Skip to Content

Belize’s Stunning Great Blue Hole is Life-Changing

Belize’s Stunning Great Blue Hole is Life-Changing

The Belize Blue Hole is a massive sinkhole in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of a kind physical feature that attracts local and international tourists who come to look at this breathtaking phenomenon.

Both researchers and visitors have not even begun to comprehend what this giant, blue water-filled hole is all about, what lead to its formation, or why it’s still there. This deep blue hole imaginable is seemingly mysterious!

One thing for sure is that the Belize Blue Hole is a major tourist destination for its unearthly beauty. It is also a top spot for experienced divers who want to test their skills to the limit and people who explore the geological formations and marine life of the Great Blue Hole.

Let us give you an insight into what this stunning natural formation is and what to expect when you visit.

Quick Facts About the Belize Blue Hole

The Great Blue Hole in Belize
Photo: wstera2

The Belize Blue Hole is one of a kind. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, about 62 miles from the mainland of Belize. The Great Blue Hole is a near-perfectly round hole near the center of the Lighthouse Reef atoll.

The name, Great Blue Hole, came from its clear blue waters and was publicized by a British diver, Ned Maddleton, famous for his book, Ten Years Underwater.

The Belize Blue Hole is a sea hole. That means it is a submerged cave filled with rising water levels. Like all other similar caves, the Belize Blue Hole was formed during the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago.

The Great Blue Hole is the world’s largest known sea hole. Its diameter is 984 feet and is 419 feet deep. Even experienced divers have a really hard time of reaching the bottom, and at least two divers are known to have died attempting it.

In December 2018, two small submarines attempted to map the hole’s interior and bottom. They found at approximately 300 feet the water was without any oxygen and completely pitch black. They also discovered the bodies of two divers at the very bottom.

The Belize Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is part of a vast barrier reef, the second-largest barrier reef after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Blue Hole offers one of the best diving spots for seasoned divers.

See Related: Best Dutch Caribbean Islands to Visit

Detailed Information About the Great Blue Hole

We can say a lot about this Blue Hole in Belize. There are mysteries about its formation, marine life, geological structure, and activities people engage in when they visit. Let’s get into the details.

Formation of the Belize Blue Hole

Belize Blue Hole Aerial View

The present-day Belize Blue Hole was once dry land. It was formed at the end of the last ice age when the sea waters rose from 400 feet to 500 feet, about 15,000 years ago.

It all started as a limestone cave system during the last glacial period. The end of the ice age caused a continuous rise in water levels that flooded the caves.

And as a result of dissolving limestone, the roof collapsed. At the end of that long process, a nearly perfect circle with a pupil-like appearance formed. This is the present-day Belize Blue Hole in Belize.

The Belize Blue Hole is the world’s largest feature of its kind. It is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Geological Formations of Belize Blue Hole

Belize Blue Hole  Cave Formations

The now Belize Blue Hole was initially part of an on-shore cave system before the ocean began to rise after the last glacial period. The rising sea levels flooded the caves, creating underwater caverns that can only be explored by experienced divers.

The Great Blue Hole is one of the most famous diving spots for its geological formations. Its popular underwater structures include stalactites and stalagmites. These were formed during the last great ice age before the cave was flooded by water.

Some stalactites and stalagmites are up to 40 feet long. These are some of the unique scenes that divers can enjoy below the surface.

More experienced divers can even proceed deeper to discover bedrock ledges and underwater dunes. Deeper down the hole, divers find a limestone shelf.

No one has ever explored the entire depths of the Belize Blue Hole. That is because it gets darker as you go down. Many people believe it is full of silt that has accumulated over the years, but the truth is, no one knows what is exactly there for sure.

If you explore the deeper depths of Belize Blue Hole for more geological formations, remember to carry a torch or two. That will help you navigate through the extensive cave systems of one of the most amazing places on earth.

See Related: Best Girls Trip Destinations

Marine Life in the Great Blue Hole

Corals of the Great Blue Hole in Belize
Photo: jayhem

It is not easy to discover the true marine life in this deep Blue Hole beyond the coral growth. Only experienced divers and special submarines can explore the deep waters of this hole. Nevertheless, the Great Blue Hole is still a top wonder of nature.

Over 500 species of fish and more than 106 coral species call it home. Many other unique creatures call the Great Blue Hole home.

Elkhorn and Brain Corals are the most common in the shallower portions. But as you go deeper, you will uncover a new world of marine life.

The Great Blue Hole is also home to Pederson’s shrimp, neon gobies, angelfish, groupers, and purple sea fans. You will also meet different shark species, including bull sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, black tip sharks, hammerhead sharks, and nurse sharks.

Other animals in the hole include neon gobies, angelfish, giant groupers, and purple sea fans.

The Great Blue Hole shows it is a rich habitat, given the different animal species that live in it.  

See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples

Diving Activities in the Great Blue Hole

Group of Divers

The Great Blue Hole is a favorite spot for scuba diving because of its stunning blue waters and depth. But you can also visit it to marvel at the panoramic view of the site. Its aerial pupil-like shape and remarkable coral reefs are all worth your time.

This one of the world’s largest natural formations attracts divers from all over the world. You cannot talk about diving without thinking about the Great Blue Hole. It is a world-class destination for recreational scuba divers. However, it is only for skilled divers.

Scuba diving operators offer the best way to explore the Belize Blue Hole. You can easily judge that it is an easy task to get through from the surface.

