More than 10,000 years ago, the rising waters at the end of the last great Ice Age led to a series of enormous caverns being engulfed by the Caribbean Sea. Geological forces created what is now known as the Belize Blue Hole, a nearly perfectly circular expanse of sapphire water measuring 300 meters (980 feet) across and 125 meters (410 feet) deep. The Belize Blue Hole lies in the center of an offshore atoll called Lighthouse Reef, an island of coral 60 miles from Belize City.
Legendary marine biologist and documentarian Jacques Cousteau explored the Belize Blue Hole in the 1970s and declared it to be one of the top ten best dive spots on the planet. The Belize Blue Hole attracts divers from around the world due to the amazing experience of exploring enormous underwater stalactites and stalagmites (some measuring up to 12 meters or 40 feet in length) and otherworldly beautiful passages in its depth.
Interestingly, the geological formations on display change as divers head deeper into the Belize Blue Hole. Less of a “color” dive than a chance to explore unique geological formations, the Belize Blue Hole is also home to some strange denizens, including the occasional blacktip tiger, bull, or hammerhead shark, Pederson’s shrimp, neon gobies, angelfish, groupers, and purple seafans. A profusion of different coral types thrive in the shallower portions of the Belize Blue Hole, including elkhorn and brain corals.
Experienced divers will find plenty to engage them in the Belize Blue Hole. Starting at the surface, divers enter a steeply walled entrance to about 110 feet where the first stalactite formations can be seen. From there, divers can explore overhangs or negotiate around gigantic stalagmites while still enjoying good visibility down to around 200 feet. Further deep, the reduced light levels add a gothic atmosphere, but experienced divers can make their way down to around 270 feet (82 meters) to explore underwater dunes and bedrock ledges.
The Belize Blue Hole is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.