Belize is UnBelizeable! Part 3
The Great Blue Hole
Welcome to part 3 of Belize is UnBelizeable! My experience in Belize. If you have not read part 1 please go read Belize is Unbelizeable! first. If you read part 1 but missed part 2 you can find it here: Belize is Unbelizeable Part 2.
So far in my experience you have read about Ambergris Caye, the Mayan ruins and cave tubing. Now I am going to tell you about my experiences snorkeling in Belize. Snorkeling is the entire reason I originally wanted to go to Belize. Belize has the worlds second largest reef. This reef is amazing!! Belize is also the home of the Great Blue Hole which is what the picture is of that I ended part 2 with and have began part 3 with.
The Great Blue Hole is a large submarine sinkhole about 43 miles (70km) off the coast from Belize City. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef. The hole is circular in shape. It is over 984 feet (300 m) across and it is 407 feet (124 m) deep. This is a must dive for scuba divers. As I have never ventured into scuba diving I was not really interested in it originally. However, it was part of a three location snorkeling excursion I booked through the Belizean Shores resort so I went. Don't worry if you do not have your own equipment because the resort will provide you with anything you need.
The dive boat was full of mainly divers on this excursion but there were a few snorkelers. Our first stop was the Great Blue Hole. This was about an hour and a half boat trip. During the ride the crew provided us with fresh fruit and drinks. I am lucky that I do not get sea sick but there were two people on the boat that were getting a little queezy as the water was a little rough that morning. The crew knew exactly what to do. They put the two people at the very back of the boat where there is less motion and they recovered quickly.
There is a nice reef that surrounds the Great Blue Hole, however it is kind of deep. We jumped in and then the divers entered the water. As the divers did their thing we snorkeled along the edge of the Great Blue Hole. The reef is a giant circle and it took us about the same amount of time to swim the entire circle as it did for the divers to do their dive so it worked out pretty good. The guide that was snorkeling pointed out a lot of different sea life and would tell us about it. There were huge sea cucumbers in this area. The Great Blue Hole was not the best reef to snorkel on but it was still really neat to be able to see it and I am glad I was able to.
Once we we were all done at the Great Blue Hole we went to another reef area near a Caye. On the way to the second place the ship crew provided us with lots of fresh fruit and drinks. Fresh oranges are AMAZING after snorkeling! First they dropped the divers off then the moved closer to shore and dropped off the snorkelers. This was a great place to snorkel. There was lots of coral and sea life. At times if gets a little shallow so I had to be careful not to brush up against the coral. The area is full of see fans, sea urchins, fish and all kinds of other sea life. It was very beautiful. This was a very easy place to snorkel and a great place for beginners.
After the Divers were finished with their dive we all got out of the water and went onto the Caye. The excursion crew provided us with a nice lunch. Then we spent some time wondering around the Caye and were able to visit the bird sanctuary that was located on the Caye.
After our lunch and walking around the Caye we all boarded the boat again and were off to another part of the reef. Once again the divers were dropped off at one sport then we were taken to more shallow water to snorkel. This place also had awesome coral reefs and an abundance of sea life. If was beautiful snorkeling here. The guide that was with us pointed out lots of things including huge lobsters that were hiding in the coral. Being the last dive of the day we were able to stay in the water well after the divers returned to the boat. However, we finally had to head back to the boat and back to the resort. On the way back to the resort there was plenty of fresh fruit, drinks and beer. This was a great trip! Even if you don;t dive this trip is definitely worth taking.
Sharks and Ray
Snorkeling with Sharks and Rays
Belizean Shores also offers a snorkeling trip where you get to snorkel with sharks and rays. This is only a half day trip and very family friendly. There were a lot of young kids the day I went and the guides really helped them out a lot. Once again don't worry if you do not have your own equipment because the resort will provide you with what ever you need.
The reef is only about a half mile or less straight out from the resort so they took us out on a large catamaran. it was probably a half hour ride or so because we did not go straight to the reef but went out near this channel in the reef. During the ride the guides gave us a lot of history about Belize and told us about the reef. The guides also asked for volunteers to help raise the sails once we were away from the dock. We even saw Dolphins on our way out there.
Once we tied off at the reef and as we were getting ready to get in the water the crew threw a lot of chum in. Immediately sharks showed up and were chowing down. They were all nurse sharks so there was no danger. Then we jumped in and were floating above the sharks as they were eating. It was an awesome experience! Then rays started gliding over. Now I have seen rays before and even caught a few but these rays were HUGE!!!! Some of them looked to be over 6 feet (1.8m) wide. These rays could care less that we were in the water and as long as you don't grab them they are not dangerous. There were tons of rays in this area.
After swimming around the sharks and rays we swam over to the reef. This was another nice reef area and it also had a nice deep channel for the boats to get past the reef. There were tons of fish and more rays. The coral was awesome and this reef is well preserved. Even with the amount of tourists that constantly visit, it the reef still looks very healthy. For those of us that were good swimmers there was a part of the coral that had formed a small tunnel that we could swim through. It was in deeper water on the edge of the channel so some people were not able to swim down that deep. It was even cool just watching people swim through the tunnel.
Eventually we all had to return to the catamaran and head back. It was a nice slow ride back to the resort. The crew played music and provided lots of snacks and fresh fruit to eat. They also provided drinks and beer. ( So have you noticed a trend yet? At the end of every excursion they always provide plenty of beer in Belize!) The catamaran returned to the resort with plenty of time for a nap and to get cleaned up before going out for the night. This is a great day trip if you just want to go easy and do something fun. As I said before this was also a very family friendly trip for people of all ages.
What Else Can you Do??
There is so much to do in Belize that 10 days was no where near enough time. As I said in part 2 you could spend entire month just visiting ruins and archeological sites. The Resort has kayaks you can borrow to kayak out to the reef on your own and spend as much time as you like snorkeling it. It is about a half mile journey so I recommend choosing a day when the sea is calm. Besides tubing, snorkeling, diving and exploring ruins there are tons of other things to do. Belize is a bird watchers paradise if you are into that. The resort offered horse back riding excursions, ATV excursions and all sorts of other things. There is plenty to keep you busy with fun filled activities every day you are there. But if you just want to spend a day relaxing there is nothing better then hanging out at the swim up pool bar talking to other vacationers and Joe the bartender.
I was definitely not ready to leave Belize when my trip was over and I can not wait to return. I hope you enjoyed reading about Belize! Belize should be your next destination if you want to spend some time in a tropical paradise!
Thanks for reading my article(s). GO TO BELIZE!!!!!