If you’re visiting the stunning tropical destination of Belize, then The Great Blue Hole should really feature somewhere on your itinerary. As an avid scuba diver and into adventure sports, I knew diving The Blue Hole was pretty much at the top of my list.
But what is it really like to dive Belize Blue Hole? And more to the point, is going Blue Hole diving worth the price tag?
In this article, I’ll be giving you the lowdown on what it’s really like, including Belize Blue Hole diving requirements, what to expect on the day, other dive sites in the Belize barrier reef and why diving the Big Blue Hole comes with such a hefty fee. After all, the single-day excursion of diving the Blue Hole in Belize will set you back the best part of $400, I know I was apprehensive before signing up.
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Bucket List Dive; Belize Blue Hole - At a Glance
No time to read the whole article, but curious about diving in Belize and The Great Blue Hole? Then here’s a summary of what’s included. You can also download a quick reference guide, straight to your inbox, here.
What you can expect in this article...
So, grab yourself a brew and let’s find out more about the Belize Blue Hole tour and why, despite the price, it’s oh-so-worth-it.
Is this Belize scuba diving experience REALLY worth the $350 price tag?
You’re probably here because you’re wondering ‘Is scuba diving the Blue Hole worth it?’
True. You’ll be left with a $300-400 shaped hole in your pocket after scuba diving the Belize Blue Hole. That’s a big chunk of money just for a single day trip, but in a single word YES! It’s totally worth the price tag for the Blue Hole diving experience. Read on to find all the reasons why.
The Great Blue Hole, Belize: Some Useful Facts
The Blue Hole, Belize is a bit of a Marmite attraction, some people love it, others are nonplussed. Regardless of people’s opinions, scuba diving in the Great Blue Hole is an epic experience, if alone for some of these fascinating facts. True, you won’t see colourful fish or vibrant corals much beyond the perimeter, but there’s an abundance of reasons why this is the top place to dive in Belize.
- Although there are other dive destinations in the world to find Blue Holes aside from Belize the Blue Hole here is the biggest of its kind. This is officially the world’s biggest sinkhole.
- The iconic near-perfectly circular Belize landmark stretches a staggering 318 meters (approximately 1,043 feet) in diameter, with a depth of around 124 meters (approximately 407 feet) deep.
- The Great Blue Hole in Belize is situated in an area called Lighthouse Reef Atoll, approximately 96km (60miles) from Belize City.
- Lighthouse Reef is situated in the Caribbean Sea and is approximately 35km long and 8km wide.
- Lighthouse Reef contains both The Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye, both boast some of the best dive sites in Belize, as well as both, having UNESCO world heritage status.
Hopefully, you’re starting to understand why this is one of Belize’s top tourist attractions. Even if you aren’t (or people in your group aren’t) a qualified diver, you can still experience this iconic landmark, from both the air and water – where you could view it from the surface (there’s information on this in the FAQ section). Of course, the best way is under the waves on one of the Belize Blue Hole tours.
Where is the Great Blue Hole?
I mentioned in the previous section that The Great Blue Hole is located in Lighthouse Reef. But where is this reef? This reef sits in the Caribbean Sea, about 60miles to the east of Belize City.
This Belize Blue Hole Map will orientate you as to where the dive sites are in relation to San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye and Belize City on the mainland. The single-day Belize Blue Hole tour will include dives around the vicinity of The Blue Hole, although it will depend on the weather and dive conditions on each day.
You can download this map, a dive equipment checklist and information sheet straight to your inbox here.
Related article: Love Mayan temples? Take a day trip to Tikal Ruins, it’s right on the Belize/Guatemala border.
How much does it cost to do The Blue Hole dive?
Depending on a few variable things such as equipment hire and transfers, expect somewhere between a $300-400 shaped hole in your pocket. The Blue Hole Belize dive isn’t a cheap day out by any account. It is a big chunk of money to part with for a single day trip, especially if you’re used to travelling on a budget. I winced a little, as before arriving in Belize, I’d spend 2 weeks backpacking in Guatemala, and this was my entire budget there!
However, keep reading to learn why it was totally worth the price tag to dive The Blue Hole and where your money goes.
While you’re in the area, you might also love this snorkel trip.
So, why does it cost so much to do the Belize Blue Hole dive?
To do The Great Blue Hole dive, you need to get to Lighthouse Reef, which you saw on the map above, is a national park situated in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. It’s not close to anything. It’s a 2 ½ hour journey by boat to get there.
So when you book onto your Belize scuba diving tour, you’re in effect paying for over 5 hours’ worth of boat travel time to do the return trip. Add to that, the boat crew, divemasters, equipment, food and drink (which is in abundance) and more!
