Belize’s Cayo District is filled with lots of forested parks include St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, located just off of Hummingbird Highway. Spanning over 500 acres, the Blue Hole park contains two large cave systems (Crystal and St. Hermans), as well as a clear blue jungle pool and copious amounts of hiking trails. Managed by the Belize Audubon Society, the park is home to over 200 species of native Belizean birds.
Be aware that the Blue Hole National Park is not the same as the Great Blue Hole, the largest sinkhole in the world, which is located in the Caribbean Sea.
Managed by the Belize Audubon Society, the park is home to over 200 species of native Belizean birds including the unusual exotic species of slaty antwren, piratic flycatcher, red-legged honeycreeper, tody motmot, and northern nightingale wren. A few types of exotic cats have also been spotted at the park including the ocelot, jaguar, and jaguarundi. The park’s history dates back to the 1960’s when the Belize government first took over the land and had it declared a national park in November 1986.
The most popular ways to enjoy leisure time at the Blue Hole national park is to either go on a hike on one of the park’s many trails or swim and float in the cool, blue water of the park’s cenote. Measuring 100 feet deep and 300 feet in diameter, the cenote was formed by the collapse of an underground limestone cave. Today, visitors and locals alike come to swim the cenote’s refreshing water.
St. Herman’s Cave
For visitors looking to do a self-guided hike and caving experience, St. Herman’s Cave is an approachable activity. Once used by the Maya for rituals during the Classic Period, researchers found remnants of pottery vessels, spears, and torches in this cave. Today, St. Herman’s Cave is a concrete path running about 1 mile (1.6 km) underground, and it can be easily traversed by able-bodied visitors. Do remember to bring a flashlight with spare batteries, wear proper hiking shoes, and mind your footing as the ground can be wet and slippery. St. Herman’s Cave is two miles away from the blue hole cenote.
For the adventurous, there are spelunking adventures in the park’s Crystal Cave (also known as Mountain Cow Cave). It was once believed to have been a site where Mayan shamans once performed sacred rituals. Many local tour companies offer guided tours of the spectacular caving system that is full of crystalline formations. The Crystal Cave experience is not for the faint of heart as it involves a thrilling 15-foot drop into the mouth of the cave.
Actun Loch Tunich Black Hole Drop
For SUPER extreme adventurists, there is the “mother of all caves” option, also known as Actun Loch Tunich. Also located in the Blue Hole National Park, this is the most extreme caving experience. The tour includes a 90-minute hike in, and a 400-foot drop into an ancient sinkhole, followed by a climb out.
Blue Hole National Park is located 12 miles southeast of Belmopan on the right side of the Hummingbird Highway. There are two entrances, both with parking. The St. Herman’s Cave entrance includes a picnic area, gift shop, trail heads, and official visitor’s center. The second entrance only contains a picnic area, but it has a more direct route to the blue hole cenote. There are several ways to get to the park: drive yourself, catch a taxi, or take a bus that travels on the Hummingbird Highway.