Dean’s Blue Hole is conveniently close to Clarence Town on Long Island and is one of the most incredible attractions in the Bahamas. It's the world’s second deepest blue hole just behind Dragon Hole (also called Longdong) in the South China Sea, and thus attracts plenty of adventurous people from all corners of the globe; from leisurely snorkelers and swimmers to curious scuba divers and the world's most talented freedivers, Dean's Blue Hole has become a mecca for the underwater enthusiasts - and has even become a place of world record-breaking events.
Be it with a tank on one's back or not, diving Dean's Blue Hole is a bucket list item worthy of any thrill-seeker's cravings. Of course, it's possible to dive it - and in various ways, with some requiring particular levels of skill, experience, certification, and courage. If a trip to this exceptional blue-and-white wonder of the world is on the roster in the near future, it's wise to figure out exactly how one can dive it, and what one needs in order to do so enjoyably, but more importantly, safely.
What Is Dean's Blue Hole?
A blue hole is a special kind of underwater cavern and is also referred to as a sinkhole sometimes. What makes a blue hole different from other sinkholes is that it's full of water, with an entrance submerged beneath the surface instead of being on land.
Dean’s Blue Hole is quite different from many others seen around the world - most of which are situated out in the open ocean. Instead, Dean's boasts convenient access since it's positioned right next to Long Island's green cliffs and a pristine white sand beach - allowing walk-in access from the shore or easy access from a boat. It's perfectly sheltered from the wind, waves, and open ocean, resulting in almost zero current all the time, which translates to calm water and excellent water clarity.
Plus, no matter the season, diving this spectacle of nature is doable year-round - not just because of good visibility and tranquil ocean conditions, but also due to inviting temperatures that average around 24°C (75°F) from December to March, and 31°C (88°F) in the summer months from June to August.
How Deep Is Dean's Blue Hole?
Although its diameter of about 30.5 meters (100 feet) at the surface may seem small to begin with, Dean's Blue Hole actually opens up into a whopping 100-meter-wide (330 feet) cavern at depth - a number that has earned it an esteemed place among the largest underwater caverns on the planet.
And it's not just its width that drops the jaws of even the most seasoned explorers who think they've seen all of planet Earth's marvels; its depth is almost miraculous in scale - 202 meters (663 feet) this big boy plunges to, thus attracting some of the best freedivers the world has ever seen. In fact, Dean's Blue Hole is deservedly the site of the annual freediving championship - Vertical Blue International Freediving Competition - in which the freediving elite compete against one another to smash world depth records and claim record-breaking titles as their own.
It's also good news for rookie freedivers; the nearby Vertical Blue freediving school is also open to beginners, not just experienced breath holders. It's operated by the renowned William Trubridge - himself a professional freediver and freediving world record holder. After all, who better to teach newbies the ins and outs of this exceptional sport than a record-breaking expert?
Freediving At Dean's Blue Hole
There is so much more to Dean’s Blue Hole than simply being the world’s second deepest blue hole. Freediving is an absolutely captivating activity that you can take part in here; it involves swimming down as deep as the diver can go without the use of breathing apparatus. Some record holders also swim without fins to create a little more of a challenge.
Though the freedivers of the world are in limited numbers, anyone can show up to the annual Freediving Championship to participate in or observe the competition. Plus, spectators may even get to witness new world records being broken. Overall this is one of the top freediving destinations in the world and it attracts a number of the world’s elite freedivers, as well as those just starting out and those wanting to practice and hone their skills.
Snorkeling At Dean's Blue Hole
Freediving is not the only water sport; leisurely swimmers and snorkelers can also get in on the fun. A sandbar circles the outer edge of Dean’s Blue Hole, providing visitors with a suitable launching point for a relaxing swim or an exploratory snorkeling session. Along with viewing the hole's majestic topography, snorkelers can also watch schools of fish swim around, gaze at the stunning corals that thrive around the hole's rim, and even spot a sea turtle passing by if they're lucky.
