Although it has been known to the ancient Maya for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the arrival of the Calypso and the French marine biologist Jacques Cousteau in 1971 that the outside world learned of the Belize Blue Hole. Cousteau, in fact, was so enamored by the unique dive experience of the Belize Blue Hole that he rated it as one of his top 10 favorite locations in the world.
Before you consider diving the Belize Blue Hole, here are a few facts:
The Belize Blue Hole is located in the center of Lighthouse Reef, approximately 62 miles (100km) offshore of Belize City.
The deep intense blue color of the Belize Blue Hole is entirely natural.
The Belize Blue Hole is nearly perfectly circular in shape, measuring 984 feet (300 meters) across and approximately 410 feet (125 meters) deep.
The Belize Blue Hole is actually a collapsed cave system that was covered by rising waters at the end of the last Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago.
Due to the complexity of diving the Belize Blue Hole, only experienced divers are allowed to dive the site.
The Belize Blue Hole is considered a “dark” dive, appreciated more for its gothic beauty than abundance of colorful marine flora and fauna.
Now that you know the facts, what is it actually like to dive the Belize Blue Hole?
Rick Frehsee, the diver who first popularized the name of the Belize Blue Hole, described it thusly: “Lighthouse Reef is a distinct anomaly in the Caribbean. Nothing else in the entire western hemisphere resembles a true coral atoll, and geologists believe that its formation closely mirrors that of coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean.”
Divers enter the Belize Blue Hole by descending to around 40 feet (12 meters) to reach a natural limestone shelf. The limestone is covered with coral to a depth of around 18 feet (six meters) where it changes into a sandy incline. From there, divers can see nothing below them except for inky darkness.
Around a depth of 60 feet (18 meters), vague shapes start to appear. It is not uncommon to encounter curious Caribbean Reef Sharks at this depth. But it isn’t until divers reach a depth of 100 feet (30 meters) that stalactites become visible. From there, divers can explore the vast labyrinth of what was once an aboveground cavern.
Divers report that there is something spiritual about the silent majesty of navigating stone passageways and enormous stalactites that make the Belize Blue Hole a worthwhile experience.