Before we arrived in Belize I knew the diving would be great but I had heard mixed opinions on going to the Blue Hole!
Is it worth the 2 hour boat trip?
Is it worth $250?
These were the questions I asked myself, however when I went to Frenchies dive shop I quickly got enticed into booking it. For one I didn’t think we would come back to Belize anytime soon and to say I went but didn’t dive the Blue hole would possibly sit on my list of missed opportunities.
I went to Frenchie’s dive shop in Caye Caulker (not far from the Lazy Lizard and on the seafront) as they were the most highly recommended and had a trip out on the day I wanted. Also when I went there they had professional staff and the equipment was well maintained and of good quality.
The day before the trip i was asked to report to the dive shop to set up my equipment and size up my wet suit ready for the early morning start at 6am sharp….As I haven’t dived for a year or so its always challenging remembering the correct way to connect the BCD etc but after a little nudge in the right direction it was set up and loaded on the boat for the morning’s adventure. During the day we had passed some time drinking cocktails in the Lazy Lizard and had met an American couple that we shared a few more drinks with however as I had the early start I didn’t drink as much as Smita (she could barely cycle back to our room).
Then at night I experienced what I could only describe as the devil trying to escape from my body……a number of visits to the loo in the middle of the night was not what I needed, in fact all I could think of was how big the Blue hole is and that if this carried on there was a strong possibility of the blue hole turning brown!
I woke early, a bit groggy from the night before but OK. I cycled to Frenchie’s dive shop, in the rain, decided to take my “mac in a sac” (not the computer) which turned out to be one of the best decisions I had made. After a bite to eat and a coffee in the dive shop we set off on the boat. The boat was about 20 foot long and we were advised to sit at the back if you suffer from sea sickness. Unfortunately for me these seats were already snapped up by a Belizean family, doh, but I had been prepared and taken a sea sickness tablet. So I perched on the left edge of the boat, this turned out to be the worst decision of the trip. The seas were rough and the ride was what i could only describe as speed boat rodeo…..I had a tiny ledge to my left and the sharp edge below my seat for grip. At one point, probably about 45 minutes in I moved some flippers under the seat and carelessly removed my seized up hands from the boat just as a wave hit….fortunately I had a big plastic cool box to break my fall and save the day!
On top of the boat rodeo I was being continuously drenched by the waves which is where my “mac in a sac” came into a world of its own. After about 1 hour we reached Half Moon Caye where the waves calmed somewhat and the captain decided to dock the boat for some shelter whilst a storm passed. This was a very much welcomed by everyone on board, especially as he recalled a boat trip where the captain and a passanger got struck by lightening leaving one fatality. NO THANK YOU.
The second hour of the journey was a lot less bumpy but by then my arse already had substantial bruising from the hard plastic seat and all I could think of was that the diving better be really good…
We had arrived…horray….the weather was a bit overcast so it wasn’t immediately obvious that we were over the amazing blue hole, however as we had left at such a stupidly early time we were the only boat to be seen which meant we had the whole place to ourselves.
The Blue Hole is a limestone cave that at some point in time had the roof collapse in on itself resulting in a very deep cavern with sharks and natural underwater stalactites revealing themselves at about 30-40 metres. The group was split into two. The first group with PADI open water diver certificates and the second group with the PADI advanced open water certificate (this is what I have). The first group would only go to 30 metres! Our group would decend to 40 meters and swim under and around the stalactites.
The dive was like nothing I have ever done before, a sheer clear blue drop to the center of the earth. We saw a couple of sharks at about 35 metres and then went in and out of the stalactites for about 6 minutes and then acended slowly back to the boat. It was a great experience but not a dive full of marine life. Sometimes you do see hamerheads lurking but not on my dive.
Back on board the boat and ready to move to the next dive site, also in the Lighthouse reef which is regarded as one of the best dive sites in Belize and the whole Caribbean. This dive (Half Moon Caye Wall) was drasticly different and a great experience in itself and infact made the trip much more memorable. The dive was gentle to the edge of a large shelf at about 15 metres. Because of the diversity of marine life, corals and great conditions it makes for one of the top dives I’ve ever done, sadly I have no footage of this dive as my GoPro wouldn’t turn on when I was in the water, however there are lots of videos on YouTube. A few large sharks, large eagle rays, pleanty of puffer fish and many many more schools of fish, not to mention lots of living coral and plant life with crystal clear warm waters made this a truly amazing dive.
We stopped for lunch on Half Moon Caye which is a nesting spot for blue and red footed Boobies. We took a walk and snapped some photos on the island before tucking into some chicken and rice n peas.
After lunch we headed for our third and final dive of the trip, Long Caye Wall (The Aquarium), as the name suggests this dive was like jumping into a tropical aquarium. As soon as you are in the water you are in the middle of schools of large fish with crystal clear visibility and so many amazing live aquarium plants. I would say this dive shouldn’t be missed. Again one of my top dives ever.
Just an hour boat ride back, which wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the journey out as I upgraded my seating position to the detriment of someone else.
Overall the Blue Hole is a very different dive and I loved the experience however this trip was made much more worth while with the “Half Moon Caye Wall” and “The Aquarium” dives. If anything the trip is worth it for these two dives alone. So if you are having second thoughts then just go for it! If I were to go back I would make a beeline for anyone selling trips to Turneff Elbow as this was a firm favourite of the dive crew.