The Blue Hole, also known as The Great Blue Hole, is a stunning jewel set in a ring of corals. Measuring 1,000 feet across and approximately 450 feet deep, it is the world’s largest blue hole in the ocean. Divers descend into the Blue Hole’s tranquil abyss to see geological wonders and fascinating marine life. Giant stalactites, dripstone sheets, and columns are located in the Gallery at the southern rim of the Blue Hole. These structures formed in a dry cavern above sea level during glacial periods.
Jacques Cousteau revealed the secrets of the mysterious Blue Hole to millions of viewers in 1971 through the television series The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Today, dive boats follow the way of the famous Calypso to explore one of the world’s best destinations for scuba diving.
The History of Blue Hole Natural Monument
The Blue Hole has been able to provide a wealth of information on the geological history of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, supporting theories of changing sea level and of a southward tectonic tilt during the Pleistocene, as indicated by the spiral patterning and tilting of many of the stalactites within the hole. Studies of one of the stalactites collected by the Cousteau team in 1977 show that the most recent transition from exposure to air to submersion in a marine environment took place during the period 11,500 to 10,200 BC, with a steady increase in sea level during recent geological time, inundating the Atoll with sea water [Jones et. al., 2000]. The United Nations World Heritage Committee formally adopted seven marine protected areas along the Belize Barrier Reef and its adjacent atolls as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO at their meeting in Merida, Mexico on December 4th, 1996. The Blue Hole Natural Monument is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site. At the launching of the Belize Audubon Society’s 30th anniversary celebration in 1999, and agreement was signed between the Belize Audubon Society and the Government of Belize to co-manage BHNM.
Anchoring and Mooring at the Blue Hole Natural Monument
- There are three (3) permanent mooring buoys within the Blue Hole and designated anchoring sites around the perimeter of the Blue Hole.
- All mariners are required to contact Half Moon Caye park rangers prior to mooring or anchoring in order to get the GPS coordinates.
- Boat captains of vessels larger than 55 feet with a draft of 7 feet or greater, are required to contact Half Moon Caye park rangers in order to get the navigational way points.
There are navigational markers installed to guide mariners to Blue Hole. Channel markers starts west of Half Moon Caye and move north towards the Blue Hole.
Rules for Blue Hole Natural Monument
- Navigate with caution when entering the Blue Hole since there may be divers or snorkelers in the water.
- Mariners must inspect buoys prior to tying.
- Anchoring outside of designated sites is not allowed.
- Available buoys are for everyone to utilize; please be considerate of other mariners and share the buoys. Allow larger vessels to tie directly onto the buoys and smaller ones can tie onto the large vessel.
- When refueling, do so with care. Bilge, grey, black water or solid waste should not be emptied into the marine environment.
- The use of jet skies is not permitted.
- No life guard is on duty. Buddy with a partner or a licensed tour guide when conducting water activity.
- Use minimal sunscreen before entering the water.
- The area is a no take zone. Fishing, sport fishing and the removal of any specimen (dead or alive) from the water is prohibited.
- Feeding of marine life prohibited.
- Do not stand on or touch corals and other marine organism.
- Do not litter and ensure that you take back all garbage with you.
Blue Hole Natural Monument and the Lighthouse Reef Atoll are located 55 miles east of Belize City. Several PADI dive operators visit Half Moon Caye Natural Monument out of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Hopkins, or Belize City. There are also charter services from many dive shops in the country, live-aboard dive ships, as well as island lodges that provide packages that get you there.
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