Belize is also a relatively expensive country, especially compared to Guatemala; Belize’s currency is based on the US dollar! In addition to that, a portion of your fee also goes towards the Park Entry to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. You can see how scuba diving Belize Blue Hole adds up.
Related article: Two Week Guatemala Itinerary.
What’s included when you book a diving in Blue Hole tour?
In a bit more detail, here’s a list of everything that was included on The Blue Hole tour, Belize. So although the price for the excursion is pricey, you do get a lot for your money.
- A full 12 hours excursion, this is a long day trip!
- Pick up and drop off at your hotel (find local hotels here)
- A massive buffet breakfast at the dive shop while the crew load the boat
- Fully equipped and comfortable boat to get you there and back.
- A 5-hour round trip, to get to the reef and then back again – that’s quite a lot of fuel.
- The crew to man the boat
- All your equipment
- Small dive groups – there’s a maximum of 4 people per Dive Master
- Three dives (just for perspective, a single dive in Belize from Caye Caulker or San Pedro costs around $50 a tank, if you’re planning on doing more diving, Belize isn’t the cheapest place in the world – you can, however, negotiate package deals for multiple days of diving).
- Although it will vary depending on daily weather conditions, the first is The Blue Hole, then two neighbouring sites – I did ‘Half Moon Quay Wall’ and ‘The Aquarium’.
- A huge lunch, and as much tea/coffee/soft drinks/snacks throughout the day.
- A visit to the Nature Reserve to see the Red Footed Boobies
- Unlimited rum punch at the end of the day for the long journey back to the mainland.
- Amazing memories of one of the top dive destinations in Belize and ticket off an epic bucket list experience.
Is it safe to dive the Belize Blue Hole?
As with all adventure sports, there’s an element of risk involved. This is no different. Naturally, you might be nervous about doing The Blue Hole dive, Belize does however have an excellent track record for health and safety.
The Belize Blue Hole dive is classed as a deep recreational dive; you’ll get to a depth of approximately 130 feet or 40m. Because of the depth of the dive, you will have very little ‘bottom time’. The dive is done with regular air, Nitrox wasn’t an option at my time of diving.
Another thing to consider is that you’re are fully insured for deeper dives such as Blue Hole Belize diving. As standard, most insurance policies will cover you to dive to a depth of 60 feet / 18meters. Read the small print to check! You’ll probably discover that you have to purchase a bolt-on to your standard policy to make sure you’re covered for a deeper dive. At the start of the day, the crew were checking our insurance policies to make sure we were insured to dive, – don’t forget to bring these documents!
If you’re not sure who to use, both True Traveller and World Nomads offer insurance for adventure activities like this. Their prices are very competitive as you only pay for the parts of the policy you need, including deep diving!
On the day, you’ll be put into groups with other divers of a similar ability and buddied up. There is a maximum of 4 divers per Dive Master. Because there is an element of risk with this dive, make sure you are following all instructions from your Dive Master carefully and attend each of the briefings before every dive.
The first stop of the day is diving The Great Blue Hole. Expect this dive to be done and dusted within about 35 minutes. That’s split into a relatively fast descent, short swim to the perimeter of the Blue Hole at approximately 12m deep at the drop-off, bottom time of about 10 minutes, ascent and safety stop. This will be the shortest and deepest dive of the day.
A note on dive computers when you’re diving Blue Hole
If you have a dive computer it will be going crazy on this dive, along with your computer, you’ll also hear constant beeping from everyone else’s. Your Dive Master will warn you about this during your briefing, they will say to be conscious of it, but essentially ignore the warnings; diving great blue hole is a bit of an exception to the normal rules!
Although I’d naturally always want to have longer bottom time, 10 minutes is all you get. It’s just enough time to see the awesome rock formations, which is the main feature of this dive.
Do I need to be PADI trained to dive the Blue Hole in Belize?
If you’re thinking of diving The Blue Hole, Belize you will need to have passed AT LEAST your Open Water certificate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be through PADI, it could be SSI, or any other official dive certifier, just as long as you are qualified to Open Water level.
To dive the Blue Hole, you do not need to have passed the Advanced or higher level dive certificate.
Although you could do this dive when you’re fresh off the blocks, it’s always sensible to have at least a few dives under your (weight) belt – ha-ha sorry. Just make sure you are 100% comfortable with the fundamentals of scuba diving.
As a recommendation, it’s probably sensible to complete either some deeper adventure dives or the Advanced Open Water certificate before The Blue Hole diving trip. And I know I mentioned it before, but I can’t stress enough, make sure your travel insurance covers you to do this deeper dive. The standard depth you’re insured for is around 60 feet/ 18metres.
