What to Expect When Diving the Great Blue Hole of Belize (and other useful tips!)
Diving the Great Blue Hole of Belize is not to be missed if you ever find yourself in Caye Caulker. It’s mysterious, eerie, and a unique experience that you’ll never forget.
What is the Giant Blue Hole?
The Giant Blue Hole also referred to as the Blue Hole, is just like it sounds. It’s a massive circular sinkhole off the coast of Belize that goes as deep as 125 meters (400 feet) and nearly as wide as 300 meters (almost 1,000 ft!).
How Do I Get There?
There are four ways to sign up for the Blue Hole depending on where you decide to stay but I’d recommend one of two places:
- Caye Caulker: there are a handful of diving services to choose from, but I decided to go with Belize Diving Services (referred to as BDS in Caye Caulker). This was my deepest dive yet at 40 meters and I didn’t know what to expect. BDS is the only PADI 5 Star rated operator on the island. Albeit, I did meet some of the divemasters for Frenchie’s afterward and they seem more qualified with thousands of dives under their belt – and after hearing about some of their stories (without guests) diving as deep as 100 meters! They were very planned technical dives with several stops and safety tanks along the way, so I wouldn’t suggest doing this on your own.
- Ambergris Caye: I haven’t been here, but it’s another popular choice I heard from other divers. Once you determine which dive operator to book your tour through, it’ll likely be around 3-hour boat ride to the blue hole similar to Caye Caulker.
What to Expect When Diving the Blue Hole?
Diving the Blue Hole will vary based on your level of experience and dive certification. Some divers were only allowed to dive down to 24 meters (80 feet) where my group was allowed to dive down to 40 meters (132 feet).
If you’re a bit more advanced, the dive will start off with a sloping white sandy bottom that leads into the dark abyss: the Blue Hole. You’ll then descend at a slant to 40 meters, long enough to see the stalactites for a few minutes, and then slowly make your way back up and out of the hole. In total, our dive and many Blue Hole dives are only allowed up to 35 minutes.
The weather and diving conditions can also greatly impact the dive. There will be some Blue Hole dives where you may not be able to see any more than a few feet in front of you where on other dives you may have excellent visibility. Some dives where the hole is bright and blue and other dives (like mine) where the dive was dark and black.
We had heavy showers the morning of our dive, including during the dive, so my experience was similar to a night dive. It would have been a very disorienting feeling had there not been someone with a dive light or torch. I would have easily dropped deeper than the allowed maximum 40 meters, but I kept a constant eye on my dive computer. We could also hear the showers above which was pretty neat.
You should also expect to see a lot of other divers. This is one of the world’s great wonders and many want to experience this bucket list item just like you.
Other Useful Tips:
- Have low expectations: you won’t find an abundance of reef fish and marine life unless you’re one of the lucky ones to have hammerheads passing through. You’re also not going to find vibrant and colorful coral. Keep your expectations low and then be pleasantly surprised by what you might find.
- Plan for a few extra time: dive operators don’t visit the Blue Hole every day, but you’ll often find one dive shop that goes on scheduled days of the week that other dive shops don’t. You can find almost every day of the week to go, but the Blue Hole dives sometimes get canceled due to weather. Because a single dive operator doesn’t go every day, you’ll want to allow yourself at least a couple of days after that to reschedule your dive. If you’re flying after the trip, make sure you factor in another 12-24 hours to fly.
- Put aside $325 USD for the dive: $229 for 3 dives (1 Great Blue Hole, 2 other prettier reef dives), $40 park dive, and $55 gear rental.
- Don’t forget to tip your guides: your dive guides are up even earlier than you are, and that 5:15 am show time is brutal! They are handling all the logistics ensuring a safe trip, changing your tanks between dives, and making sure you don’t get hangry on the trip. They also aren’t paid well and rely on tips just like many other service industries. I’d recommend putting aside at least $10 per tank or 10-20% of the total bill.
I wish I had some photos and videos for you, but I lost my GoPro card somewhere here in Belize. So you’ll just have to take my word for it while I insert a sad face here. 🙁