The Great Blue Hole is one of the most iconic landmarks in Central America drawing thousands of tourists to Belize every year. If you are interested in traveling to Belize; experiencing the Great Blue Hole in one way or another is an absolute MUST-DO! Keep reading for all the essential factors you need to know about choosing a tour and making it fit your budget.
The Great Blue Hole is essentially a giant sinkhole off the east coast of Belize. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a ring-shaped coral reef about 70 km from the mainland. The hole is circular in shape, 318 meters across and 125 meters deep. It is also a part of the Great Belize Barrier Reef which is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site was made famous by Jacques Cousteau who named it one of the top 5 diving sites in the entire world.
How To Get There
Most travelers arrive in Belize City by airplane or by bus from a neighboring country. If you are planing to visit Caye Caulker or San Pedro, it would be best to book your tour once you arrive on the island. There are three types of tours that will take you to the Blue Hole: scuba diving (boat), helicopter, or airplane. Although tours depart from multiple places throughout the country; we found Caye Caulker to be the quickest and most inexpensive option.
The flight is about an hour long and offers incredible views of the Great Barrier Reef. The pilot of our 5 passenger plane circled the Belize Blue Hole multiple times before returning to the airstrip. This allowed passengers on both sides of the plane to have a clear view and offered plenty of time for photos and videos. TIP: If the opportunity comes up, make sure you snag the front seat beside the pilot!
If you`re interested in a helicopter tour, Astrum Helicopter Tours is one of the most popular companies in Belize. The flight is longer and more expensive than with a plane but there are a few advantages to this option. First of all; you are able to fly much lower and hover in one place on a helicopter, which ultimately makes it the best way to view the Great Blue Hole. You also have the option to leave right from Belize City and you’ll fly over an old ship wreck site!
Scuba Diving the Great Blue Hole is a classic bucket list adventure but to be honest… it wasn`t our first option. The wildlife, corals, and clarity in the Great Blue hole aren’t great and it`s actually considered more of a technical cave dive. Belize has many superior dive spots that we would suggest over this one. On the bright side, if you do decide to try it, you get to say that you dove in the Great Blue Hole and schooling reef sharks are commonly seen here.
Another reason we opted out of the dive was the length of time it takes to arrive by boat. You are gone from 5 AM till dark and most day tours offer 3 dives spread out through the day. If you`re a serious diver and this is bumming you out, you might really enjoy a live-aboard instead! There are many options ranging from 3-8 days and that way you’ll be able to explore the entire reef system along the coast of Belize.
If your a budget traveler, viewing the Great Blue Hole from an airplane will be the most inexpensive option. Prices fluctuate based on the amount of passengers on board and the departure location. As a point of reference, if a full plane is booked (5 passengers) from Caye Caulker, you’re looking at around $185 USD per person. We had a great experience through Tsunami Adventures! Splurging for the helicopter tour will definitely offer the the best views but you will be spending approximately $450 USD per person. The scuba prices can fluctuate based on the amount of dives and departure location, but you can expect to pay at least $500 USD for three dives.