Located in Central America, Belize is bordered to the south and west by Guatemala, to the north by Mexico and to the east by the beautiful Caribbean Sea. This diverse country has various cultures and languages and has the lowest population density in Central America.
Belize is well known for its extreme biodiversity and its distinctive ecosystems. Swampy coastal plains covered in mangrove swamps cover the coast and the south and interior of the country is predominantly covered in hills and low mountains. Being a part of the Mesoamerica biodiversity hotspot, it has many wildlife reserves, jungles, a large variety of different species of fauna and flora and the biggest cave system in Central America. Some bespoke species of Belize’s flora and fauna include the mahogany tree, the toucan, tapirs and the black orchid.
Home to the largest barrier reef located in the Northern hemisphere, Belize boasts by having the second biggest reef system in the world.
UNESCO inscribed it as a World Heritage Site back in 1996 and is now comprised of a total of seven protected areas; Blue Hole Monument, South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.
Off of the coast of Belize, lies a giant submarine sinkhole known as The Great Blue Hole. It is located in the centre of Lighthouse Reed, a small atoll, 70 km (43 miles) away from the mainland and from Belize City.
The hole is a circular shape and is over 300 metres (984 feet) across in length. How deep is the Great Blue Hole? Well.. It is an outstanding 108 metres (354 feet) in depth. When sea levels were much lower than they are now, several episodes of quaternary glaciation formed the deep Blue Hole.
Previous analysis shows that formation of stalactites found in The Great Blue Hole Belize took place 153,000; 66,000; and 15,000 years ago. The cave was flooded as the ocean began to rise once again. The Great Blue Hole is now part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System which is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
Belize also has on shore caves of similar formation to that of The big Blue Hole Belize, collapsed sinkholes, known as cenotes. Unlike these cenotes located on the mainland which are often discovered to linking to underwater cave systems, explorations have found little evidence of this kind of horizontal development inside the Belize Blue Hole.
The Discovery Channel previously ranked The Great Blue Hole as number one on “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth” back in 2012.
Now The Great Blue Hole is sitting in our Top 12 Best Dive Destinations in the World, and should be on your scuba wish lists too.
Ranked the sixth best dive site in the world (2017), The Great Blue Hole is Belize’s most famous dive location. Although Belize is also home to some other world class diving locations, there really is no other site like this one. The wide, very deep hole is outlined by coral reef and the inside Blue Hole is inhabited by sharks.
Although Great Blue Hole divers consider this dive to be a bucket list dive, you should be aware that this is not a dive for divers of all skill levels. It is recommended that a Blue Hole diver should have more than 24 dives logged. It must also be mentioned that it is not a colourful dive, rather more an eye opener to a dark cave complete with impressive stalactites.
Day trips to the Great Blue Hole can be arranged and are usually full day trips. These are organised from the coastal tourist communities in Belize. The Great Blue Hole is also accessible by different Belize airlines by aerial tours.
With warm bath like temperature water, the visibility is very good inside Great Blue Hole, ranging at about 30 metres and allows you to get a great view of a reef full of vibrant colours. Belize’s waters very rarely drop below 26. Upon descending into a deep, cool, blue hole, the water will begin to shimmer and waver as you pass the “halocline” – the invisible line which divides the salty top of the Blue Hole from its fresh water depths at about 15 metres deep.
Once submerged Blue Hole diving, enormous tuna and other pelagics can be seen to use the hole to clean themselves. Descending further into the deeps of the dark blue, 25 metres down, you will uncover the ancient caverns to explore the stalactites and stalagmites. The deepest part of the Belize Great Blue Hole lies at a depth of 124 metres deep.
Despite the Blue Hole's very deadly reputation with an estimation of 30 fatalities per year, it is also one of the most dangerous dive sites on the planet. Thus, inexperienced divers are discouraged to dive therein.
A Blue Hole dive can be a very worthy experience, but it is very important to remember the dangers of this type of dive, and also the personal duties that you have as a diver, even whilst under the supervision of an experienced Divemaster. It is advised that divers get some deep training before attempting dives at such depths.
Although the Great Blue Hole is believed to be the Earths largest reef in area, it is by far not even close to being the world’s deepest. There is a known blue hole deeper than Belize’s, believed to have been dug by Satan himself. Dean’s Blue Hole, located near to a Town called Clarence in the Bahamas, drops into a 663 foot underwater cave, which is deep enough to be able to submerge the Washington Monument or even Seattle’s Space Needle. Deep indeed! Us divers absolutely love it, the locals not so much. Not even enough to dip in a toe.
Locals actually believe that this spectacular site was created by Satan himself who dug the whole and now lurks in its depths waiting to pick out unwary swimmers who get caught in between the devils hands and the deep blue sea.
Having a reputation amongst the world of recreational divers and enthusiasts, The Blue Hole has many things to offer. Although this location is not ideal for the colourful reef lovers, clear waters and a vast variety of flora and fauna are still to be seen. Nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and bull sharks are some of the things you can meet before entering the dark depths of the Blue Hole.
Recreational divers are lured here annually to be able to dive in the crystal clear waters and have the chance to meet several species of fish, including the colourful midnight parrotfish and giant groupers.
Reports of people spotting hammerhead sharks along the reefs have been confirmed, but are unfortunately not regularly sighted.
Belize offers all year round diving. If you are not a diver, snorkelling is also offered at the Great Blue Hole, Belize, so do not let this hold you back from this phenomenal experience.
June to November is known to be a rainy season, however showers are normally short and the visibility off shore is not generally affected. The raining season can sometimes run into the month of December. The risk of large scale flooding is very low, although after major storms throughout the year small pockets of localised flooding may be possible. Windy months are known to be March, October and November.
Hurricane season normally runs from June to November in Belize. It is advised that during hurricane season, you monitor updates from the local authorities and the media sources before travelling to or around Belize.
Full day trips, Belize diving services and dive excursions can be organised. The full day trips normally consist of one dive in the Blue Hole and two additional dives in the nearby reefs.
Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – English
Currency – Belize dollars, make sure you have 35 US dollars for the departure tax.
Major Airports –
Topside Attractions – Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cayo), Xunantunich (Cayo), Caracol Mayan Ruins