The Great Blue Hole is the world’s largest natural formation of its kind, and it is part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize. It is a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is ranked as a top scuba diving site in the world. Its fame has stemmed from its beautiful waters, stunning size and grandeur, and its fantastic variety of marine life.
The Great Blue Hole has been described by NASA as “surrounded by darker, deeper ocean waters, with coral atolls that often glow in vibrant hues of turquoise, teal, peacock blue, or aquamarine. Belize’s Lighthouse Reef Atoll fits this description, with its shallow waters covering light-colored coral: the combination of water and pale corals creates varying shades of blue-green. Within this small sea of light colors, however, lies a giant circle of deep blue”. Their description of the beauty cannot do it justice enough though. It is an incredible site and is renowned for a reason. It is an amazing destination to take in all that mother nature has to offer, and there are numerous adventures awaiting you to discover.
Here are 13 pictures that make us want to visit, and 12 that will make us shudder.
25 Want To Visit: Set Amongst Belize's Turquoise Waters
The Great Blue Hole is located about 100 kilometers off of the coast of Belize, in the Caribbean Sea. According to CN traveller, it is one of the world’s most iconic sites in Central America. The site garners international attention for its beautiful waters and for its majesty.
Although Belize is a tiny piece of land south of Mexico and east of Guatemala, World Adventure Divers states that tourists continue to flock to Belize for its beautiful coastlines and to see this natural wonder. Arriving by speedboat or plane, everyone can appreciate the Great Blue Hole.
24 Makes Us shudder: Try Not To Think About What Awaits Below
Caves Branch states that the drop off is what makes the Great Blue Hole so exciting. The depth creates a darkness, so many of the divers feel as though they are descending into a mythical underworld.
As people have been unable to explore the bottom before, no one knows what is beneath on the sea floor. Many assume there will be a build-up of silt from over the years, however no one knows what marine life might be living down there. As you dive deeper, try not to think about what is below you!
23 Want To Visit: Over 1000 Feet Wide
After a two-hour journey on a bumpy speedboat from the Belize coastline, you arrive at the Great Blue Hole in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. According to CN Traveler, the Great Blue Hole measures around 305 meters or around 1000 feet across and is a breathtaking site upon arrival.
Revered for its size and grandeur, many marvel at how perfectly circular the hole is. It is the world’s largest natural formation of its kind according to UNESCO. The water here is calm due to the surrounding circular reef, making it a perfect site to explore.
22 Makes Us shudder: Inky Darkness In The Deep Blue Water
Hopefully you aren’t afraid of the dark! Due to the depth of the sinkhole, sunlight is unable to reach the floor of the hole which gives the area an inky blue darkness.
Recently, Glyn Collinson, a NASA scientist explored the Great Blue Hole and stated that it was the “deepest, deep blue hole imaginable; a chasm that fell away deep into the deep, dark blue’ stated Belize.com. Visibility is minimal which provides a sense of isolation, so if you want to explore the area, make sure to bring a light!
21 Makes Us shudder: Skydive Into The Depths
You visited Belize and skydived into the Great Blue Hole? You understood correctly, it has been done and there is photo evidence of this. Sometimes regular diving isn’t a thrill enough and skydiving adds more excitement. It has been done before, and many videos have surfaced on the internet of individuals and groups skydiving into the depths of the Great Blue Hole.
As if it didn’t already have enough intrigue and interest around it. This makes for an epic photo opportunity and has created even more interest in the destination.
20 Want To Visit: Perfect Place For A Close Interaction With Marine Life
Many divers like to dive to see beautiful colourful marine life, however, the Great Blue Hole is the home to more interesting and unique creatures. Swimming around through the surrounding coral, you can find many different types thriving. Coral such as Elkhorn and Brain Corals have grown in the shallower portions. There you can find denizens, Pederson’s shrimp, neon gobies, angelfish, groupers and purple sea fans.
It provides a perfect up close and personal interaction with marine life, while observing all of the beauty surrounding you.
19 Makes Us shudder: Hope You Aren't Afraid Of Sharks Though
Swimming amongst all of that beautiful coral, marine life and ancient geographic formations, are many different types of more intimidating animals. There are multiple types of shark brimming in the area. Species such as the Caribbean Reef shark, bull sharks, black tip sharks, giant groupers, nurse sharks and hammerhead sharks can all be found navigating through the waters.
It is a perfect and rich habitat for a variety of marine life and adds interest to the area. Hopefully you aren’t afraid of sharks though, because you are likely to see one visiting the area!
