The Blue Hole
For serious scuba divers, the Blue Hole in Belize is a mecca. Jacques Cousteau famously said it’s one of the four must-dive locations on the planet. There are actually a few “blue holes” off Belize, but the huge one called “The Blue Hole” or sometimes “The Big Blue Hole” or “The Great Blue Hole” is unlike any other in the world.
Located in the center of Lighthouse Reef, the Blue Hole is about 60 miles off Belize City. Formed millions of years ago during the last ice age as a dry cave system, it filled with ocean when sea levels rose again, and the roof of the structure collapsed. What’s left is an almost perfectly circular hole that is over 1,000 feet across and over 400 feet deep. The interior is filled with stalactites and stalagmites and is home to several varieties of large sharks. The trip leaders always ask the divers if they vote to encounter the sharks, and they always say yes, so be prepared. A bit of chumming brings them to you in a hurry.
Not for beginners
As great as it may sound though, diving the Blue Hole is not for beginners or even some intermediate divers. Some visitors call this a religious experience, but unfortunately it’s not open to everyone. If you have any doubts you should talk to the dive masters or the people in the dive shops to discuss your personal situation. This is obviously a very well known spot so they’ll be able to honestly tell you whether you should be trying it or not.
Where to book a dive trip
There are diving shops and expedition operators all up and down both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, and all of them promote their Blue Hole dive heavily. Most of the tours leave early in the morning and take all day. The prices tend to be similar at each place, but the experience you’ll have might not be, so it’s recommended to shop around and find an outfit you feel comfortable with. The dive is so popular that you can just ask other visitors hanging out in bars and restaurants and you’ll soon find someone who’s just gone and can give you their recommendation.
The Blue Hole is also an easy reach from diving operators in Belize City itself. If your main reason for coming to Belize is to visit the Blue Hole and maybe a few other major spots and then leave, staying in Belize City might be worth the convenience. But if you want to get a feeling for what makes Belize such a charming and desirable vacation spot you’d be advised to stay on either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, since Belize City isn’t really all that nice. Ambergris Caye is much larger and has more hotels and guesthouses that cater to upscale visitors and families, while Caye Caulker is a bit closer and is where you’ll find more budget travelers, hippies, and the backpacking set in general.