Looking for yet another thing to add to your travel bucket list? The Great Blue Hole is a must-see spot, being the crown jewel of beautiful Belize for good reason. This aptly-named phenomenon in the UNESCO-protected Belize Barrier Reef is exactly what it sounds like: a huge blue hole, more than 300 metres wide with a 400 foot drop into the depths of the sea.
Scuba enthusiasts from around the world come to explore the diving hole in the former limestone cave system, which is now a series of underwater caves and passageways. But there’s only one way to get a true appreciation for this natural wonder: a scenic fly over of the Great Blue Hole.
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A few operators in Belize offer this unforgettable excursion, including Tropic Air which has Great Blue Hole tours departing from Belize City and San Pedro. The airline uses different planes depending on how many passengers they’re chartering, with group sizes ranging from as few as three people on their Model T182T Skylane jet, to 14-seaters on busier days.
From San Pedro, the hour-long tour starts by heading east over the reef (which looks remarkably similar to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), passing over Turneffe Atoll where the stunningly-blue water catches the sunlight and sparkles below. As the sea is so clear, those with good eyesight and a little luck on their side might be able to see rays, sharks or dolphins swimming around.
After about 20 minutes of peacefully gliding through puffy white clouds and staring out in wonder at the spectacular scene dotted with blindingly-white sandbars, the Great Blue Hole finally comes into view as the plane hovers over Lighthouse Reef. And it’s a sight that’s sure to leave everyone on-board mesmerized.
Tropic Air’s pilots make about a dozen loops around the Great Blue Hole, to ensure passengers on each side of the plane have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the birds-eye view and snap plenty of photos. Chances are there will be a dive boat anchored nearby since this is one of the most beautiful dive sites in Belize, and perhaps even another bright white plane soaring below. While divers have the advantage for exploring inside the Great Blue Hole (making this one of the world’s top dive sites), when it comes to grasping the magnitude of the underwater spectacle a scenic flight or helicopter ride is best, no contest.
Tours end with a few circles over a nearby shipwreck, before heading back across the reef and enjoying a sky-high perspective of the colourful island of San Pedro, just before the plane touches down on the tiny runway. When it comes to unforgettable travel experiences, a scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole is hard to beat.
Globe Guide experienced a scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole as a guest of Tropic Air. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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