Blue Hole or Sinkhole in Belize
The Great Blue Hole is a huge attraction for the country of Belize, so you’ll have no problem finding a way to get to it. Because of it’s striking appearance from above, helicopter and airplane tours have become increasingly popular. Helicopter flights tend to be a bit pricier simply because you get to spend more time suspended above the Hole. A strum Helicopters offers really great rates and a whole helicopter ride dedicated to The Great Blue Hole. For a quicker (and slightly cheaper) trip, book a round trip charter flight with Tropic Air from San Pedro to the Blue Hole. Both options will offer you priceless views of The Great Blue Hole and the luminous blue water that surrounds it. If diving or snorkeling is your thing, check out Seahorse Dive Shop, they offer guided diving and snorkeling tours for everyone, regardless of experience level.
Many tropical paradises have the pleasure of claiming their own blue hole, so if Belize is too far of a trek, chances are, there’s a blue hole somewhere in your neck of the woods just waiting to be explored. Dean’s Blue Hole off the coast of the Bahamas is the deepest blue hole with an entrance below sea-level, which is why it’s contrast appears less defined. Other famous blue holes can be found off the coasts of Egypt, Guam and Australia, so if you ever want to feel like you’re floating toward the center of the world, seek out the nearest blue hole and start diving.
The Great Blue Hole is quiet, mysterious, and for the most part, largely unexplained. About 980 feet across and 400 feet deep, calling it a giant underwater cave would be an understatement. It’s actually a large sinkhole that formed over 150,000 years ago and has been evolving ever since. Once a giant crater above sea level, as the ocean rose, the hole filled with water and quickly became the giant blue abyss we see today. French filmmaker and explorer, Jaques Cousteau, declared it one of the best scuba diving sites in the world. The Discovery Channel listed it as one of the 10 most amazing places on Earth. Today, it is a very popular UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing visitors from around the world.
There are other underwater caves and sinkholes around the world, but the Great Blue Hole is the only one big enough to be seen from space. The Hole also operates as it’s own little microcosm with over 400 plant, animal and bacteria species unique to region. Although it seems like one giant abyss, it’s actually a system of over 10 caves (that you can’t see from the surface), so there’s plenty for scuba divers to explore. But be careful, because the deeper you go, the less oxygen there is. The bottom is said to be pitch black and basically lifeless. Part of the Lighthouse Reef System, a number of dive companies like Ambergris Divers can take you to explore the natural wonder.
The prospect of being trapped in the holes discourages many divers, and there is still danger involved in exploring them. Even with the most modern safety equipment divers never venture into the blue holes alone: anyone attempting to do so at high tide would be sucked in like a cork down a drain, sustaining the legend of the Lusca.
It looks, at first, like a giant, flat, ink blot in the sea, but underneath this sinkhole – the largest in the world – is a cavern large enough to swallow two Boeing 747s with room to spare.
Famed marine explorer Jacques Cousteau didn’t discover the sinkhole, located in the Caribbean sea off the coast of Belize, but he did name it “The Great Blue Hole” in 1971, and it’s been a magnet for scuba divers ever since.
Now, in the first mission of its kind, Cousteau’s grandson and Sir Richard Brandon are plunging to the deep, dark bottom of it in a submarine as part of an expedition that will be streamed live and broadcaster globally on the Discovery Channel.
This will be quite a feat. Scuba divers generally only descend to a maximum of 40 meters underwater, so what lies beneath that remains largely uncharted territory, and there’s a lot of it.
Branson and Fabien Cousteau will join Aquatica Submarines’ chief pilot Erika Bergman and make several expeditions into the sinkhole this weekend in a remote-piloted Stingray 500 submarine, to collect data and map out the submerged cave.
The trio departed on Monday morning, Australian time, into the deep.
The celebration of the first divers to survey the bottom of Belize’s giant sinkhole was tempered by the discovery that plastic pollution had beaten them to it.
The Great Blue Hole draws the viewer and tourists to it like some like some tropical singularity into which the ocean drops away. It’s one of the Central American country’s most iconic landmarks.
However at the bottom of its pristine natural beauty divers have found a dirty secret.
The perfect circular pool descends 120 meters, creating a dark ring of water. It is at this depth that the team led by Virgin founder Richard Brandon made the shocking discovery of plastic bottles and pollution.