Are there any other Belize Blue Hole diving requirements?
Apart from what I mentioned in the section above, which includes having a valid dive certificate and travel insurance, a few other rules for doing The Belize Blue Hole dive are that;
- Divers should be very comfortable with their gear.
- Divers should have a good level of buoyancy control.
- Divers should be able to equalize easily.
- Divers should have good physical health.
- Divers ideally should have dived within the last 6 months.
What can you see when you dive Blue Hole Belize?
If you’re expecting colourful corals and tons of aquatic life, then think again. The main reason for diving the Belize Blue Hole is to see the awesome rock formations and just marvel at the fact that you’re inside the world’s largest sinkhole.
Around the perimeter at the top of the hole, there are a few pretty reefs, this is where any snorkelers, who are on the boat, but aren’t part of the Belize Blue Hole scuba diving group will stay. Here, you’ll see colourful fish and reefs right up until the drop-off.
As a scuba diver, you’ll get to experience the whole awesomeness of the open beautiful blue abyss below you. This blue abyss goes down beyond visibility. Deep down into this massive ummmm.. blue hole. The sheer straight walls on the decent are a sight to be awed at; it’s downright impressive!
You’ll reach the bottom-most point of the dive at the alcove. The alcove is filled with stalactites, columns and rock formations from a bygone time when The Blue Hole was located above sea level. This is nature at its best. I guarantee you’ll be impressed and no picture or video can quite pay justice to how awe-inspiring it is to see first-hand.
Belize Blue Hole Diving – What Happens On The Day of the Dive, Hour by Hour
IMPORTANT! DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE YOUR LOGBOOK, DIVE CERTIFICATE & INSURANCE DOCUMENTS
5.20 am – Pick-up time
The hotel pick-up for diving Blue Hole, Belize starts early. Depending on where you are staying this will be either by a boat taxi or golf buggy. My accommodation was right on the waterfront, so I was picked up along with a few others, on the closest pier to us. (They will tell you when and where pick-up is when you book). I’m not an early riser, I’d go as far to say that I hate mornings, however, the reward for being up at this unsaintly hour is that you’ll probably catch a beautiful sunrise.
5.30 am – Breakfast is served!
Whether you’ve been picked up by taxi boat or golf buggy, you’ll get dropped at the main dive shop pier. This is where you’ll have to show your dive card or certificate, insurance and also where you’ll do the final check for any equipment you’ve hired. It can be a bit chaotic with lots of guests arriving, being checked off, equipment moving about and the crew loading the boat. However, while all this is happening, you’ll be fed an amazing buffet breakfast.
6.00 am – 1st leg of the journey
You’ll set off on the 2 ½ hour journey to Lighthouse Reef. A definite highlight with being up before the crack of dawn for diving. Belize Blue Hole tours start early, so you’ll get to watch the sunrise from the top deck over this vast expanse of nothing but the open sea. Pure bliss!
At some point during the outward journey, your Dive Master will confirm the group that you’re diving with, as well as buddy you up if you are solo.
They will also double-check your certification, check how much dive experience you have and generally get to know you a bit. You will also have your briefing on the boat on what to expect on the dive.
A NOTE ON SEASICKNESS
If you get travel sick take the tablets BEFORE you get on the boat. The first few minutes or so were relatively calm while we were protected by the shallow waters of the island but then it gets choppy out in the open sea. We had three puckers hanging off the back of the boat, ‘feeding the fish’ as we went.
8.30 am – Dive Site #1 – The Blue Hole
You’ll get some free time after your initial introduction to your Dive Master and group. Your Dive Master will tell you when to kit up. There are a lot of groups, so to give everyone space, you’ll kit up at intervals. When you’re kitted up, one dive group at a time are given the go-ahead to get in the water, regroup and descend. You’re all set for the number 1 Belize scuba dive experiences. I already wrote about what to expect when scuba diving Belize Blue Hole, so if you skipped that bit, scroll back up or click here.
9.15 am – Second breakfast & surface ‘tour’
On any of The Blue Hole Belize scuba diving tours, aside from the obvious dive aspect, the other thing you’ll do a lot of is eating! Our interval time is spent on the boat, sailing around the perimeter of The Blue Hole.
There are plenty of photo opportunities here. From sea level, you’ll see it as a slightly darker or lighter patch where the reef stops and the hole starts.
10.45 am – Dive Site #2 – Half Moon Caye Wall
After the ride around the perimeter of The Blue Hole, you’ll move over to your next dive site; Half Moon Caye.
