Summer Adventure: The Great Blue Hole & Half Moon Caye

Summer Adventure: The Great Blue Hole & Half Moon Caye
Added Date
Friday, 2 Sep, 2022
Belizing Adventures
What better way to spend your summer than to go snorkeling at the Great Blue Hole and exploring the paradise island, Half Moon Caye? The Belizing Team had the opportunity to visit two of Belize's seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in just one day with the Belize Audubon Society!

It was my first time snorkeling…and I can’t swim. But that wasn’t an excuse because I was at the Great Blue Hole! This massive blue sinkhole has been a wonder emphasized in school lessons, text books and advertisements for as long as I could remember. And, I can’t believe that I got to visit this infamous natural monument. Many would travel far and wide to be able to experience the world class diving at the Blue Hole. Belize is listed as one of PADI’s top diving destinations in the world, with the Blue Hole as the most popular attraction.

We spent roughly about two hours in the San Pedro Belize Express charter boat with many other locals and visitors. Leaving Belize City, it took us around ten to fifteen minutes to go outside of the reef. Outside of the reef is where I got to see the Caribbean Sea changed its mosaic of turquois colors to deep, royal shades of majestic blues and violets. I was in awe of this shift in color as I’ve never been outside the reef. Luis mentioned that the shift in color is due to a larger depth in the sea grounds.

About forty-five to sixty minutes later, we were passing Turneffe Atoll. The Turneffe Atoll is one of three coral atolls off the coast of Belize, and one of only 4 coral atolls that exist in the western hemisphere (Belize has three of them). Here, I saw hills of mangroves as we traveled further. This reminded me so much of the distant views of hills and forests that I would see in town. It took us several minutes before we passed Turneffe Atoll.

Finally, we made it to the Blue Hole. Everyone in the boat was so excited to see what the Blue Hole looks like in person. Since we were in a boat on the water, we couldn’t see its circular shape and the shift in colors from outside ring of corals to the drop off in the middle. We were given a briefing about the site before we were able to get into the water.

The Blue Hole is not an underwater cave, but rather a dry cavern that collapsed and allowed waters of the salty sea to be filled in. It became a World Heritage Site under UNESCO on December 4, 1996. It is a cave due to the formation of stalactites along with the existence of other cave features.  The Great Blue Hole is a popular tourist and local attraction of Belize and one of UNESCO’s seven World Heritage Sites in the country. The Great Blue Hole, along with our next destination, Half Moon Caye, is co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society and the Government of Belize.

At the site, there was a boat by the name of Booby, where the park rangers, tour guides, and coast guards were standing. The tour guides and the rangers were there to assist the swimmers and snorkelers to make sure that everyone was having fun and out of immediate danger. We went over some of the signs to make sure that we are okay in the water. Note: A one hand wave does not mean, "Hi honey!". It means that you need assistance with your fins, mask, snorkel, or life jacket.

After the briefing, the passengers in the boat were split into two groups, swimmers and snorkelers. Those interested in getting in the water were to go to the back of the boat. Luis and I grabbed our gears and waited in line for our turn to get into the water. I was nervous and excited at the same time. Nervous because I don’t know how to swim. I wouldn’t want to be engulfed by the Blue Hole and drown in one of the most famous sinkholes in the world.
Luis jumped in the water first, I followed him. Unknowingly, we held on to our snorkels, masks and fins instead of putting them on while on the boat. We quickly put them on and started to swim around the area. The currents in the Blue Hole weren’t too strong, but if you didn’t paddle or kick your legs, it would take you further away from the crowd – which is not recommended.

I pulled the mask down my face and attached the snorkel to its side. I put my face down into the water and it was interesting to see what’s under the sea. The view above the water is amazing. But, once your face is immersed under water, you see a whole other world. I started to sing the song, Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid movie, in my head.

After snorkeling on my own for about three minutes, I joined a group for a guided tour of the coral patches around the Blue Hole. We went by the dark patches where colorful corals formed and fishes of all shapes, sizes and colors swam. I even got to see Dory from Finding Dory! There were so many species of fishes that we saw. We saw parrot fishes, butterfly fishes, groupers, and many others that can’t recall the names of. The corals were simply beautiful. Since the coral patches are close to the surface, the sunlight reflected by the sea surface made the coral dazzle under water.