18 Want To Visit: Top Site To Scuba Dive In The World
According to the World Adventure Divers, once you start scuba diving, you hear very quickly about the Great Blue Hole. As its popularity and interest has grown, it has become a world-class destination for diving due to this sinkhole, marine life and atolls.
It has been proclaimed as a top 10 dive spot in the world by many, and it upholds its reputation to this day. Sources such as the Discovery Channel and Scuba Travel Magazine all declare it was one of the best.
17 Makes Us shudder: A Massive Sinkhole In The Caribbean Sea
The Great Blue Hole is an enormous submarine sinkhole in the Caribbean Sea. The hole is circular and is almost 125 meters or 410 feet deep. The Curiosity states that this is taller than the world’s tallest tree and wider than three football fields across. Thousands of years ago, the Great Blue Hole was actually a dry on-land cave system, which we know by the mineral dripping which only forms in on-land cave ceilings.
Eventually, sea levels rose and caused this system to collapse and the sea filled in the hole left behind.
16 Makes Us shudder: A Giant, ominous Cave Awaits
The Great Blue Hole is a sinkhole that was created by a ‘karst cave system’ according to the CN Traveler. According to Cahalpech, scientists believe that these structures were formed in a dry cavern above sea level during the glacial periods, but after thousands of years of erosion, the soft rock inside collapsed. However, much of these cave structures still remain visible today.
This essentially formed a massive vertical cave, which includes a limestone shelf about 40 feet below the surface and many smaller cave areas throughout.
15 Want To Visit: Surrounded By The Lighthouse Reef
The Great Blue Hole is near the centre of the Lighthouse Reef in the Caribbean Sea. This ancient sea structure might have begun developing over 70 million years ago, and might have originated on top of giant fault blocks rather than subsiding volcanoes. Most likely, limestone covered ridges settled into steps offshore which provided platforms for coral growth.
After the last Ice Age, the sea level began to rise and the coral growth expanded. This created the outer waters and shallow inside lagoon. This island of coral garners much attention annually from divers and scientists alike.
14 Makes Us shudder: Rock Formations From The Last Ice Age
As mentioned before, the geology of the area indicates that The Great Blue Hole can be dated all the way back to the Ice Age. According to Cahalpech, water used to filter through the rocks, however millions of years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, the waters rose due to the polar ice-caps and led the caverns to be engulfed by the sea.
These forces caused this chasm to collapse onto itself and create the sinkhole that we see today. The rock formations show evidence of this, adding interest to the area.
13 Makes Us shudder: Only A Small Portion Has Been Explored
Much of the cave area remains unexplored. Most divers can only get 40 meters or 130 feet below the surface. More than half of the cave area has not been explored in depth. IFLScience stated that a new study is being conducted in December 2018 to construct a real-life model of the sinkhole and to collect information on the water quality.
The first part of the expedition aired on the Discovery Channel, however, the research will continue. One the team is Richard Branson and Jacques Cousteau’s son, Fabien Cousteau.
12 Want To Visit: Interesting Cave System To Explore
Even the most experienced divers will find the Great Blue Hole interesting. Cahalpech states that starting at the surface, divers enter a steeply walled entrance and descend to find remnants of the rock formations and cave system from the Ice Age. Much of the cave system was destroyed during the collapse of the sinkhole, however the structure remains.
Divers enjoy negotiating their way around and exploring through the rock formations, enjoying little light as they make their descent. Many are awestruck as they take in the ancient structures.
11 Want To Visit: Incredible Stalactites To See
Many divers are particularly interested in the underwater stalactites and stalagmites, which were formed during the last glacial period. Some of these stalactites and stalagmites measure up to 12 meters or 40 feet in length, according to Belize.com. Cahalpech states that the first formations can be seen as you begin your descent, and divers enjoy exploring the overhangs and giant stalagmites.
If you are able to dive even further, it is possible to explore bedrock ledges and underwater dunes! Farther than that, divers find a limestone shelf, however any farther descent leads into the unknown.
10 Want To Visit: The Atolls In Belize Are A Rare Sight In The Western Hemisphere
The Belize Atolls are an anomaly in the Caribbean. There is nothing else in the Western Hemisphere that resembles a true coral atoll according to Belize.com other than perhaps the Chinchorro Reef off of Mexico’s southern coastline in the Yucatan Peninsula.
According to geologists, they are even more rare and unusual because the origin of their formation does not seem to mimic or mirror that of the atolls that can be found in the Pacific Ocean, where rings of coral are found more frequently. Also as more coral continues to die off globally, this preserved reef becomes increasingly more special.
