Quite possibly the most famous spot in Belize, the Great Blue Hole is a submarine sinkhole declared one of the best scuba diving places in the world by its explorer, Jacques Cousteau, and ranked number one on Discovery Channel’s “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth” list in 2012. It is located inside the Lighthouse Reef. The hole’s width measures a little over 300 meters and its deepest point is 124 meters. It was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Great Blue Hole was originally a limestone cave created over 150,000 years ago. During the end of the glacial period, the level of the water rose and the cave was flooded – creating the hole we see now. The dark blue that can be seen is formed due to the hole’s great depth in comparison to the shallow, clear blue waters of the Lighthouse Reef around it.
The ecosystem inside the hole includes coral reefs, Caribbean reef sharks, Midnight Parrotfish. Other, more dangerous sharks have been spotted inside the hole, such as bull sharks and hammerheads, but are not regularly sighted. There is also a legend that says that a big snake with red eyes was spotted in the depths of the hole, however, it was never confirmed that the story was true nor was the creature ever seen again. Aside from that, a strange, black fish was spotted and captured by a diving crew in 2011, the fish remains unidentified and it resembles a prehistoric species – this proves how much we still don’t know about the deep, blue sea and the famous sinkhole itself.
If you find yourself in Belize without a divers license but still wish to visit this natural wonder, you are more than welcome to snorkel – just head to any of the many agencies that offer tours for divers and they will let you hop in the boat alongside the divers. Tours can be quite expensive, ranging from $180 – $400 but they are full day trips that include several other stops such as Half Moon Island as well as lunch and water. Be advised that the boat ride to here lasts two hours and it gets quite bumpy! It is not a good idea to travel with young children and make sure to take some pills for seasickness if you sick easily.
Tours leave from either Caye Caulker Island or San Pedro Island. To get to either of these islands, you must take a water taxi from Chetumal in Mexico or from Belize city with Caye Caulker Water Taxi.
Once in the islands, you will easily find tour operators to book through, but make sure to spend a few days in them (don't worry, there is more than enough to do here) as they do not leave every day to the Great Blue Hole unless they get enough people!