Posts Tagged ‘blue hole’
Pleasure Under the Waves
If you’re planning a trip to any tropical destination, a scuba diving excursion should be a firm fixture of your itinerary. Warm-water locations just beg to have their undersea panorama explored at length, and there’s no better way to soak in the grandeur of the planet’s oldest habitat than with an air tank on your back, affording you hours to just swim and take it all in. If you’ve never dived before, you’ll need a short training and certification course before you go, but the small expense and time spent on this is well worth the cost, considering the bounty of ocean life and amazing vistas you’ll glimpse at depths that far exceed the reach of snorkelers hanging close to the surface. Almost anywhere you’d want to dive, you’ll be able to find a reputable dive shop that offers training courses designed to keep you safe during your excursion under the waves.
Belize’s Great Blue Hole
One of the most popular and renowned diving locations on earth can be found off the coast of Belize. Surrounded by tropical reef, the Great Blue Hole is a diving experience unlike any other you’re likely to encounter. Viewed from the air, the hole looks like a period in the middle of Lighthouse Reef, which lies about 70 kilometers from Belize City. A sinkhole 300 meters wide and almost 125 meters deep, the Great Blue Hole is essentially a vertical cave that, while it won’t take you twenty thousand fathoms down, will afford some of the most spectacular views of marine life available anywhere in the American tropics. Made of karst limestone, it is the largest and most impressive of several such formations, called Cenotes, that exist in the Caribbean amidst crystal-clear waters, affording scuba-diving enthusiasts a rare opportunity to see the unfiltered depths, like an elevator ride to the bottom of the sea. The Hole is so deep, in fact, that it’s blue color comes not from any impurities in the water, but from a trick of the light. The water near the hole is quite shallow and it’s bottom can be easily seen, but the light reflecting off the pure white sand at the hole’s terminus creates the illusion of a dark blue dot in the middle of a turquoise field.
Making the Monster
The Hole was formed, according to scientists, during ice ages, when worldwide glaciation lowered sea levels dramatically. Exposed to the erosive elements of wind and rain, the caves formed over a period of tens of millennia, and when the ice melted and the seas returned, the roof eventually caved, exposing the underwater pit and inviting in any creature capable of penetrating its depths. A bevy of amazing wildlife can be glimpsed on a trip to the Hole, including giant groupers, reef sharks, and even hammerheads. If you’re headed to the vicinity of Central America, don’t omit a stop in Belize to check out the Great Blue Hole. Even if you’ve never dived before, you’ll need only a few days to get certified and in the water. Most dive trips to the Hole are full-day affairs with at least three dives in various locations. What better way to inaugurate yourself into the community of divers than by tackling one of the planet’s most spectacular underwater sights?
Belize City. Most people picture run down buildings, crime and remnants of hurricane damage. Very few take anytime to actually explore the town instead choosing to hop on a water taxi and head out to Ambergris Caye.
Whatever your vision of Central America is, check it at the door before entering this beautiful and welcoming country. Many travel guides will tell you to “get out of Belize City and head for the islands.” It is too bad really, because they are causing people to miss out on meeting the very proud and helpful citizens of this vibrant town.
Belize City is actually a port on many cruise liners itinerary. However, most passengers either spend their time shopping in the terminal or hop on a tour to explore other parts of the country. Where the cruising crowd doesn’t exactly have the time to explore the area, a traveler should definitely take a walk to get a feel for the Caribbean City.
Settled by the English in the late 16th century, Belize City is a mix Colonial buildings and Creole Culture. Eat international cuisine, or enjoy the local fare at Jembel’s Jerk Pit or Big Daddy’s Diner. Music pumps from inside shops as smiling people great you speaking perfect English, only to turn to their companion and talk in rhythmic Creole. The official language of Belize is English, but you will often hear a mix of Spanish, Creole, Mayan and German throughout the land.
Now that you have actually explored Belize City and realized that it isn’t the big bad city that you thought it was, you can catch a water taxi with peace of mind. You aren’t running away from anything, you are simply moving on to see the rest of beautiful Belize. From downtown, you can catch a water taxi for $10 to take you out to the Cayes on the Caribbean Sea.
The laid-back vibe of the island has an air of Jamaica, and reggae booms from bars and restaurants. Walk along the dirt roads to look for a beach front hotel and you can spend as little as $20 for a room. Only golf carts drive on the island, so you won’t have to worry about exhaust pollution or noise. The resident’s work hard to preserve their culture and large-scale development is not in its future.
While there, you have to take in the sites and the number one excursion is to hire a guide and boat to take you out to Shark Ray Alley. Located 1 mile from shore is the Belize Barrier Reef. A protected marine preserve for since 1996, it has a healthy stock of marine life and coral. The highlight of the trip however is having the chance to swim with a group of nurse sharks and manta rays that inhabit the reef.
For experienced divers, The Blue Hole is not to be missed. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau, dive 150 feet into this collapsed cave as sharks circle above the hanging stalactites. If you are not already a diver, take an open water diving course.
You don’t just have to go out to the Cayes to dive and snorkel. Sail boat trips are popular as well. There are several places to go to and why not explore some of the other surrounding islands. Walk down the main dirt road of Caye Caulker and you will find companies offering up excursions and ideas.
Dining is high on everyone’s list when traveling and Caye Caulker has its fair share of restaurants. There is jerk chicken, fresh seafood and western flare. After dinner stop in at a beach bar and enjoy a cocktail as you look out over the Caribbean Sea. You won’t find crazy nightclubs, but you will find a great bar to listen to music while you relax in the islands.
There is so much more to do in beautiful Belize that you need at least two weeks to see it all. Jungles and caves, wildlife and sanctuary’s Belize has something for everyone. Even Mayan ruins can be found in the country and beaches aren’t only out on the islands, Placencia actually has the most beautiful beach in the country and it is located on the mainland.
It won’t take long until development catches hold in Belize and it turns into another Cancun. Unfortunately, that is the way of the world. So don’t wait, visit Belize today and get to know the people of this laid back country filled with beautiful scenery and breathtaking views.