Blue Hole Natural Monument
Blue Hole Natural Monument information
At the center of Lighthouse Reef is the world-famous Blue Hole Natural Monument, an incomparable natural wonder and unique diving experience. It may not be the best dive in Belize, but it certainly ranks among the most popular. The image of the Blue Hole – a deep blue pupil with an aquamarine border surrounded by the lighter shades of the reef – has become a logo for tourist publicity and a symbol of Belize.
Deep blue in the center, the hole forms a perfect 1000ft-diameter circle on the surface. Inside, it is said to be 430ft deep, but as much as 200ft of this may now be filled with silt and other natural debris.
Divers drop quickly to 130ft, from where they swim beneath an overhang, observing stalactites above and, sometimes, a school of reef sharks below. Although the water is clear, light levels are low, so a good dive light will enable divers to appreciate the sponge and invertebrate life. Because of the depth, ascent begins after eight minutes; the brevity of the dive does disappoint some divers.
This trip is usually combined with other dives at Lighthouse Reef. Experienced divers will tell you that those other dives are the real highlight of the trip. But judging from its popularity – most dive shops make twice-weekly runs to the Blue Hole – plenty want to make the deep descent.
On day trips the Blue Hole will be your first dive, which can be nerve-racking if you're unfamiliar with the dive master and the other divers, or if you haven't been underwater lately. It may be worth doing some local dives with your dive masters before setting out cold on a Blue Hole trip. An alternative is to take an overnight trip to Lighthouse Reef.
Snorkelers can enjoy a trip to the Blue Hole, too, as there's plenty to see around the shallow inner perimeter of the circular reef. But it's an expensive trip and you'll probably have to tag along on a dive boat.
Note: this trip involves two hours each way by boat in possibly rough, open waters. Also, there's a BZ$60 marine-park fee for diving or snorkeling at the Blue Hole, that is usually on top of the dive fees.