What is it Like to Dive the Great Blue Hole of Belize? Glad You Asked!
In a word: It’s thrilling–even for experienced divers who have set about conquering the planet’s most challenging dives and come up proclaiming that they’ve “never seen anything like” the underwater world that captured their imaginations off the coast of Belize. Since the Great Blue Hole offers a diving experience that can’t be found elsewhere, we’ve borrowed the thoughts of divers who know a thing or two about life-changing experiences to explain what you can expect if you prioritize this dive next time you visit Belize.
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It’s heart-thrilling deep. You lower yourself into the circumference of the impressive circle that forms the ocean-top’s parameters and travel around 475 feet down into an expanse that was created by the geological movements of the earth’s crust. At its deepest, find yourself in what was once a series of caves that collapsed repeatedly to shape this conical aquatic phenomenon that differs from surrounding sea shelves because they are only around 390 feet deep. Your experience feels like you are plunging into a bottomless pit—but an awesome one.
It’s wildly mysterious. Divers familiar with the Great Blue Hole often say that they became fascinated with the architecture that forms and reforms as the center of the earth cools and rocks shift into unique shapes, thereby delivering an other-worldly experience for even the most jaded of divers. Encounter Pleistocene stalactites, stalagmites and columns at a depth of around 110 feet. These projectiles dangle from massive shelves that are contoured in such a way one can burrow beneath them to find even more mysterious surfaces and shapes. There are passageways and coral-lined walls plus protrusions that can lead a diver to question his vision—but that’s part of the experience. The influence of nitrogen on the body at these depths can distort things just enough to add some magic to the moment.
It’s blue—but not just one shade of blue. Turquoise blends into aquamarine that morphs into cobalt and navy, which is why your desire to experience marine life must be satisfied as near to the surface as possible. The darker it gets, the less marine life you’ll encounter. Trying to identify the range of blue hues you see can keep you busy as you descend into this natural Belize attraction gradually—darkening blues can give you an indication of the rate at which you are descending. As it gets darker and deeper, your ability to differentiate sea creatures that dare to plummet to such far depths makes it more likely you’ll encounter discarded turtle shells than a bounty of colorful fish who know enough to stay at the top of the hole.
It’s alive near the surface. Adjust your vision to each stage of your dive and identify a wonderland of shapes, life forms and creatures that would do any science fiction illustrator proud. Spot shrimp clinging to anemones, oddly-shaped neon fish that glow against the blue water as they swim among butterfly fish, groupers and angelfish. Purple sea fans move to the ocean rhythmic sway, but with the right camera, you’ll be able to capture the moving sea life and even create your own special effects by allowing the water to mirror creatures and plants as they swim by. Experienced divers swear that they get the best pictures at a depth of around 6-feet because there’s so much light attracting marine life at that point, so follow their lead.
It requires company. Diving with a buddy and sharing unique experiences is the essence of fun when exploring the Great Blue Hole. Not only will you stay safer and more confident as you descend into the aquamarine world of geologic outlines and indigenous life forms, but you can both point out photo opportunities to each other that could be illusive if you’re more focused on reaching the bottom than tracking what surrounds you. It’s particularly important to tackle this dive, if it’s your first, with an experienced person so you can relax completely and let the water and mood wash over you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself gesturing wildly in the direction of your diving companion as you seek to interpret the beauty and wonder around you.
It’s deeply moving. There’s a reason Jacques Cousteau targeted the Blue Hole back in 1972 and brought this diving site to the attention of the world. It’s just that unique. While there are lots of wild rumors surrounding the Cousteau visit when his ship Calypso’s dropped anchor and explored the depths, these stories are just so much local folklore, but since they don’t cost you a cent, do ask about them since they can be outrageous or highly entertaining at the very least. Your job is to make your own memories using stories passed along by other Great Blue Hole divers throughout Belize so you understand that while you encounter fewer life forms the deeper you dive, it’s the surroundings that are described by many as a “religious experience,” because you are visiting a world that has remained unchanged for thousands upon thousands of years.
It’s history. Strangely, the Great Blue Hole doesn’t appear on admiralty charts, so it takes an experienced dive master to pinpoint the opening in the reef. For divers who thought they knew better, the Blue Hole became their watery resting place, despite the fact that it’s a fairly straightforward dive as long as you know what you’re doing. Ever since the Canadian Film Board produced a documentary in the mid-1960s, marine biologists, photographers, archaeologists and anyone seeking a one-of-a-kind experience has come to the realization that it’s not the marine life that makes the Blue Hole awesome; it’s the fact that the hole takes anyone seeking the mysteries of the cave into the barrier reef to experience a world that was once home to our ancestors around 11,000 years ago. As the sea continues to reclaim the Barrier Reef, more could be lost to history, including the hole itself. What’s it like to dive the Great Blue Hole?
Don’t you owe it to yourself to find out before it’s too late?