Half Moon Caye Wall is a colourful dive with corals, rock formations and an abundance of fish to look at. Visually, this site is a much more typical experience of scuba in Belize. It’s also a much more characteristic dive in terms of bottom time. Some of my highlights of this dive were the Moray Eels and Caribbean Reef Sharks against the drop off wall!
12noon – Lunchtime on Half Moon Caye Reserve
After diving Half Moon Caye, you’ve guessed it, more food. Lunch is served on the idyllic tropical paradise of Half Moon Caye Reserve. Overall, your stop here lasts for about an hour.
This Caye was Belize’s first designated site for wildlife protection way back in 1928. It’s home to a huge colony of Red Footed Boobies and Frigate Birds. There is a look-out tower conveniently placed at nesting height where you are pretty much eye-to-eye with the birds. They are noisy and smelly but each with a cute ball of fluff in its nest.
Don’t forget to look down and watch your step! There are hundreds of cute Hermit Crabs wandering about. At first, you don’t notice them, but then the more you look you realise that the ground is crawling beneath you.
1.30 pm – Dive Site #3 – The Aquarium
After lunch, you’ll be back on the boat to head to the next dive site. We visited a site called The Aquarium, this is the third and final dive site on your Great Blue Hole, Belize diving day trip.
This dive site is similar to the one at Half Moon Caye, there is a ton of stuff to see here. As its name suggests, there will be plenty of pretty corals, rays, eels, along with a plethora of rainbow coloured vivid fish.
2.30 pm – Homeward Bound and Happy Hour
With the third and final site on your scuba diving in Belize Blue Hole experience done and dusted, you’ll start the long journey back to San Pedro. But first off, as if we hadn’t eaten enough during the day, and just in case we were hungry, out came the Snickers bars! My first chocolate since being away! one couple even smuggled out a second one (Myron & Danika, I’m talking to you!).
With the return of the puke-patrol hanging off the back end of the boat like on the morning ride out, the rest of us to get on with Happy Hour. Rum punch is served, sweet and sticky pineapple and Malibu (or their local equivalent of it) all served with plenty of ice. This perfect, welcome treat finishes the day off while you chat and mingle with your fellow Blue Hole diver mates, reminiscing about the most amazing dive experiences you’ve all just had.
The cocktails kept flowing, which certainly made the journey back go quick. Despite our cups being constantly refilled, it was questionable as to how much made it to our mouths! Trying to get said drink into your mouth while on a boat in choppy seas meant that most of us were covered in sticky rum and juice come the end of the journey. I’m pretty sure the boat deck got the lion’s share.
5 pm – Arrive back in San Pedro
As the sun sets, on the best scuba diving in Belize experiences, you’ll arrive back at the main dive shop where you started this morning, in San Pedro. Don’t forget to get your dive stamp to say you’ve done The Blue Hole Belize Dive. Your taxi-boat or golf buggy will be there waiting to take you back to your accommodation for the final journey of the most epic day.
Is the Belize Great Blue Hole diving experience worth $350?
YES YES YES! And another big fat YES!
The whole experience of scuba diving Blue Hole Belize was one of THE BEST things I did during my time in the country. There was nothing I could fault, from the professionalism of the crew, the quality of the dives, the sheer awesomeness and grandeur of getting to dive in The Great Blue Hole. Everything was outstanding.
Twin that with meeting a ton of like-minded, new friends who I shared this experience with, to seeing some beautiful aquatic life under and above the waves topped off with enough food to last me a week!
Overall, this is a fantastic action-packed day and in my opinion well worthy of the $350 price tag. If you’re in any doubt about it, don’t be. It’s amazing. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that undoubtedly should be on every scuba diver bucket list, as well as your Belize bucket list.
Related article: If you enjoy adventure travel in Belize, you’ll also love the ATM Caves expedition.
The Great Blue Hole Dive, FAQs
Where to stay in San Pedro
What things should I pack when I dive the Belize Blue Hole?
For any dive trips, Belize dive schools will always ask to see your certification, other essentials are a copy of your insurance policy and your dive logbook. All specialist dive equipment can be hired from the dive shops.
Personal items to bring are your swimwear, a towel, wind-break layer for interval times and a change of clothes.
You can download a handy dive packing list here.
One thing to be sure of is having a good mask, the dive company will supply you with one but a leaking mask is no fun. To ensure the best fit, you could always purchase your own mask. You also might find it useful to take a camera suitable for scuba diving.
What are the Belize blue hole diving requirements?