9 Want To Visit: The Wonders of Nature
The Frontier Post has listed the Great Blue Hole as a top Wonder of Nature. Charles Darwin described it as one of the most remarkable reefs in the West Indies. As it is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, this area has a special place on the list of Wonders of Nature.
As it is an incredible home for over 500 species of fish and 106 species of coral, along with the natural beauty of the submarine sinkhole, it rightfully has earned its spot upon the list.
8 Want To Visit: Longstanding UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole have been listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, along with the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. As the natural ecosystem has the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, an offshore atoll, several hundred sand cays, coastal lagoons and estuaries, it has been placed as a UNESCO protected site.
The system’s seven sites show the evolutionary history of reef development, and are an important significant habitat for threatened species. UNESCO states that it has a universal value, and needs to be protected from overharvesting of marine resources, coastal development, tourism, industrial development and proposed oil and gas exploration.
7 Want To Visit: Ranked Number One On "The 10 Most Amazing Places On Earth" By Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel created a list on the 1o Most Amazing Places On Earth. The Great Blue Hole ranked number one on that list, and ever since it has garnered an interest surrounding its mysteries. To continue making more discoveries about the Great Blue Hole, it broadcasted a live presentation from the bottom to explore the floor of the Great Blue Hole.
This exploration is going to be incredible for research into how climate change impacts formation and growth and provide more insight into the formation of the sinkhole.
6 Want To Visit: Coveted Location In The Diving Community
According to Belize.com, many flock from all over the world to dive in Belize. Many are attracted by the crystal clear and calm waters, and the Great Blue Hole is often listed as a top world-class diving destination. According to World Adventure Divers, it is one of the most exciting and coveted locations known to recreational divers, and many need to discover why it has become so famous.
Ranking as a top dive destination has made it the top tourist destination in Belize, and draws thousands to the area annually.
5 Want To Visit: Fly Above For A Different Perspective
Want to get a different and interesting perspective on the Great Blue Hole? Topic Air has you covered. If you are swimming and diving in the Great Blue Hole, you won’t be able to see the iconic image of the natural wonder. By taking an aerial tour, you will be able to appreciate the true immensity and grandeur of the sinkhole and the beautiful colour of the waters.
Tours typically last for one hour and have received rave reviews for how incredible of an opportunity it is.
4 Want To Visit: Swim In The Crystal Clear Waters
Not ready to dive but still want to experience the Great Blue Hole? You can still traverse the rim of the sinkhole and look down at the deep below. You can even snorkel around and take in the marine life and surrounding coral reef. You don’t need to be a recreational diver to travel to the Great Blue Hole to take in all that it has to offer. The experience can be just as magical and unique. You can still swim in the beautiful calm blue water and appreciate how lucky you are to visit such an incredible destination.
3 Makes Us shudder: Going out of the comfort zone
Although the Great Blue Hole is known as a world-class diving destination, it has so much more to offer. It is possible to enjoy the sites in so many ways. There are many opportunities to try new things and to overcome new fears. You will be amazed at how many bucket list items you can achieve, and you will be in awe of the chances put in front of you.
It can be intimidating to take the first step towards greatness, but you will look back and be satisfied with all that you have done.
2 Want To Visit: Adventure Of A Lifetime
Although the Great Blue Hole is known as a world-class diving destination, it has so much more to offer. It is possible to enjoy the sites in so many ways. There are many opportunities to try new things and to overcome new fears. You will be amazed at how many bucket list items you can achieve, and you will be in awe of the chances put in front of you. It can be intimidating to take the first step towards greatness, but you will look back and be satisfied with all that you have done.
1 Want To Visit: Explored By Jacques Cousteau, Named By Ned Middleton
Belize.com states that in the mid 1970’s, Jacques Cousteau (a famous marine biologist) made an investigation into the Great Blue Hole and the atolls surrounding it. After his exploration, he stated that it was one of the top ten best dive spots on the planet. He later displayed what he found on a television series called “The Undersea World Of Jacques Cousteau” bringing attention to the area.
However, according to the Cahalpech, the actual name came from a British diver Ned Middleton, who wrote, that if Australia could have ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ then Belize could have ‘The Great Blue Hole’.
Sources: UNESCO, NASA, Discovery Channel, IFL Science, CN Traveler, World Adventure Divers, Cahalpech, Belize.com, Scuba Travel Magazine, The Frontier Post