Among the most visually striking attractions in Belize is the Great Blue Hole. This enormous submarine sinkhole is located in the middle of the ocean, just off the coast of Belize. Its unique features have made it a world-class destination for scuba divers from around the world. Unsurprisingly, it has been named by Jacques Cousteau and numerous publications as one of the top diving sites in the world. Below, we’ll tell you more about this oceanic wonder of the world, along with tips on how to visit it during your trip to Belize.
Be aware that this Great Blue Hole at sea is quite different from the Blue Hole National Park located on mainland Belize.
What is the Great Blue Hole?
The Great Blue Hole is an underwater sinkhole off the coast of mainland Belize. It is unique for a couple of reasons:
- It is the largest natural formation of its kind.
- The Great Blue Hole is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This circular blue hole is 300 meters (948 feet) across and 124 meters (407 feet deep). Surrounding the hole are the Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef Atolls.
Research of the stalactites found inside of the hole date back to over 20,000 years ago. The presence of dead coral skeletons, marine fossils, and limestone boulders at the bottom of the hole suggest that it was once dry land many many years ago before the ocean flooded it. Explorer Jacques Cousteau made the site famous among divers and visitors, although the name “Great Blue Hole” was actually created by British diver Ned Middleton.
Today, the Great Blue Hole continues to be a huge attraction for divers and visitors thanks to coverage from large outlets including Discovery Channel, who named the site as number one on the list of “10 Most Amazing Places on Earth.”
Scuba divers and snorkelers love the Great Blue Hole for its crystal clear waters and myriad of sea creatures. Some marine animals that live here include giant groupers, Caribbean reef sharks, Blacktip sharks, nurse sharks, and tropical fish. There are two ways to experience the grandeur of the Great Blue Hole:
Take a full day trip to Great Blue Hole, traveling 71 miles (about 2 hours one way) from Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) all the way to the Blue Hole in the sea. Upon arrival, guided scuba and snorkeling trips take place.
Scenic flights over the Great Blue Hole are also available in small 3-5 seater airplanes. The flights take off from either Caye Caulker, San Pedro, or Belize City, and last approximately 90-120 minutes. This is the best way to experience the full size and scale of the site from an aerial perspective.