Belize's location on the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef on earth, makes it a superb place to go diving or snorkelling. The waters are teeming with marine life, like nurse sharks, turtles, manatees, and rays, and there’s one natural wonder in Belize that can’t be missed while visiting the island.
The Great Blue Hole has been captivating visitors for generations, Jacques Cousteau made the Great Blue Hole famous in 1971 when he named it one of the world's best diving sites. With the capacity to easily fit two Boeing 747s, the sheer size and unreachable depths add to the mystery of this deep, dark marine sinkhole.
The Great Blue Hole is the world’s largest natural formation of its kind at over 300 metres across and 125 metres deep. But it’s quite a distance from land at over 100 kilometres from Belize City. So getting there can be a touch arduous as well as expensive.
You may be wondering if it’s really worth it? Well, that really depends on you. Here we look at the pros and cons of taking a trip to the Great Blue Hole from Caye Caulker.
There are two ways to see the Blue Hole from Caye Caulker; by sea or by air. By plane is the only way to see the optical perfection of the Blue Hole, as well as the iconic atolls, and the intricate reef systems of the Belize Barrier Reef.
Tsunami Adventures offers a short 45-minute scenic flight for US$225 a person. The views are out of this world and it truly feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, particularly for anyone with a love of photography.
If you are a diver, the boat trip to the Great Blue Hole is probably of more interest. It is known as one of the top diving sites in the world after all - but it’s only really worth it for Advanced divers with over 30 dives under their belt. That said, there are other factors to take into consideration when choosing the best way to see the Great Blue Hole.
Boat trips from Caye Caulker to the Blue Hole take 2.5 to 3 hours and cost around US$300, and snorkellers can hop on the trips for a slightly lower cost too. Trips can be found from almost anywhere on the island but take care in choosing a reputable company that has sustainable practices.
Frenchie's Diving Services are one of the biggest operators on the island with modern equipment, experienced divemasters and a green ethos. The smaller dive shop Scuba Sensation also has great reviews.
It is essentially a collapsed sea cave - there are the usual culprits in the shallows like groupers, reef fish and shrimp, but you can’t really make out the overall shape of the Blue Hole from the water level.
There’s no large marine life (like there would be on a reef wall or open water) as it’s surrounded by shallow corals, but you might spot a variety of sharks that have strayed into the hole during high tide.
The conditions inside are a few degrees cooler than the surrounding waters and you will need a dive torch to see the cave walls. There are great stalactites and swim-throughs but note that these are well below the 18-metre dive limit for Open Water divers. Reaching these depths comes with added dangers that shouldn’t be taken on by inexperienced divers. The hole can disorientate even seasoned divers, and dive plans must be adhered to.
If you’re an Advanced diver or above, the trip to the Blue Hole is totally worth doing, but for Open Water divers and snorkellers, it would only really be worth it for the bragging rights! You won’t see any of the natural structures that make this dive interesting, so if it’s a choice between the boat and the flight, the latter will definitely give you more bang for your buck.
While there isn’t much to see in the way of life inside the Blue Hole itself, boat trips from Caye Caulker will include two other shallow dives on the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The second and third dives are pure coral dives at Lighthouse Reef and Half Moon Caye, which are probably some of the best dive sites in Belize to see a diversity of marine life.
When you take the extra dives, the provided food, and a knowledgeable guide into account, the Blue Hole boat trips are definitely worth the time and cost. The mystery, wonder and uniqueness of the Great Blue Hole make it one of the best dives on the planet, but a short scenic flight is also a great way to see the wonder from above.
In short, do both and regret nothing!
Last Updated 16 February 2023