 3 and as old as 82. You will find that people coming on this type of vacation/holiday all have a shared passion for ocean conservation and diving, which makes for great group dynamics.
I am a bit of a fussy eater, is this a problem? We can cater for most dietary requirements. Upon booking just lets us know in the required dietary section.
I am interested in pursuing Marine Biology/Conservation as a career, will this help me? Absolutely! In fact, we run 2 intern programs, in January and August, specifically aimed at people like you. Check out the information on our Marine Conservation intern programs, you even get your work published in our annual report! If you want to do the intern program and can’t come in January or August, let us know what dates work for you and you can work alongside our marine biologist.
I need to be in contact with home while I am on the island, is this possible? Internet is normally available on the island, but cannot be guaranteed due to satellite weather disruptions. Please be aware that the connection is good enough for general use but not strong enough for large downloads such as movies.
It has been a few years since I have been diving, I may be a little rusty, is this ok? We appreciate that not everyone can dive regularly like us at ReefCI. Feel free to share any concerns you have with the team when you arrive and they will give you a refresher or take you on a shallower, maybe shore dive to start with to help regain your confidence. Most of our guests are excited about getting in the water but are a little nervous having not dived for a while. The ReefCI team are here to help you every step of the way, and don’t worry, it will all come back to you pretty quickly!
I love diving but I am worried that 2-3 dives a day might be too much for me, is this a problem? You can get as involved as you like. Feel free to do the early morning dive, or simply chill in a hammock under a palm tree! It is totally up to you! We completely appreciate that although you are helping us collect valuable data, it is also your vacation too!
I am not a scientist but I am passionate about diving and conservation. Will I still be able to make a significant contribution? Our trips are designed for people just like you! The research methodologies we teach are very simple and straight forward and you can learn all you need to know to help us collect our data in the training session prior to the dive. We try to give the general diver a unique opportunity to learn about and help conserve the marine environment while having a fun vacation/holiday. Our trips are for both experienced and non-experienced divers, scientists and non-scientists alike, everyone makes a contribution regardless of their background and experience.
What can I do before my trip to enhance my conservation experience? ReefCI uses the “Paul Humann Reef Fish, Reef Coral and Reef Creatures” identification books. These are great informative books that you may wish to purchase as reference books prior to your ReefCI trip. They are big heavy books so we don’t expect you to bring them with you, unless you have space, we have copies on the island for use during your stay. It always helps if you can familiarize yourselves with the different fish groups.
Do I need any special insurance or will my standard policy cover me? Diving insurance is mandatory. Most travel insurance policies can include dive insurance up to 30 meters (98 feet). ReefCI dives are typically 6-18 meters (20-60 feet). If you wish to dive the Blue Hole, for insurance purposes, please be aware that it is a 40 meter (131 feet) dive. We recommend DAN (divers alert network).