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BELIZE: Diving the Great Blue Hole

The Blue Hole is a 400 foot deep, 980 foot diameter hole in the shallow surrounding reef in the ocean.  A some point long long ago when the sea level was much lower this hole was actually a cave with a ceiling, and within the cave formed enormous stalactites.  Then the sea rose and the ceiling collapsed leaving this perfectly round hole in the sea.

This dive alone was the reason I wanted to visit Belize.  I was only certified to dive a year and a half ago, but I like to look at lists on the internet of the worlds best dives and plan my dive trips accordingly.  This dive is the deepest dive than most recreational divers will ever do.  The maximum depth you’re advised to dive to as a recreational diver is 120 feet/40 meters, but the stalactite formations start at 130 feet so the rules are disregarded.  Going into the dive knowing all of this I was a pretty nervous, I am not a fan of deep depths or deep dark holes.  I was filled with excitement and dread the entire 15 minute boat ride out to the hole.   Our group was the first and only group of divers there since we were staying on Lighthouse Reef on a remote island, and all other dive boats had to make a 2 hour trip from the mainland.  After finally sucking it up and going under, the descent was super quick and within a minute or two we were down.  I actually didn’t even realize that we were deep until Jason pointed at my computer to show me that we were already past 100 feet.  I tried not to think about it, and when I looked a little deeper down I could see the first divers in our group starting to swim between the giant stalactites.  Because of the increased dangers of diving deep and the rapid rate that air is consumed at great depths, we could spend only 8 minutes swimming around the formations before we had to begin to ascend.  It was just us and the few reef sharks that curiously followed us on our dive.

View of a diver and a reef shark from 130 feet.

Just as I was feeling good and started to take pictures, we had to start to ascend.  On the way up there wasn’t much to see except for the curious reef sharks swimming alongside us.  Reef sharks aren’t very big nor are they dangerous, they are however super adorable.

A backup air tank and regulators hangs from our anchored boat.  With deep dives this is common as a safety precaution in case anybody surfaces with low air so that they can safely make their safety stop, which just involves hanging out at 15 feet for 3-5 minutes to off-gas built up nitrogen from your body.

Following the dive I flew my drone from our boat just as a second boat of divers arrived.  I didn’t quite get the shots I was hoping for since I didn’t have FPV setup on my drone yet to be able to see what I was filming, and the wind was too strong for me to comfortably send the drone up very high.  This hole was what inspired me to come to Belize, and after I had plans set to come to the hole, that was what inspired me to get a drone in the first place.  I didn’t want to make the trip by boat all the way out to this remote sinkhole in the ocean and not have a way to see it from the sky.