Belize is a beautiful tropical country located in Central America. It is a tiny place sandwiched between Guatemala, Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in turquoise waters, ancient Mayan ruins, beaches, and rain-forests to anyone willing to make the journey. Visiting Belize has many advantages. For tourists coming from North America, it is an easy flight with minimal jet-lag.
Visitors come from far and wide to experience the delights of this place. Belize, in particular, is known for its world-class diving and snorkeling.
The Belize Barrier Reef boasts crystal clear waters and diverse oceanic wildlife. There are plenty of prime dive and snorkel sites, but none spark the imagination and sense of adventure quite like the Blue Hole, a deep underwater sinkhole in the middle of the sea.
The Blue Hole is located off the coast of Belize within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll which is also part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef system.
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Long ago the Blue Hole Belize was once a cave that flooded with rising ocean levels. The roof of the cave collapsed leaving a giant sinkhole on what is now the ocean floor.
The Blue Hole is technically not a “cenote”, as those are collapsed caves that were always underwater. The sinkhole measures approximately 1,000 feet across and 400 feet in depth. It was made famous by renowned ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. The site was so beloved by Mr. Cousteau that he declared it one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. The Blue Hole Belize has also been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Divers and snorkelers come to explore the depths and shallows of this remarkable place. On the surface, there are fish and reef sharks to observe. For the experienced divers who would like to venture further down, there are colossal underwater stalactites to see.
Getting to the Blue Hole Belize can be challenging as it is only accessible by boat and should not be considered a spontaneous endeavor. Researching and planning are key. Visiting the Blue Hole Belize is a venture that is most appealing to experienced divers as it is a giant sinkhole in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
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Snorkelers, however, are often allowed to join on the dive boats and keep to the reef surrounding the hole’s periphery. The site is located 60 miles off the coast of the mainland and is accessible by boat only. Tour boats are available to take divers and snorkelers to the site. These excursions are all-day affairs that last around twelve hours (5 am until 5 pm).
The journey to the Blue Hole can take roughly 3 hours one way, depending on sea conditions. Visitors should be prepared to pay somewhere around $200-300 USD per person when booking these voyages. As always, travelers need to be smart about where, when, and with whom to venture out to sea with. It is strongly advised to only book with companies that are licensed and reputable. Hotels or resorts that offer trips to the Blue Hole would also be considered a safe option as well. Gear rentals are widely available throughout Belize and often provided at an additional fee with many of the tours offered.
Experience level does matter when diving the Blue Hole. Please research which certifications and requirements are needed before booking.
Snorkeling, however, requires less stringent requirements as it is a less risky endeavor. Even still, travelers would be wise to make sure they are fit and proficient enough swimmers to enjoy an entire day out on the sea.
Travelers need to check with the guide company to see what items are provided with the tour in terms of gear, food, water, and towels. Be prepared to bring personal items such as reef-safe sunscreen, rash guards, sunglasses, hats, and cameras. Bring waterproofing materials for smartphones for snorkeling or an underwater camera for deeper dives to ensure that the experience is documented. If the day is to be spent snorkeling then lanyards and floats for these electronic devices are a great way to be sure that nothing is lost to the depths of the Blue Hole.
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If snorkeling or diving is not high on the visitor’s priority list, then there is one way to see the Blue Hole without getting wet… chartering a plane or helicopter to see this magnificent site from above.
The aerial views of the site are all but iconic to Belize. From the air, passengers can see the full view of the dark blue circle surrounded by the bright turquoise water in all its glory. Weather permitting small aircraft are available for hire and fly out of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Belize City, and Placencia. The trip is typically one hour and the flight covers several sites along the reef including the infamous Blue Hole. Flight schedules vary and depend on the location. The cost is around $350 USD per passenger. Helicopter tours are generally private and the company will provide quotes on a case by case basis. As with booking any excursion, please do due diligence and make sure that the airline is properly licensed and regulated.
If visiting the Blue Hole Belize is high on the list, then it is well worth the effort to strike that item off the bucket list. The country is very tourist-friendly and makes adventures of this type easily accessible to those who want them.
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Whether from the sky or the water seeing the Blue Hole Belize is truly a one of a kind, world-class experience. Joining the ranks of Jacques Cousteau in exploring this place is an experience few share. As with anything truly worth seeing there is some effort involved in making it happen. Travelers should be sure to plan ahead and thoroughly research how and when to see this amazing location. Be sure to check to make sure the tour company is reputable and licensed.
Belize is a wonderful country to visit. The relaxed tropical vibe and lovely beaches make this destination an appealing one. Visitors will not be disappointed with all that this country has to offer.
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