Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a republic of Central America. Belize offers the longest stretch of coral in the western hemisphere and three of the four Caribbean atolls. Different parts of the Belize Barrier Reef appeal to divers, snorkelers and fishermen. Nestled between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast, Belize is one of the few remaining unspoiled places on Earth. Here scuba divers and snorkelers can explore hundreds of sites.
- Average Air Temperature: 71 – 87 F (22 – 30 C)
- Water Temperature: 73 – 84 F (23 – 28 C)
- Average Visibility: 65 – 165 F (20 – 50 m)
- Dive Types: deep dive (140 feet/43 meters), coral reef, atoll reef, patch reef, barrier reef, shark, steep wall, beginner, intermediate, technical
- Marine Life: manatees, whale sharks, nurse sharks, reef sharks, lemontip sharks, hammerhead sharks, a variety of rays, barracuda, grouper, parrot fish, angelfish, butterfly fish, clown fish, anemones, sponge corals, hard elkhorn and staghorn coral, gorgonian fans, and other soft formations that sway with the current.
Great Blue Hole of Belize
The Great Blue Hole is one of the most astounding dive sites on Earth. Its depth of water gives the deep blue color that causes similar structures throughout the world to be called blue holes. To recreational divers, the 400-foot (122-meter) hole may appear as a bottomless pit. Technical divers can descend beyond the typical 100-foot limit with specialized skills and equipment.
The walls are sheer from the surface down to a depth of 110 feet (34 meters). Stalactite formations appear at this depth. They angle back so divers can maneuver underneath the huge overhangs. The water is motionless in the Blue Hold. Visibility often approaches 200 feet (61 meters) as a noticeable thermocline approaches. The deeper waters of the Blue Hole have few signs of marine life, because little light reaches the depths of the hole. The shallow waters around the coral rim of the Blue Hole teem with sea life.
A blue hole is formed when a cavern roof collapses and is subsequently filled with water. Geological structures in the Great Blue Hole are important, because they formed when caverns were dry and above sea level. These holes provide evidence for the lowering of sea level during successive ice ages over several million years. The Great Blue Hole was established as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations due to its impressive appearance and historic origin. In 1972, Jacques Cousteau sailed his ship, the Calypso, to film the inner walls of the hole.