If you’re planning a trip to Belize, it’s very likely that one of the things on your “must do” list is an excursion out to the Blue Hole.
The great Blue Hole is Belize’s most famous natural wonders and certainly its most photographed. Ever since it was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in 1971, divers have been coming to Belize to experience what is now a World Heritage site and one of Belize’s seven natural wonders. It’s even visible from space.
But what exactly is it?
The Blue Hole is a giant sinkhole. It’s circular in shape measuring 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. It was formed beginning153,000 years ago during several episodes of quaternary glaciation. During this time the sea levels were much lower. As the ocean began to rise the cave was flooded and the sinkhole was created.
The Blue Hole is part of the Belize Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Blue Hole itself lies off the coast near the center of Lighthouse Reef – a small atoll located 43 miles from Belize City. It’s the world’s largest natural formation of its kind.
A great many divers come to the Blue Hole, not because it’s known as one of the world’s most spectacular dives, but because it’s one of those areas that breeds bragging rights as something cool to strike off the bucket list. If it’s something you’re thinking of doing, you should know that it’s not a colorful dive. Generally, a dive in the Blue Hole is the experience of going into a dark cave with the occasional view of stalactites.
Many websites will also warn you that it’s also not a good dive to consider unless you’re a more seasoned diver. The ascent can be disorienting, and this is where more training and dives under your belt can help you to have a better experience.
If you’re still game for conquering this wonder, there are many tour companies that have day trips that include not only a dive in the Blue Hole, but also a few dives in nearby reefs. Tour companies leave early in the morning and go all day, but if you have the stamina, you’ll have also earned those sought after bragging rights.
Brett Renee Stone is a managing partner and director of communications for Palm Reef Resort.