Divers with an admiration of natural gorgeousness and unusual formations can opt to grab the opportunity to explore yet another phenomenon by diving in the Great Blue Hole dug naturally in the Lighthouse Reef. One of the most astonishing diving spots in the world, the Great Blue Hole of this reef is perfect circle of 0.4 km diameter with blue water as deep as 145 meter. It’s is not one of a kind and can be found in other parts of the world as well. However, this blue hole along the coast of Belize is the best and most exquisite among all.
The temperature of this blue water 130 feet deep is a stagnant 76F which is unchanged throughout the year. The circular walls are comprised of limestone formations and wacky stalactites. The water is unbelievably calm and not very translucent due to turquoise color and its inability to transmit light till the base. Due to this, the hole does not offer an abundant water life. There are few hammered sharks and Blacktip tigers deep down the hole. However, do not fret because they never reach the surface. While snorkeling, you will be accompanied by frenzied antennas of water shrimps, angelfishes, neon gobies, butterfly-fishes, and hanmlets.
Many tour operators thrive in this region because people from all over the world come here to dive in this hole at least once in their lifetime. These operators offer diving or snorkeling trips to the visitors. A route to the Great Blue Hole is edged by the Long Caye and the Half Moon Caye. These are the two islands of the five that comprises Lighthouse Reef. Departure time to the blue hole from either of the islands is at 7 am.
Have some coffee on the board while commencing the 2-hour journey. The initial 50 minutes expedition is through the open water which can be quite jerky but manageable. You can effortlessly spot hundreds of dolphins while commuting through the water area. After the jerky 50-minute sail, you will reach the island of Turneffe. From here, the remaining journey is quite smooth, unlike the initial route.
By 9 am you will reach the most awaited spot of the Great Blue Hole. Get into your suit and dive in the hole with your dive-master whose unmasked face will be seen again after you complete a surveying dive of 8 minutes and 130 feet. A minute after diving in, you will find yourself encircled by stalagmites and stalagtites, many of them measures over 40 feet. You will be surprised to know that each inch of stalagmite and stalagtite take more than a century to form. So, you are wandering around the formation that initiated thousands of centuries ago. Going down the hole is a pleasurable experience but make sure you face the sandstone walls while descending. After a soothing dive of over 8 minutes, your dive-master will direct you toward an incline that ends near a low coral area above 20 feet. It’s time for a short 15 minutes break. How do I know? I have been there thrice. Every tour operator offers this break because this is the time taken to commute from Great Blue Hole to Half Moon Cave.
Every inch of the walls of Half Moon Caye is plainly swathed with soft corals. Here, you will find massive gorgonians, enormous drum and tube sponges. The height of these walls (or depth of Half Moon Caye) is over 3,000 feet. However, the azure hued shallow water makes it look impossible to dive in this hole. Don’t fret if something brushes your skin once in a while, it’s an eel. However, that’s only after you are in the hole for a longer time. For few initial minutes, they hide themselves from any trespasser. I cannot be quite sure about the abundance of the marine life here, but it’s definitely rich in aquatic turtles. You will find them drifting everywhere.
Two dives with just one 15-minute break is undeniably exhausting. Get into your stylish attire and taste the luscious sea food offered at the restaurants in Half Moon Caye. Carry a wine bottle and ascend toward the observation point to witness the vivid, gorgeous birds unknown about the pleasure of diving and snorkeling in the blue holes.
Time for your third dive in a region known as ‘aquarium’ near Long Caye. Rightly named, this place is filled with variety of partly seen and mostly unseen marine life. Sail through the clefts and warrens formed by the soft corals. This is among the very rare areas of the world where you can experience the delight of swimming with a dolphin. You can enjoy the undersea panorama for 40 minutes and 50 feet. The depth is actually 3,000 feet, but your dive-master won’t allow you to enter the 51st foot.
Exhausted but jovial, you will return to the island after you have explored three blue holes in a day. Indeed, this blue hole displays countless colors to the innumerable visitors arriving here every year.