Central America is home to the second longest barrier reef in the world, home to a thriving and colourful coral reef and numerous outer atolls. In certain places the reef is so close you can kayak out to it from the shoreline for a day of snorkelling, or take a boat to explore the lesser visited areas. For divers there are dives for all standards including; wall dives, drift dives, standard dives and night dives.
Belize is one of the easiest ways to experience this underwater world as the cayes are so close to the reef. The reef here is most diverse offering shallow waters for beginners to deeper drop offs for the more experienced. The outer atolls are superb for divers, offering some of the best diving in the world with the blue hole being a particular favourite. The reef is home to an enormous array of fish from small and colourful to larger more intimidating ones as well being home to a variety of rays, sharks and eels.
Within South America there are few places that offer such opportunities, diversity and ease with which to see such an underwater world. One of the best is Fernando de Noronha off the north east coast of Brazil, a national park island with excellent diving, though expensive to reach. Alternatively there are the shallows off the island of Morro de Sao Paulo in Brazil, though more rock than corals. Alternatively the Los Roques archipelago off the Venezuelan coast can offer a glimpse into this secret world.
Belize is home to the largest section of the barrier reef in the Americas. The reef has crystal clear waters with beautiful coral gardens and a reef system which is home to an impressive range of marine life from clownfish to the stunning whale shark.
Despite its enormous coastline, Brazil has very few places which are good for diving and snorkelling. The one exception is the small national park island of Fernando de Noronha situated 500 km off its north east coast. Time consuming and expensive to get to due to the flights means few people make it this far out, but your rewards for making here are worth it.
What makes Mexico such a popular place for snorkelling and diving is the combination of soft brilliantly white beaches coupled with the excellent visibility in the warm and clear Caribbean waters.
Central America is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to dive. A full PADI course will usually take around 5 days to complete; although many dive schools can arrange for you to do an introductory dive.