The Great Blue Hole of Belize

The Great Blue Hole of Belize is part of  the biggest Barrier Reef in the Northern & Western Hemispheres described by Charles Darwin as “the richest and most remarkable coral reefs in the entire western Caribbean,” and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The Great Blue Hole is a giant underwater sinkhole which is located near the centre of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 43 miles (70 km) from the mainland.

The shallow waters surrounding the Great Blue Hole have crystal-clear waters and spectacular coral formations as well as myriad species of marine life including  tropical fish, nurse sharks, giant groupers, and several types of reef sharks such as the Caribbean reef shark and the Blacktip.

The Great Blue Hole measures 1,043 ft (318 m) across and 407 ft (124 m) deep. The Blue Hole was originally formed as a series of enormous dry caverns above sea level around 153,000 years ago during the Ice Age. It is thought that over time the caverns collapsed upon each other and became completely submerged with rising sea levels approximately 15,000 years ago.

The Great Blue Hole was made famous with Secrets of the Sunken Caves, an episode of the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau broadcast in the early 1970s following the marine explorer’s research vessel, the Calypso, to investigate the depths of the sinkhole in 1972. The expedition found some submerged stalactites in the hole, and was able to conclude that the Blue Hole was formed before ocean levels rose.

 

Today, more than 45 years after Jacques Cousteau, British entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson is planning to explore the Great Blue Hole in a submarine and to stream live video from the bottom.

The interior of the Blue Hole is a dramatic contrast with the surrounding waters as the amount of sunlight entering the Blue Hole is limited. Divers are rewarded with fascinating limestone formations and the sight of extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites at the entrance to a recessed cave.

Please contact us to discuss diving holidays in Belize and liveaboard cruises.