What is Belize's Great Blue Hole?
Why is it there? How did it occur? Should you scuba dive into it? Should you even see it?
The Great Blue Hole is a sinkhole. The hole is circular in shape, 984 feet (300 meters) across and 410 feet (125 meters) deep. It lies near Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll about 70 miles off the shore of Belize.
Analysis of stalactites found in the Great Blue Hole shows that formation took place 153,000; 66,000; 60,000; and 15,000 years ago. As the oceans began to rise, the hole was flooded, thus creating the Great Blue Hole we see today.
The Great Blue Hole is the world’s largest natural formation of its kind. It is part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Now, I am not a PADI certified scuba diver so my options for exploring The Great Blue Hole were limited. I attempted to get my scuba certification when I was at my first stop (Ambergris Caye, Belize) but due to unexpected weather creating rough waters, completing the scuba diving skills and necessary dives were out of the question the week I was there.
Although I was disappointed with not being able to do my dive cert before the Great Blue Hole, I knew I still wanted to see it in person. So, I chose to fly over it.
I talked to many people that had dived or were going to dive The Great Blue Hole, more about this later.
Once I arrived at the airport on Caye Caulker, I noticed how tiny the plane was. This was a good sign because I knew that no matter my seat, I would have a window. The plane had a max capacity of 5 passengers.
Once we took off, I was in awe of Belize's stunningly blue and clear coastline. I sat there gazing out of the window, adoringly at the eternal sea, with a larger than usual grin on my face.
Then suddenly I was worried about the clarity of the windows and the glare of the sun. I thought, "I've just paid several days of budget to do this and I'm going to get a crappy view and even worse pictures!"
Thank goodness this was not the case. The pilot was a professional, he informed us that we would be flying around the hole 3 times slowly clockwise, the 3 times slowly counterclockwise, ensuring we all got spectacular, clear and front row views! Then we flew low into and directly over it! It was such a blast to be that close to the hole.
After, we flew over Heart Shaped Island.
Flying over the Great Blue Hole was a complete thrill, and I'm so very happy that I was able to experience it up close.
As I mentioned previously, I also wanted to discuss diving it with you as I've heard mixed reviews about diving in it and I'm sure you have too.
The hole is very deep, so it is recommended for more advanced divers because new divers often use too much air too quickly. Additionally the hole is very dark, so you can't see much of anything while diving in it, especially life as there is nothing (visible) living in The Great Blue Hole.
Often, this dive is described as a bucket list dive, a dive you check off of your list. Furthermore, it's described as a dive that barely meets (let alone exceeds) expectations. This idea is sad, and disheartening because I believe that we should be making memories and creating experiences that enhance our lives, not so that we can brag to others that we've "been there, done that".
However, if you're curious about this dive, I recommend you try it for yourself. Not to check it off of a list, but to see and what it is like to be in such an iconic space, to be surrounded by the wonder of a natural sinkhole in the middle of the ocean.
Dive Information : 2 hour bumpy boat ride from Caye Caulker. Includes 2 other dives at other dive spots. Spots can vary, but they are along the Barrier Reef.
Alternatively, a friend of mine recounted his beautiful experience diving in the blue hole which I wanted to share with you.
My friend Aydin describes his experience as; "if you're falling off a cliff, but gravity is on your side. You're weightless, floating. In a sea of darkness without fear but instead the knowing of connected you are to nature."
One thing is without a doubt; Belize's Great Blue Hole is a beautiful marvel and you shouldn't miss the beautiful opportunity to view it.
Did you know there are other blue holes in Belize? Contact us to help you plan your great Belizean vacation.