Exploring The Great Blue Hole’s Magnificence from Above and Below
Belize, home to the magnificent Great Blue Hole, accompanied by the second largest Barrier Reef in the world, makes it a sought after diver’s paradise. Type the words “What is Belize known for” in any search engine and the first thing to pop up are images of pristine reef systems, exotic marine life, and scores of references to the famous sinkhole known as The Great Blue Hole.
A national treasure, and Belize’s most famous dive site, the Great Blue Hole is located in the center of Lighthouse Reef some 62 miles from the mainland. This marine treasure measures approximately 984 feet wide and is 410 feet deep. It is considered the world’s largest natural formation of its kind and was thus named ‘The Great Blue Hole” by British diver and author Ned Middleton. Awed by the natural wonder, he reasoned that if Australia could have ‘The Great Barrier Reef ’ then Belize could have ‘The Great Blue Hole’. The name stuck, and after a
Deemed a world heritage site by UNESCO, The Great Blue Hole has attracted avid scuba divers from all over the globe, the environmentally conscious, and many other travelers to its depths. Even though studies have concluded it was a cave system that collapsed in the last ice age, The Great Blue Hole still retains a shroud of mystery. With stalactite formations that date back 153,000 years, one has to wonder about the secrets the caverns hold.
However, the experience is somber and eerie. A brave descent, the sight of coral snug on the limestone shelving, a glimpse of silhouettes of reef sharks passing above as you slip under the cavern roofs makes the dive unimaginable. Diving the Blue Hole leaves you feeling small in comparison to the greatness of the sunken cave. As if you were a new age explorer on a mission to uncover the resting place of an ancient entity, it is a true adventure to swim within these iconic waters.
While the opportunity to dive and snorkel in crystal-clear waters and observe marine life among impressive coral formations is unprecedented, there is an alternative way to witness the grandeur of the site.
Of course, the Great Blue Hole is mesmerizing. An aerial tour of the Barrier Reef and surrounding atolls presents a new perspective of the natural beauty with which Belize is blessed. Within the comfy confines of a Maya Island Airplane, you can witness the way hues of turquoise suddenly turn into a perfect circle of deep navy blue. Where diving within the Blue Hole can make you feel small, flying above makes you feel even tinier. The tour is an hour-long, enough time to experience the wonder of Belize’s treasure. A bird’s eye view of how stunning the staggering 410-foot drop in the middle of a shallow reef system should be a priority item on any adventurer’s bucket list.
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