Unknown to many novice divers is the extensive cave system submerged under the water. Navigating these geological features demands skills and experience that a newbie cannot showcase.

Only scuba divers who have logged 24 dives or more can go in. And even the experienced ones do not go beyond 135 meters deep. That’s because it gets darker and darker as you go deeper. There is also a fear of Caribbean reef shark attacks and disturbing other sea life.

Freediving at the Belize Blue Hole

Diver on a Dive

The Great Blue Hole also attracts freedivers for its bottomless depth. Unlike scuba diving, freediving entails descending or swimming in the deep waters without a breathing apparatus. It is an incredible experience for skilled divers who come to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Freediving offers therapeutic and enjoyable benefits. However, it requires training and experience to be able to hold your breath underwater for long.

And as mentioned, the Great Blue Hole is not where you can perfect your skills. Try them out at shallow pools and reefs before going there to discover the undersea world at Belize Blue Hole.

See Related: Best Tropical Vacation Spots in the World

The Lighthouse Reef

Coral Reef

According to the Discovery Channel, the Belize Hole is the most amazing place on earth. The Discovery Channel ranked it the first for the breathtaking features this place offers visitors.

Well, it’s hard to argue with them!

Experienced scuba divers get to explore the Great Blue Hole better than novices, free divers, and snorkelers. They get to explore the geological formations and admire the marine life in the Great Blue Hole. However, you also never fall short of panoramic views to wow you, no matter your ability. You don’t have to get yourself wet to marvel at this natural wonder of the world.

The Belize Blue Hole is located on the Lighthouse Reef in the Caribbean Sea. Its entire circumference is covered by colorful coral reefs. The limestone-covered ridges provide ideal conditions that allow coral reefs to thrive.

As stated earlier, the sea level started to rise after the last ice age. It aided in the growth of coral that covered the outer waters and shallow depths inside the lagoon. That phenomenon created a unique coral reef appearance that attracted scientists and tourists globally.

Another reason to visit the Blue Hole is its deep blue waters and pupil-like shape. Using a drone camera or flying in a helicopter can allow you to capture the best aerial views of this hole that was once an enormous cavern. Skydivers also catch a better view of the blue water and surrounding coral reef walls.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

The Inland Blue Hole

Inland Blue Hole and Plants

The Great Blue Hole is not the only natural marvel in this area. Most visitors also go to the “other Blue Hole” after their day trips to the Belize Blue Hole.

The Inland Blue Hole is located about 12 miles south of the City of Belmopan. It is an inland water hole on the Hummingbird Highways, making it more accessible than the Great Blue Hole.

This Inland Blue Hole is on the St. Herman’s Cave System under the national park administration. It is also one of the tourist’s favorite spots for its cool freshwater pools. A parking facility is also available on sight.

Once you get to the hole, you use stairs to descend 30 feet down to the water.

The Inland Blue Hole is also a sinkhole formed after the underground river channel collapsed. The cool turquoise water is replenished by the Cave’s Branch River. The pool of water remains clear and cold all year round, thanks to the dense forest around it.

Planning a Trip to the Belize Blue Hole

Proper planning for your trip is the best way to enjoy a visit to the world’s famous Blue Hole. Pick the right time and arrange your visit in advance.

Most tourists to this region take flights to Cancun and connect with another flight to Belize City. Once in Belize, you can take a bus to Ambergris Caye or another connecting flight. This island is often crowded with international tourists. So, you will have to make hotel reservations in advance.

You can plan to visit the Blue Belize Hole the following morning to have the best experience. Ask the hotel staff to help you reserve a speedboat to take you to the actual place. You may also need experts to guide you to minimize the chances of accidents.

The return journey is just the reverse of the previous steps. You should have your speedboat ready to pick you up and take you back to San Pedro Town.

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

Accommodation Services Near the Great Blue Hole

Most tourists to Belize Blue Hole are accommodated at San Pedro, the only town on the palm-frocked island of Ambergris Caye. You can find hotels and resorts with comfortable rooms and excellent services where you can relax after a long trip to and from the sinkhole.

Search for the most comfortable and budget hotels online at Kayak or Booking.com to make your reservations. You have many options to choose from, but we recommend the following hotels:

FAQ

How long does it take to get to the Belize Blue Hole?

The trip to the Belize Blue Hole usually begins from Ambergris and takes 3 hours. You can also start your journey from Plascencia in Southern Belize, but you will take an hour more. Also, prepare for a rough boat ride to the site.

Is it worth it to snorkel the Blue Hole Belize?

Yes. Belize Blue Hole offers a large area for snorkeling. It may not give you the best fun, but it is ideal if you make it part of your day trip to other amazing places to visit in Belize.

Can you swim in the Great Blue Hole in Belize?

Yes. You can swim in the shallow waters of the Belize Blue hole as you admire the coral reefs around its perimeter. However, diving is only reserved for skilled divers. Just stick to the shallow edges if you are inexperienced.

Are there sharks in the Blue Hole?

Yes. The Belize Blue Hole is home to different sea creatures, including sharks. These include the Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks, and hammerheads. Many non-swimmers who visit the hole go there to admire its biodiversity.

How deep do you dive into the Blue Hole?

Open water divers go up to 70 feet deep, and experienced divers with certificates can extend to 130 feet below the water surface. The Belize Blue Hole has complex geological formations that are not easy to navigate through. It also gets darker as you dive deeper.

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!