Belize Lighthouse Reef is the farthest offshore of its three atolls and home to one of the most popular dive sites in the Caribbean, the Belize Blue Hole. Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso Expeditions made it famous in the mid 1970’s.
There are six cayes in the atoll. In the north, Sandbore Caye is one of the two cayes equipped with lighthouses occupied by a keeper and his family. Nearby is Northern Caye and these two cayes are known locally as Northern Two Cayes. On Northern Caye is one of the newest offshore diving resorts. Much of the caye has well-matured mangroves and there is an internal lagoon. The caye is noted for its saltwater crocodiles and snowy egrets.
The most popular caye at Lighthouse Reef Atoll is Half-moon Caye located at the southeast corner. This area was the first reserve to be established by the Natural Parks System Act of 1982 in Belize it encompasses 10,000 acres of the atoll and 15 square miles of surrounding waters. The is divided into two very distinct ecosystems. The western half is densely vegetated. The soils are made rich and fertile by guano from thousands of sea birds nesting in the area. The eastern half by comparison is vegetated primarily by coconut palms and very little underbrush.
One of the principle inhabitants of the western side is the Red-footed Booby, numbering around 4000 breeding birds. The adult booby population found on the island is unusual in having an almost total predominance of the white color phase. The only other similar booby colony is on an island near Tobago. If you’re an experienced nature-watcher you’ll see many different kinds of birds and iguanas (locally called Wish Willies) and all sorts of strange minor wildlife. Apart from the boobies, some 98 other species of birds have been recorded on the caye, including warblers, ospreys and white-crowned pigeons and the magnificent frigate bird.
Belize Blue Hole
Like a giant pupil in a sea of turquoise, the Belize Blue Hole is a perfectly circular limestone sinkhole more than 300 feet across and 412 feet deep. The array of bizarre stalactites and limestone formations which mould its walls seem to become more intricate and intense the deeper one dives. The temperature at 130ft is about 76F with hardly any change throughout the year at that depth.
For all the practical purposes the over 400-foot depth makes the Blue Hole a bottomless pit. The walls are sheer from the surface until a depth of approximately 110 feet where you will begin to encounter stalactite formations which actually angle back, allowing you to dive underneath monstrous overhangs. Hovering amongst the stalactites, you can’t help but feel humbled by the knowledge that the massive formation before you once stood high and dry above the surface of the sea eons ago. The feeling is enhanced by the dizzying effect of nitrogen breathed at depths. The water is motionless and the visibility often approaches 200 feet as you break a very noticeable the rmocline. Recently, Caribbean reef sharks have also taken up residency in the Blue Hole, creating more excitement for divers.
Besides the Belize Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef Atoll features many more world class dive sites including the Aquarium and Half-moon Caye Wall. The wall is a shallow drop-off beginning with huge nuggets of coral lying on a white sand bottom. A series of tunnels and swim-through pierce the wall. Schools of grouper and eagle ray are often seen swimming in the blue. This spectacular site is usually included with a dive trip to the Blue Hole.
Day trips to the Great Blue Hole is available from most coastal and island destinations in Belize however, they are way more frequent from Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and the private island resorts at Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Atoll. Bear this in mind if the Blue Hole is a priority on the list of tours you want to do when you visit Belize.
We arrange diving and snorkeling day trips to the Blue Hole from Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. (From Placencia and other destinations groups only)
The blue hole trip itinerary is as following:
- 3 Dive sites with 1 tank dive at each sites
- Boat departs the dive shop at 6:00AM
- Continental breakfast is served after boarding the dive boat on the way
- The first dive will be the Belize Blue Hole
- The second dive of the day is at the “Half Moon Caye Wall”
Following the second dive you will have a picnic lunch at Half Moon Caye with time for a short walk over to the Red Footed Boobie Sanctuary
- The third dive is another wall dive called “The Aquarium” at Long Caye. The crystal-clear, blue water has an abundance of colorful sponges, corals and marine life such as Reef Sharks, Dolphins and Turtles
- After the third dive the boat will return back to Ambergris Caye (arrival 5:30PM)
Diver rate $260 + $40 park fees, per person
Snorkeler rate $185 + $40 park fees, per person
– Include tanks, weights & belt
– Diving & snorkeling gears not included)
If you would like to be closer to the Blue Hole to make a trip consider an all inclusive package at one of the following private island resorts located at Lighthouse Reef Atoll itself or Turneffe: Huracan Diving Lodge | Blackbird Resort | Turneffe Island Resort | Turneffe Flats | Itza Lodge or a Liveaboard Dive Boat