Scuba Diving Half Moon Caye and The Blue Hole, Belize

Frenchies Diving is the only scuba company you should use to dive the Blue Hole Natural Monument when staying in Caye Caulker. They leave the earliest, get their first and have the best trained instructors.

The day started off with a 5am wake-up-call. I walked in the dark up the beach to the Frenchies office where they had coffee, fruit and cinnamon rolls for people to snack on for breakfast. I watched the sun rise over the ocean as the instructors moved out oxygen tanks onto the boat. The boat ride from Caye Caulker to The Blue Hole is around two hours. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 70 km from the mainland and Belize City. The hole is circular in shape, over 300 meters across and 124 meters deep. Once we had passed the reef surrounding the Caye the open ocean got very rough. It was actually at time just as bad and nauseating as a monster roller coaster. We were airborne often and many people (including myself) grabbed onto their seat and closed their eyes in an attempt not to fall ill.

If you’re a diver, you’re not leaving Belize without diving the The Great Blue Hole. This site was made famous by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world. From the air, the round patch of dark blue waters surrounded by shallow turquoise sea looks unbelievable. It was formed when the roof of a limestone cave system collapsed during the ice age. A natural phenomenon as it is,  submerging as deep as 45m amongst stalactites is wild. I was a bit nervous to say the least as I hadn’t done a dive in over two years when I was at the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns Australia. The deepest dive I had ever done was 20 meters, so the notion of going down as deep as 45 was a bit daunting. I was hoping to God that my ears would properly equalize so that I could get down deep enough to swim inside the stalagmite caves at 42m. It took me a few minutes to equalize to 20 meters. I was at the end of the group and getting a bit panicked. A dive instructor waited for me patiently as my ears slowly started to cooperate with me.

Once my fear of actually blowing up my ear drums was set at ease I soon realized the reality of my situation. I was now 45 meters under the water in complete darkness with about twenty sharks circling around a few feet away. I would have bit my lip if I could, instead I clenched my jaws against my breathing apparatus and tried not to look directly in the eyes of the shark. I weaved in and out of the caves where really were beautiful. The setting was so dark and magical. Many people actually start to go a bit nutty in the head when they are down that deep. Many divers report feeling as though they have had three or four beers. Their brains go a bit manic under all that water.

I was so happy after I rose back to the surface of the water. I felt a great sense of accomplishment after diving The Great Blue Hole successfully without being eaten by a shark, ears burst or having my brain explode. Everyone was a bit alarmed when we came to the surface as a woman from Santiago Chile was breathing from an oxygen tank. Apparently she had panicked deep under water and choked on ocean water.

We then drove to our second dive location, Half Moon Caye Wall which had dense coral and colourful coral and fish. After our second dive we hopped back on the boat and docked for lunch at the Half Moon Caye beach. We enjoyed a bottle of Fanta and plate of rice, beans and cajun chicken. I was burning up bad as the heat was severe so I walked onto the island to eat under a palm tree. My lips tasted like sea salt and my fingers were all wrinkled from being in the water so much that morning.

Our final dive of the day was at The Aquarium at Long Caye Wall where we saw a great quantity and variety of fish and turtles with spectacular coral. After popping out of the water for the last time I was rather exhausted. My ears were sore from the pressure they had been experiencing and my body was a bit like a noodle from activities of the day. We all removed our tanks and relaxed for the two hour drive back to Caye Caulker.

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