Scuba Diving At Dean's Blue Hole
Swimmers who wish to dive deeper and enjoy a more intimate experience can opt for a scuba diving tour of Dean's Blue Hole. This will allow them to head deeper than swimmers and snorkelers and to witness the glory of the hole's epic topography up close as they descend into the hole. Scuba diving at Dean's Blue Hole also allows divers to get up close to the stunning corals that cling to the hole's rim, whilst schools of fish form mesmeric clouds of color, small macro critters bustle in the sand, and turtles and rays swim on by.
Scuba Diving Certifications Required
Blue hole diving tends to be classed as a "technical dive" because it demands a certain level of qualification, skill, and experience. Of course, all diving has inherent risk - even Bahamas blue hole diving - but as long as divers have the required certification level and experience, are calm, follow all safety precautions, do not push limits, and even better - they dive with an experienced divemaster or instructor who is familiar with the dive site - diving is one of the safest sports.
So what qualifications must one have in order to dive a blue hole, or more specifically Dean's Blue Hole? It depends on who is asked. Dive operators can set their own minimum requirements in terms of certification level and number of dives completed by a person - but even with that being the case, there are some global standards set by leading dive and training agencies, like PADI, SDI, SSI, and NAUI to name but a few.
Open Water Certification
Open water-certified divers may or may not be granted access to dive the blue hole by a dive operator, as it is at the business's discretion as to who they take on a dive trip. But on the whole, having this first level of dive certification permits divers to descend to a maximum depth of 18 meters. This means that divers with only this level of certification cannot go deeper into Dean's Blue Hole than 18 meters - which is still enough depth to enjoy the experience and see some amazing things underwater.
Some beginners do actually take their open water course at the blue hole with reputable instructors, which isn't against the rules, but it does mean that they cannot dive deeper than 12 meters on their first two ocean dives, followed by a maximum of 18 meters on their third and fourth ocean dives - after which they are certified to 18 meters upon completion of the course.
Advanced Open Water Certification
This is the next level up from the open water certification and is the recommended level for anyone who wants to dive blue holes. During the deep diver section of the advanced open water course, students get to descend to a maximum of 30 meters - a befitting depth for Dean's Blue Hole. Upon completion of the advanced course, divers are certified to a maximum of 30 meters, which is a much better depth if blue hole diving is on the bucket list.
Deep Diver Certification
Any diver who wants to go deeper than 30 meters can sign up for a deep diver specialty course, which most global scuba dive training agencies offer. Completing this course allows underwater explorers to descend to a maximum depth of 40 meters - the absolute limit of recreational diving, beyond which extends into the more complicated and dangerous realm of technical diving, requiring even more extensive training and skill.
Being able to dive to 40 meters at Dean's Blue Hole will require this certification level, so any diver who wants to do just that should ensure they have undertaken this qualification already before heading out or inquiring about completing it with a reputable, experienced dive center or licensed instructor during their stay.
What Is There To See At Dean's Blue Hole?
The immense topography of course! The entire site is a marvel of Mother Nature, showing off exactly what she can do when left to create natural artwork over many thousands of years. The dramatic underwater seascape with its plummeting vertical cave is none other than extra-terrestrial and is the primary reason why so many adventurers come to discover it all year-round.
However, the formation itself isn't the only thing to gawk at; there are a plethora of amazing marine species to look out for. Whilst enjoying some quintessential Bahamas scuba diving, freediving, or even snorkeling in the shallow lagoon around the hole's rim, a number of beautiful sea creatures can be observed. From tiny macro critters like seahorses and shrimp bustling in the sandbanks to vibrant tropical fish, clouds of snappers, large groupers, and the occasional passing ray, the bright blue waters around the hole teem with life. Plus, lucky divers and snorkelers might even get the chance to swim with a friendly sea turtle.
Whatever travelers get up to at Dean’s Blue Hole, it is without a single doubt that they're bound for the time of their lives. Viewing such a majestic feature of nature is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and when it's combined with superb water activities like swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and freediving, the trip is guaranteed to be one of life's most memorable.
And once bumping shoulders with many of the abundant sea species thriving beneath the surface whilst simultaneously marveling at one of the planet's most incredible underwater topographic displays, one will truly have a difficult time ascending back to the surface (mentally, not literally of course!)