The Blue Hole of Belize
The great blue hole remains one of the top attractions in Belize. It is not only a world class destination for diving but also a rich habitat for a variety of marine life like nurse sharks, reef sharks, black tip sharks and even giant groupers.
Here are ten things you probably didn't know about the great blue hole of Belize.
- 1. The great blue hole is a tremendous underwater sinkhole that is located off the coast of Belize and lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef.
- 2. The actual name of “The Great Blue Hole” was created by British diver and author Ned Middleton after having lived in Belize for 6 months. He was so impressed with this natural feature that he reasoned in his book “Ten Years Underwater” that if Australia could have ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ then Belize could equally have ‘The Great Blue Hole’ – thus setting this feature apart from similar, albeit lesser in size, structures.
- 3. The hole is circular in shape and has over 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. It is the world’s largest natural formation of its kind and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef System.
- 4. Giant stalactites, dripstone sheets, and columns can be found inside the blue hole. Scientists believe that these structures were formed in a dry cavern above sea level during glacial periods.
- 5. Analysis of stalactites found in Great Blue Hole shows that formation took place 153,000; 66,000; 60,000; and 15,000 years ago.
- 6. The French Explorer Jacques Cousteau revealed the secrets of the great Blue Hole to millions of viewers in a television series called “The Undersea World of Jaques-Cousteau”.
- 7. The Blue Hole Monument is one of the seven wonders of Belize’s World Heritage site.
- 8. In April of 2012, Bill Gates, the 2nd richest man in the world visited the Great Blue Hole with his family.
- 9. Day trips to the Great Blue Hole are full-day trips and are offered from the coastal tourist communities in Belize. The tour usually includes one dive in the Blue Hole and a dive on Half Moon Wall.
- 10. The Discovery Channel ranked the Great Blue Hole as number one on its list of “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth”.
Additional Reading on the Belize Blue Hole
Belize Blue Hole
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.