Diving the Great Blue Hole and Belize Barrier Reef

The legendary Great Blue Hole has been on nearly every diver’s bucket list since it was made famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s. This collapsed cave, or sinkhole, lies within the Lighthouse Reef atoll about 70 km (43 miles) from mainland Belize and is so enormous it can be seen from space—it may even explain what happened to the ancient Maya.

From our base in Xcalak, only 5 km (3 miles) from the border, our sister company XTC Dive Center runs a water taxi service to San Pedro, Belize, and we can easily organize Belize diving or snorkeling trips and extensions. Located on the southernmost tip of Ambergris Caye, San Pedro is the second largest town in Belize, a hub for diving the Great Blue Hole and Belize Barrier Reef.

The Belize Barrier Reef, a 300-kilometer section of the Mesoamerican reef system, is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and second largest in the world. It is also, arguably, one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, though only about 10 percent of it has been studied to date. Most of the reef is protected under the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it provides a critical habitat for a number of species including the manatee, the American crocodile and several types of sea turtles.

Belize is also diverse above the water—known for pristine rainforests, white sand beaches, well-preserved archeological sites, a multicultural population and a laid-back tropical vibe.

To dive the Great Blue Hole, we will arrange for you to arrive in Belize the day before diving to clear immigration and customs. One popular option we offer is to dive in Xcalak in the early morning, head to Belize after lunch, check into the hotel in San Pedro and relax for the rest of the afternoon. The next day, you catch the boat to the Blue Hole at 6:00 a.m., and return to San Pedro between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. for a second night there. On the following day we arrange two local dives, then check out and head back to Xcalak by boat.

This example is the shortest Belize itinerary we offer; it can be extended to include more days in San Pedro and/or the Great Blue Hole, as well as other destinations in Belize.