Diving Belize’s Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef Atoll

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Of all the activities and corners of Belize I’ve experienced for the past three years, I never made it to the great Blue Hole. Finally, a few days ago, I had the amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. I actually gasped at 120 feet when I first saw the massive cave formations to my left and passed through them, not to mention the reef sharks. A humbling moment, to say the least–I felt like just a tiny being in the grand spectrum of God’s amazing creations.

Beyond that, the two additional dives – at Half Moon Caye, also part of Lighthouse Reef atoll and a World Heritage Site – and Long Caye Aquarium, were excellent.

I hadn’t gone diving since I was certified last year with Splash Dive Center in Placencia, but I was just fine after a refresher. Even though the Blue Hole is an advanced dive, it wasn’t that difficult and I was less nervous thanks to my divemaster who stayed near >> me and ensured I was fine.

We had a wonderful group of divers — mostly Israelis, New Zealanders, and Italians (including two who were divemasters themselves) and, one Jamaican (Kingstonian to be exact)! Renee is visiting from Toronto and we were both wearing our Jamaica Havaianas — she spotted mine almost immediately and we laughed – Jamaicaholics!  She’s in Belize for the first time, how exciting.

The best things about travel (among a few others) — world wonders and people.

I have tons more beautiful shots from our day, including a stop at Half Moon Caye National Monument  (the beach and the red-footed booby birds there are a sight to behold) but I’m limited in sharing until I know which I’m using for my guidebook.

Meanwhile, here’s a short clip of my Blue Hole dive using my GoPro (watch your volume), and my first video attempt. It doesn’t quite do justice to the sheer magnitude of the dive site and how it feels when you’re there, but I wanted you to know that it’s not hyped up. It’s really, really worth it.

Diving Belize’s Blue Hole from Sunshine and Stilettos on Vimeo.



 Many thanks to locally owned Big Fish Dive Center based on Caye Caulker for inviting me to come along and understanding my work. Their guides were 100% professional (not to mention funny and accommodating to each of us) and the dive plans well explained and executed. This review is not influenced in any way and all reviews are entirely mine — as a fellow guidebook author friend of mine says so well, my opinion is never for sale.

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Lebawit Lily Girma

Lebawit Lily Girma is an award-winning, Ethiopian-American travel writer, photographer and author of several Caribbean guidebooks for Moon Travel Guides, including Moon Belize, Moon Belize Cayes, and Moon Dominican Republic (October 2016). Her work focuses on Caribbean culture and adventure, and has been published in AFAR, CNN Travel, BBC, Delta Sky, The Guardian, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, and Every Day With Rachael Ray, among many others. Lily is also the 2016 recipient of the Marcia Vickery Wallace Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism for her Caribbean coverage, from the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Lily calls herself a “culture-holic”–she speaks four languages fluently and has lived in Cote d’Ivoire, England, Jamaica, Belize, the Dominican Republic and traveled to some 30+ countries around the world. Last but not least, she is a former corporate attorney who ditched her Washington DC office for the road in 2009 to pursue her dream of becoming a storyteller. Lily holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish (summa cum laude) from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.

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  1. Linda 8 October, 2012 at 12:10 AM #

    How amazing to see this giant shark down in the Blue Hole. You are brave Lily!

    Anxiously awaiting the book.

  2. Lebawit Lily Girma 8 October, 2012 at 12:39 AM #

    Thanks so much Linda! :=)

    It was surreal! An outer body experience. I kept thinking, am I really here?! Haha… I kept a safe distance but he was pretty close by, with more below. The whole dive was unforgettable.

  3. Karletta 8 October, 2012 at 1:58 AM #

    I am full of awe. What an astounding place and experience!
    And the shark? Menacing yet so graceful in his element. Congrats on knowing you could do it!

  4. nardo ranks 8 October, 2012 at 9:34 AM #

    Thanks for a beautiful post. Enjoyed it.

  5. Lebawit Lily Girma 8 October, 2012 at 9:47 AM #

    Thanks Karletta, I am so happy I did it! And you saw it well – menacing yet so graceful! And completely in charge of his universe. It barely noticed me, believe it or not. And there were several of us in the Blue Hole (12 divers).

  6. lorraine 8 October, 2012 at 12:55 PM #

    You are one brave travelbook writer! Where will this take us? Onwards and upwards!

  7. Andrea Johnson 20 October, 2012 at 4:05 PM #

    Thanks for sharing the video view underwater, this is one of my favorite dives – check out shark pit nearby next time. Nice job for your first experiment with the go pro, keep sharing 🙂

  8. Lebawit Lily Girma 21 October, 2012 at 12:01 AM #

    Thanks, Andrea – Video is much harder than it looks! My only regret is that I hadn’t yet installed my underwater blurfix filter. But now that it’s on, I hope to get back under the water soon! 🙂
    I’ll have to ask about shark pit, thanks for the tip.

  9. Vanessa 12 December, 2017 at 3:31 AM #

    I like your writing style. I go scuba diving here every other year, I love the whole experience. I recently started using https://dive.site as a logbook in order to keep track of my dive sites. It’s cool that I can also search new dive spots or even add new my own.

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