Monday 25/6 Blue Hole for Diving!

Up nice and early today as we had a 5am start at the dive shop ready for breakfast and to head out to the Blue Hole! There were a couple of girls from my dorm who were also going on the dive so we headed down together to the dive shop. After a nice breakfast of eggs, toast and fruit, it was quickly on to the boat and off – out to the far of Lighthouse Reef, where the Blue Hole is located. The boat ride was EXTREMELY rough – and a few of us had quite a bit of fun getting soaked up on the top deck with the Captain of the boat and generally hanging on for dear life! After about an hour we arrived at the midway point – the Turneffe Reef where I had been diving the day before. After another hour of rough chop we had finally made it to the Blue Hole! Not that it was immediately obvious, it just looked like any other part of the ocean. Before we really had time to look around above the surface, we had our wetsuits and kit on and were in the water ready to begin our epic 40m 26 minute dive down into the depths of the great blue hole. My first thoughts as we descended to the sandy bottom at the edge of the blue hole were – the visibility is terrible and the dive was going to be horrible! But boy was I wrong! Once the group had descended, we headed into the blue hole proper. You could tell we were in the Blue Hole because suddenly the ground just dropped away! The Blue hole is a sink hole which is about 100m deep – so there was just an eerie blackness below us which was a very strange feeling! The visibility, as I said, wasn’t amazing, but it was good enough to see, as we descended to about 24m, a number of huge sharks circling! This was my first glimpse of the Carribean Reef Shark and they were huge! The reef sharks like to hang out in the cooler waters of the Blue Hole, even though there aren’t any other fish in there for them to feast on. The sharks just kept wanting to play, circling us as we made our way down the limestone wall at the edge of the blue hole to our maximum depth of 40 metres. It was dark and cold down there, but suddenly the limestone stalactites loomed out of the darkness. We just had enough air to make a swim through the stalactites before making our way back up to shallower waters. It was an intense and very interesting dive in many aspects and one of my favourite dives ever – those sharks!

Once we were back on board we were able to get some photos of the Blue Hole structure from above – although the best way to get pics is by flying over it in a plane. We next made our way to our second dive site which was called Half moon caye. This dive site was just beautiful! The coral was in pristine condition and the sharks were again out to play! We saw scores of fish including some big schools which we were able to swim right through! We saw sting rays – and right near the end of the dive I was able to chase after a huge eagle ray flying lazily through the water like a bird! 

After the second dive it was time for lunch. We stopped off at half moon caye where there was a picnic area we could use to eat a delicious lunch that the chef employed by the dive school had prepared. It was all very fancy! After lunch we took a nature walk on the island to look at some red-footed boobys who were nesting in the trees. We also saw a number of iguanas and some huge hermit crabs! 

The third dive was called “the aquarium” and I could immediately see why! The corals on this dive were so flowery and colourful – we were closer to the surface so the colours really came out! We meandered along a coral wall and were followed for a large part of the dive by a very inquisitive moray eel! This was a real thrill because usually these eels are comfortably ensconced in a coral wall and we can only see their heads! We also saw some lobster and multitudes of fish on this dive. It was the perfect end to the perfect day of diving!  In addition, the ride back to Caye Caulker was much smoother and enjoyable. We kept our eyes open for dolphins and manatees but unfortunately we didn’t see any. 

We arrived back at the dive shop just in time for beers. The place to go on the island (for backpackers) is called “the spit”. It is on an area that used to be joined with the north side of the island but now there is a narrow channel that allows boats to cross. This change in the island was due to large hurricane they experienced a number of years back. Now the spit has been built up as a bar and deck area where you can have cheap drinks and watch the sun set in the west. I had some pretty horrible tasting Gin and Tonics for about $3:50 each. We had lobster at an eclectic place called “Wish Willies” and then it was time for bed after an exhausting but amazing day!