I suffer from astigmatism, but the clarity of the view that I got was still breath-taking! We snorkeled for about ten minutes with our guide before heading back up to the boat. It was amazing! And, I’m glad to say that my first time snorkeling was at the Great Blue Hole. How’s that for bragging rights?

Half Moon Caye

After everyone got out of the water and back in the boat. We headed to our next destination of the day, Half Moon Caye. It didn’t take us too long before we got there – it was about fifteen to twenty minutes. When we arrived, we were given another briefing about the island, along with the rules of being on Half Moon Caye.

We have made it to paradise! Half Moon Caye is the other World Heritage Site that the Belize Audubon Society co-manages. It became protected in the year 1982 and it is the first marine protected area in Central America. One of the reasons why it became a protected is because of the Red-footed Booby Birds.

The boat parked at the dock and one by one we exited the boat. Earlier, at the water taxi terminal, we were each given a Belize World Heritage Site passport. Here, we got our passports stamped to mark the sites that we have visited.

Luis and I found a picnic table where we had lunch before exploring the island. We had the options on going on a snorkeling tour or a bird tour – we opted for the bird tour since we’d already gone snorkeling.

All those who were interested in the bird tour gathered together before entering the trail. There were two guides that assisted us on the tour. On the trail, we saw many iguanas – some about the size of a Komodo dragon –, hermit crabs, Frigate Birds and, of course, Red-Footed Booby Birds.

We were taken up a bird tower to see colonies of Frigate Birds resting on treetops and soaring high up in the sky. Our guide also showed us the tree where a flock of Boobies Birds were just relaxing. The tree was just branches with no leaves but the amount of birds on that tree was incredible! I asked our guide, "Why that specific tree?", and he said that he wasn't sure why the Booby Birds liked to stay on that tree.

After taking a few pictures of the tree and all the birds, we continued down the trail to Sunset Beach. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay late enough to capture the sunset since we had to leave the island at 3:00 PM. The beach was beautiful, alike the rest of the island. Away from civilization, we were able to appreciate nature at its best.

Having the warm sea breeze blowing against our skin was relaxing, too relaxing that we didn’t want to leave. We spent around fifteen minutes at Sunset Beach before going back to the boat.

This experience at the Great Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye was indeed a memorable one. We had a great time snorkeling at the Blue Hole and an even greater time exploring Half Moon Caye. Props to the Belize Audubon Society for organizing this summer event. If you are not a member of the Belize Audubon Society, we encourage you to become a member. You will get to be a part of exciting trips like this one and you will be supporting the conservation and protection of our natural resources. Let’s go Belizing with the Belize Audubon Society!
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Author Name:
Angela Wu
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Departs From:
Belize City
See the world-famous Great Blue Hole in the best way possible … from the air with our Blue Hole Aerial Tour from Belize Concierge Excellent in Belize City. Hop on board a Piper Pa-32 ... moreCherokee Six and fly to Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and witness This natural wonder of the world. On the way, you will see the Belize Barrier Reef (the longest in the Western Hemisphere), and Turneffe Atoll. While flying over the largest sea-hole in the world, keep an eye out for various sea wildlife such as Manatees, Rays, Sharks, Dolphins, and much more!!

This is a 1-hour tour that departs from the Belize City Municipal Airport to fly over the Blue Hole and returns.
**Kindly make booking request 1-week prior to your requested Tour Date to ensure availability of seats**
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Departs From:
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)
The Blue Hole, located in the center of Lighthouse Reef Atoll is a 1000-foot circular coral reef that drops over 400 feet into an incredible cavern. It is filled with stalactites and ... moreawe-inspiring natural formations. Half Moon Caye and the Aquarium/Eagle Ray are teaming with marine life and numerous varieties of colorful corals like sponges, fans, and gorgonians.

The day starts off as early as 6:00 am, departing from our dive center and returning later in the evening at 5:30 pm. We make sure everything is in place; gear, breakfast, lunch, and refreshments. We want you to have the time of a lifetime on our full-day dive package, which is why we make sure you have a safe and successful day. We prioritize our customers and make sure they are satisfied to the max in every way possible.
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Departs From:
Caye Caulker
1 hr 25 minutes flying the Blue Hole. There are 3 seaters, 5 seaters, and 7 seaters available
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Hi there, what company did you use for your snorkeling trip?