Ultimate Diver’s Bucket List: The Great Blue Hole, Belize

Belize is home to some of the best diving locations in the world, with the second largest Great Barrier Reef, just after Australia. Divers visit Belize all throughout the year to experience a little bit of their underwater heaven and to have a unique experience that only Belize can offer.

Before arriving, I had written out a special bucket list just for scuba diving. I quickly freshened up on my skills and was more than ready to explore the diving spots across the country.

At the top of my diving bucket list was the Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef.

This is one of the most unique places on Earth, that leaves people amazed at the mystery of this massive hole. One of the most interesting things about this site is that it’s an almost perfect circular hole that is more than 412 feet deep and 300 feet across and can see be seen from space!

During my very last week in Belize, I took a boat out to Ambergris Caye to Sunbreeze Hotel, where I spent 4 lovely days and prepared for my dive to the Great Blue Hole.

My dive was organized by Patty at Splash Diver Center in Placencia who connected me with Los Amigos Dive Shop. Given that this is a risky dive, it’s very important to go into the experience with a peace of mind by choosing a reputable and professional dive operator, that actively keeps their dive equipment properly maintained.

The morning of my dive, I was picked up from the Sunbreeze Hotel at 4:30AM and taken to the dive shop. Once we arrived, we did our paperwork, picked up our gear and had a light breakfast before getting on the boat.

One of the most important things to do before going on this dive is to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into before going. The boat leaves at 5 o’clock in the morning and the ride takes about three hours just to get out to the Blue Hole.

In the case of bad weather, the dive might be canceled, while in other cases you might be in for a very rough ride. If you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to take medicine to prevent an unfavorable situation.

On my boat, we had about 25 people going out that day. About two hours into the ride, seasickness started to take over as the wind and waves increased. The helpful staff had smiles on their face as they helped assist the white as sheep divers as they got sick. Luckily I was not one of them.

The boat started to decelerate the closer we arrived and the seasickness let up. As we approach, we were given a small briefing on what to expect and we began to gear up.

Although I had been diving since I was 16 years old, I was still nervous about the dive and could feel the adrenaline pumping more than ever.  This was the furthest that I had ever gone down and to make matters worse, I was totally congested.

Realizing that I wanted to face my fear, I geared up, held my mask tight and flipped backwards into the water. As we were descending I was surprised to not even see a single form of life all around me. The further we went down, the more I could feel my chest get heavier and the coolness enter into my thick wetsuit.

My breathing began to be slower and more difficult, but with a focused mind, I continued my descent. Before I knew it, I looked down at my gauge and noticed that we had finally reached 140 ft (42 meters), which was the maximum that we would be going.

The experience felt so surreal, especially with all of the funky rock formations all around me. I felt almost as if I was having an out of body experience and that’s when my mind started to take over. A sensation of sheer panic took over me, something I had never felt in all of my years diving.

From the very first day I did my first dive, I had learned that the number one rule in every situation is to always stay calm and focused. I regained composure, took a deep breath and focused my mind back on the amazing adventure that I was having.

Time quickly passed and we had to ascend back up, allowing ourselves more than 15 minutes to get to the top in order to prevent decompression sickness. A smile took over my face as I saw the light shining down on the ocean, realizing that I had successfully faced my fear and made it to the end.

What an accomplishment!

Tips and Useful information:

1. Take the safety precautions very carefully. If you went out drinking the night before your dive, cancel and plan for another day. If you feel sick or dehydrated, listen to your body and wait. Stubbornness can lead to major problems and even death. Don’t ignore the warning signs.

2. Plan your travels accordingly. After your dive, you need a minimum of 24 hours before flying on an airplane. Don’t expect to dive in the morning and fly internationally that following evening. My diver master told me personal horror stories of divers that chose to ignore the rules and fly.

3. Understand Nitrogen Narcosis: Nitrogen narcosis is an altered state of mind that happens when you breathe nitrogen at high partial pressure. As you descend, a sense of drunkenness may take over you for a few minutes. For the inexperienced divers, this feeling could lead one to feel panic, but this sensation will only last a couple of minutes.

4. Invest in a underwater camera or GoPro. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so get some good pictures and make memories that will last for a lifetime.

Don’t forget to also read

HOW TO DEAL WITH TRAVEL BURN OUT

LIMESTONE POOLS & EXPLORING CAVES: SEMUC CHAMPEY, GUATEMALA

7 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE FLUENTLY

 

 

adminUltimate Diver’s Bucket List: The Great Blue Hole, Belize