Snorkeling Belize’s Blue Hole: This Trip is SO MUCH MORE

I don’t know how many times it has happened…too many to count.

Visitor finds out I write a blog about Belize.  Visitor asks me about one of Belize’s most treasured sites, one of the natural wonders of the world, the Blue Hole.  I answer.

And then visitor looks at me…confused and disappointed.  Their eyes say it all (even if they don’t roll).  Pfffft….some kind of blogger?  An expert?  You’ve been in Belize 8 years and NEVER been to the Blue Hole?

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Recent photo taken from Tropic Air charter flight by Danielle Burruss

Well now that has changed!  Yesterday I went on the all day diving trip out to the Great Blue Hole of Belize.  The UNESCO World Heritage site…the 407 feet deep sink hole…formed during various ice ages and lined with stalagmites and ‘tites from when the sea level was much much lower.

Explored for the first time by Jacques Costeau with (very fittingly) Ramon Nunez of Ramon’s Village in the early 70s.  (Read about how Costeau asked Ramon to be his guide on his first trip to Belize.)

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This famous picture has been shared SO often, I am not sure of the original source. Anyone?

The Discovery Channel listed it as one of the 10 most amazing places on earth.

50 measly miles away (on open sea…with a 4:30am alarm going off) and I’d never been there.

Here is a simplified map of some of Belize’s reef system.  Me:  San Pedro Town.

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Getting up that early does have its benefits.  I walked onto the Ramon’s Village diving dock at 5:30am…and it was bustling.  There is a big crew getting ready for this full day trip.

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I was deliriously tired…I think I may have asked this guy for my snorkel gear.

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There was a good sized bunch of super cheery divers and a lovely family of 6 who were going snorkeling with me.  Lots of carbs served, coffees poured, we were out over the reef and on the open sea.  The total trip would be 2.5 hours.  Our slow down would be at Turneffe – where I reef rised up again.

After about an hour and a half (I was snoozing on and off) –  the water calmed considerably and we pulled up towards Cockroach Caye at Turneffe.   (The area also has a Baby Roach Caye and a Dog Flea Caye.)

IMG_2630We got a closer look on our way home…and there were fishing boats and fishermen resting after a LONG day.

IMG_2763Back out to the open sea for another hour and we reached…the Great Blue Hole.  And from sea level…this is what it looks like.

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Snorkelers in first along the coral lined edge…and the divers geared up to go towards the center.  They would be going to 140 feet to check out the cave formations and perhaps see a few sharks.

IMG_2636Our snorkel was beautiful…lots of fish…including beautiful midnight parrot fish and a spotted drum.- an odd looking little guy.  I really liked hovering over the deep blue abyss and at one point….I saw a shark.  A real Caribbean reef shark.

Next time?  I’m DEFINITELY going diving.  Time to get a refresher course and get ready.

Once out and on the boat again…I got a sense of the edges of the Blue Hole but from the air?  It is circular perfection.  From the boat?  Not so much.  A little…shocking…after seeing the overhead shots so often.

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We headed to our next dive/snorkel – and for the divers, the favorite, Half Moon Caye.

IMG_2647The water out here is just gorgeous and the weather could not have been more beautiful.

Good-bye Blue Hole.  I’ll be back – next time with 60+ lbs of gear on.

IMG_2649The water is really perfection.  I can totally see why developers (and John Travolta) want to build a massive development here with a Formula One Racetrack and Golf Course (Puerto Azul)…I’m just not sure why the Government of Belize would think it was a good idea.

At all.

IMG_2651We prepared to dock.

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And I spent about an hour walking the tiny caye from end to end.  It is absolute paradise.

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I first headed down the path to the Western Beach and the booby and frigate bird nesting area.

The stunning natural entrance to the path.

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There are cute signs all along the way.  Hermit crabs and shoe shopping.

IMG_2675Into the zericote “forest” where the boobies do their booby thing.

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And so do BIG hermit crabs

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Up the observation town and…here is what I saw.  Tree tops.

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But look closer and…

IMG_2692…the trees were packed with nesting birds.

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I continued out to the western beach and it’s just stunning.  The dive boats were out…

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Beautiful x 10000.

IMG_2705 IMG_2706I headed back to the picnic area.

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And chatted briefly with Mr. Rooster – light house keeper on this island for 25 years.  And maker of “the best coconut oil in Belize”.

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The other end of the caye has a lighthouse…we actually saw two good sized wrecks on the reef on the way over.  Here’s a photo of one from overhead…

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Photo by Danielle Burruss

Out to the lighthouse.

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The new lighthouse tower and the older brick one…collapsed during a hurricane years ago.

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Mr. Rooster has a solar panel.  And the best view I can possibly imagine.

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I spread my towel out on a picnic table and…sigh…under the swaying coconut palms it was heaven.

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I opened one eye to watch for my crew.

IMG_2758After stewed chicken, rice & beans, coleslaw and more water (we were told POPC!  Pee Often Pee Clear – the message of hydration was delivered often!), we had some time to explore the island.  Then…we were off to our next snorkel stop.  “The Aquarium”.  Teaming with fish…and more of my favorites, the midnight parrotfish –  an almost black fish wearing neon lipstick.

We started back.  This crew kept us FED!  But diving and snorkeling and sun is seriously exhausting.  Water and food.  Critical.

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This is the best snorkeling I’ve ever done in Belize.  Is it worth it?  The money…the long boat ride…the early wake up?  Everyone on the boat seemed to agree.  Yes.

But for a diving/snorkeling light-weight like me?  You might want a rest day after. 🙂

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For fantastic close-ups of the sharks of the Blue Hole, check out this guest post:  Finally!  A Weekend in Belize:  Sharks Galore in the Blue Hole and More.

For more gorgeous aerial photos of the Cayes and the Blue Hole, check out this guest post:  A Charter Flight Over the Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole…OH BELIZE!.  This was the one that finally got me off my butt and out there.

Thanks so much to the Ramon’s Dive Crew!  Professional and extremely well organized.  This is a long day – and these guys ran a smooth operation and got us back by “Happy Hour”.

At 5pm, we unloaded.   I was (and still am) exhausted!  But what a day.  Another “Belize is so freakin’ beautiful, I can’t even believe it” kinda day.

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And no!  I did not see El Chapo out there!  And if I did…there is no way I’d say a thing.

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YARDSALE





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  • Susan Watts

    Ok, I’m hooked. Will make reservations as soon as we get there! Can’t wait! Thanks again for wearing yourself for our benefit! LOL 🙂

    • Belize Blog

      Ha. How’d you know I was just napping? I think I am caught up on sleep now! And it was worth it!

  • Eric Jesus

    Blue Hole 2016 for sure this time

  • Dom Hardiman

    Closer than I thought, what was the approximate cost? Bucket list Nov 2015. 🙂

  • Erik Terdal

    Great trip report! And, yes, do the refresher course and then dive it.