You must be at least Open Water certified if you’re thinking of diving Belize Blue Hole. Ideally, you’ll want to have completed a few dives so you’re familiar with how to set up equipment, be comfortable with using it, keep your buoyancy, and be able to equalise easily.
I write in a lot more detail here about all the requirements, as well as other useful things to know about diving The Blue Hole in Belize here.
How deep is The Blue Hole?
The Belize Blue Hole depth is in the region of 124 meters, which is approximately 407 feet deep. You can read more interesting facts about The Blue Hole, here.
Where can I find a Blue Hole Belize map?
There is a map at the top is this article that shows where the Blue Hole is located, as well as the other places I talk about in this article. Jump to it here. You can also download the map, a packing checklist and information sheet for offline viewing here.
How to get to Blue Hole Belize?
There are two ways to get to the Belize Blue Hole, either by boat or by plane.
When is the best time to dive in Belize?
Although you can dive in Belize all year round, the best time to dive Belize is between April and June. This is when visibility is at its best. Between June and October, you’ll hit the rainy season, which is best avoided as this can bring with it, poor visibility.
The dry season, which falls between June to October is also another good time to dive in Belize, however, this also coincides with the peak tourist season.
What’s the typical Blue Hole Belize diving price?
Expect to pay between $300-$400 for one of the full-day scuba dive Blue Hole Belize tours. This price varies slightly depending on your pick up point and any equipment (if any) you want to hire. I wrote in detail earlier in this post, everything that is included in the price. Click here to jump to the section.
How do I book a Great Blue Hole tour?
There are a string of companies offering Great Blue Hole diving on both Caye Caulker and San Pedro. I’m picky with which dive outfitters I choose and after entering several dive shops and reading reviews I chose Neptune’s Cove. There are loads of others.
There are dozens of Belize diving centres on both islands offering the Blue Hole Tour. Belize offers loads of world-class diving directly around the cost, however, only a small handful of companies run the tour which goes out to The Blue Hole. Even though all the dive shops will take bookings for the Blue Hole tour, they do it on behalf of another major company
There are non-divers in our group, can they do a Blue Hole snorkelling tour from San Pedro instead?
Yes, they can do a Blue Hole snorkelling tour from San Pedro. You don’t have to be a scuba diver to enjoy The Blue Hole. If there are non-divers in your group, they will have the option to snorkel around the reefs at each of the dive spots. They will be able to experience The Blue Hole, snorkelling around the reef laden perimeter.
Sometimes the boat will drop them off at a slightly different location, usually a shallower point in the reef, with a guide so they can enjoy seeing the marine life and corals from above.
Can I book the Blue Hole tour with other Belize dive packages?
Although the price is usually set for the full day Blue Hole tour, you can negotiate some very good deals with dive shops, especially if you’re interested in doing multiple days of diving or courses. My advice is to speak directly to the dive shops to see what each one will offer if you’re intending on diving the Blue Hole Belize along with other sites in the region.
I wanted to go diving around San Pedro, Belize for a few days before diving the Blue Hole, so I was able to negotiate a very good price on equipment hire. Although general scuba diving Belize prices vary, expect for two dives just off the shore to cost around $50 per tank. There are loads of great dive sites just off Ambergris Caye, these can be done through all the dive shops in San Pedro.
Other things to do in Belize
If you’re in Belize and love adventure, fancy yourself as a bit of an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, then you’ll absolutely love the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves (ATM Caves).
The ATM caves are as close to Indiana Jones or Lara Croft’s adventures as you can get, you’ll be crossing rivers, trekking through the jungle, deep into a river cave to see the stunning (and slightly creepy) calcified Crystal Maiden.
Find out more: ATM Caves expedition.
If you want to get your adrenalin pumping and to experience the Blue Hole from above, then check out skydiving Blue Hole Belize.
If you’re after aquatic pursuits then look into doing some of these great snorkelling tours from San Pedro and Caye Caulker.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more leisurely, then why not check out some things to do in Caye Caulker.
If you’re interested in adding more to your trip to Belize or nearby Guatemala and Mexico, you can check out these other great articles:
Final Thoughts on Bucket List Dive; Belize Blue Hole
I’ve you’ve made it to the end of this monster article, then well done! I hope I’ve given you a ton of insight into what it’s really like to dive the Belize Blue Hole, what to expect and why I do think it’s worth the price tag.
Although there are a ton of outstanding dive sites in Belize, scuba diving the Blue Hole should be top of your list if you want to experience one of the most mind-blowing dive sites in the world.
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If you’re thinking of booking diving in Belize Blue Hole, and there’s a question I didn’t answer, then drop me a message below.