Sorry for the bad pun, but phrases like that are a dime a dozen in Belize. So as you may have guessed, after our time in Panama we headed over to Belize for the week, spending the majority of our time on the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.
If you’ve never been to these places, you may be surprised to here that the primary activity is… drinking! The main streets are littered with bars and restaurants that will gladly quench your thirst to your hearts content. Or, at least until 9 pm due to the country-wide curfew. So, while we spent many a hours wasting away at beach front bars, the real reason we came here was to dive the Blue Hole, since diving is (the other) major reason people come to these islands.
Jeiny and I arrived a day before Krista as she was being all classy a wedding in the US, so we followed along with what the good ‘ol boys did, drank
whiskey and rye lots of shots! We have both spent some time in the Caribbean and had experienced the joys of St. Lucia’s double strength rum. If you’ve never tried it, imagine how bad a normal shot tastes… then double it, because that bad boy is 80% alcohol (I am a mathematician, I know)! That 80% rum apparently wasn’t enough for Palapa, where we spent the first two days hanging out, because they had one that was 90% 😦. I can’t, in good faith call it rum because, let’s be honest, at 90% alcohol, there’s little room for anything else.
You might be asking how we discovered this atrocity to mankind, and the answer lies with Jeinosaur. The bar had a shot special – platters of 6 shots for 20
Bananas Belizian dollars (10 USD), and being the frugal backpackers we are, not ordering those would have been like losing money! So, at some point after numerous platters, Jeinosaur decided he wanted the bartender to make me the worst shot he could. After two attempts of what I came to assume was a lot of hot sauce mixed with tequila, he gave us this 90% horror. Being a purveyor of all experiences (good & bad), we shared this concoction with some of our newfound friends. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever had the displeasure of tasting. Naturally, I had three of them… And on that note, thank you, next!
Enough recanting of those shenanigans, though, time to get down to business – the Blue Hole! As its name suggests, it is a hole in the big blue that is known as one of the top two dive sites in the world (depending on which source you use). Having done a significant number of dives in places well regarded by the dive community, we had to give this site a shot. It’s about a three hour boat ride from Ambergris Caye. Luckily our dive shop, Amigos Del Mar, welcomed us bright and early with breakfast, coffee and an abundance of snacks throughout the journey. Upon arriving at the Blue Hole, you are… wildly underwhelmed compared to the photos you’ll have seen. This is because they’re taken 1000 ft+ in the air, which will show off the water depth / contrast much better than you can see from 10 ft off the water on a boat.
After getting our briefing and (dive) suiting up, we hit the water to begin our descent into the Blue Hole. The dive itself was neat, as you essentially swim over a wall into depths you can’t see the bottom of. The guides ‘only’ took us down to 130-140ft, and everyone’s computer started yelling that they were now doing a deco(mpression) dive.. naughty naughty!
Quick physics lesson – due to the depth, the air in your tank becomes further compressed so it doesn’t last as long as it would for shallower/normal dives. So before we knew it, we were back up on the surface, after a lengthy safety stop (safety first kids!). While inside there were bunch of Caribbean Reef sharks j chilling down there with us, but the highlight was really the massive stalagmites on the perimeter of the hole that you swim through.
Our second dive was on one edge of the reef, which had a great showing of sea life including sharks, eagle rays, and a turtle. From there, the boat dropped us off on an island, which is home to a redfooted booby community, for a tasty and well deserved lunch! Following the feast, we had a third dive on the other edge of the reef, which Jeiny had to skip due to his inability to man up (his tummy hurt after the big lunch). After the exhausting three dive day, we had a lovely three hour boat ride back to look forward to! Fortunately, they provided more snacks and bottomless rum punch, not to mention the captain let me DJ! We definitely opened their eyes to some new music 😉
So, what did I think of the Blue Hole? Honestly, I thought the dive was a solid dive, but nothing to write ‘top ten’ articles about. I definitely don’t understand its ranking as one of the best dive sites in the world. For me, I’d much rather dive the Galapagos or the Maldives again, or even Playa Del Carmen (during bull shark season). In fact, we all agreed the second dive was the best due to the sea life and interesting coral formations. But, all in all, it was definitely a trip I’m glad we did if for no other reason than to say that we’ve seen it, because it truly is a novelty!
That said, if you happen to be in Belize and are interested in seeing the Blue Hole, I would definitely say go for it, but wouldn’t go out of my way to check this one off the list. If you do go, we can’t recommend Amigos Del Mar enough. Outside of being the only company that does the tour (other shops sub-contract out to them), their crew is great, their service is top notch, and they take snorkelers as well, in case you don’t dive!
Now, it’s time to change up our travels a bit! After a quick pitstop back home, we head over to Europe, where I’ll be running the Rome Marathon before we settle in Split, Croatia for a month.
Peace out girl scouts!