On June 22, 2018, Travel and Leisure magazine published an in-depth article on the mysterious Great Blue Hole, a natural landmark located off the coast of Belize that is easily identifiable from space. According to Travel and Leisure, the Great Blue Hole looks like “a portal to another world.”
Indeed, the unique features of this strange, perfectly circular body of deep blue water are why people come from around the world to dive its mysterious depths. Situated some 43 miles (69 km) off the coast, the Great Blue Hole is encircled by the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and measures over 1,000 feet (300 meters) across.
But it’s not the strange blue waters that are several shades darker than the surrounding Caribbean which make the Great Blue Hole such a popular tourist destination. Measuring more than 400 feet (120 meters) deep, the gothic underworld beneath the water’s surface contains a vast cave system that was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago.
At the end of the last great Ice Age, the rising waters of what is now the Caribbean Sea swallowed up this cave system that now lies at the bottom of the Great Blue Hole. Unlike other popular nearby dive sites in Belize where visitors are surrounded by schools of colorful fish, very few marine creatures aside from the odd hammerhead shark call the Great Blue Hole home. But it’s not for the wildlife that divers come here, but rather to explore this ancient and spooky underwater labyrinth.
The Great Blue Hole was known to local fishermen in Belize since time immemorial, but it was the arrival of legendary marine biologist Jacques Cousteau in 1971 that put this unique dive spot in the limelight. After Cousteau and his team explored the area, he declared it to be one of his all-time favorite dive sites on the planet. Yet even the experienced French explorer found diving the Great Blue Hole a challenge due to its low visibility and seemingly endless passages and tunnels.
According to Travel and Leisure magazine, the Great Blue Hole is not actually a gateway to a parallel universe. Certainly though, many experienced divers believe it to be a world apart. Many divers have reported a feeling of having transcended time and space while in the Great Blue Hole due to the eerie quiet and spectral visions that haunt this underwater landmark.