Hopkins, Belize and Diving the Famous ‘Blue Hole’

Crossing the border from Mexico to Belize was easy. There wasn’t too much paperwork or too many fees bringing the car in.  The insurance was even fairly cheap.  When we arrived we were surprised to hear English being spoken by almost everyone. Most of the Belizean population are dark skinned and some of the most friendly and laid back people we have met so far. Lots of people love listening to reggae here and make sure to take their time with everything, no one is in a hurry. We even read that you might be told to slow down if you are caught walking too fast around their villages. The drive to Hopkins was bumpy and laden with random potholes with a few stretches of dirt road here and there, but other than that it was a smooth ride through the villages and along the coast before arriving in Hopkins. Steve’s Mom, Jody, had booked a weeks stay in the Almond Beach Resort at the Jaguar Reef Lodge for the three of us as a treat! We couldn’t wait to see her and spend a week in paradise!

After our six hour car ride from the border, we arrived at the resort which was located directly on the white sanded beaches with turquoise and blue glassy waters lapping at the shore. We checked in at the front desk and learned that Mom had just arrived not 30 minutes earlier. The hostess led us up to our room which was located in a large 3-story thatch roof house and when we opened the door we were blasted with cheers of joy and hugs galore. We settled right in to our gorgeous room with towels folded like swans and tropical flowers laid on our beds and got ready to hit the beach!

We put our swim suits on and headed downstairs to see what activities we wanted to sign up for. We had so many choices and things to do while we were there. We signed up for a scuba diving/snorkeling and a cave tubing/zip-lining tour. We wanted to take a trip out to dive the Blue Hole, one of the world famous dive spots, but the resort had to schedule a dive with us on the reef to see our skill level and such before allowing us to do the Blue Hole. We gladly signed up for the 2-tank reef dives and then the 3-tank Blue Hole dives the following day. We also signed Mom up  for some snorkeling the same day as the Blue Hole dives so she could come with us. So after we got all of our tours set up we hit the beach for the day and had a wonderful dinner that evening at the resort restaurant before winding down back at our room with some glasses of tequila Mom brought for all of us as a gift.

We woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning to hit the ocean for our two reef dives while Mom stuck around on shore and enjoyed sunbathing and kayaking in the ocean. Our dives were great and as expected we took to the ocean as if we had never left and had a great time. We saw lots of giant spotted eagle rays, barracuda, and green turtles on these two dives. We had a short surface interval on an islands out in the ocean off the coast of Belize and enjoyed some snacks before the second dive and then headed back to shore to enjoy the rest of our evening. We retired early that night to wake up even earlier the next morning to go to the Blue Hole!

Bright and early the next morning we all got ready for our ocean outing to the Blue Hole. We were all on the boat by 6am ready to make the 2-2 1/2 hour trip. Mom rode on the same boat as the divers on the way out and then switched to the snorkeling boat later once we arrived. The morning boat ride was gorgeous.

Once we arrived we were briefed on our dive while we suited up. The snorkelers also got to see the blue hole and did some snorkeling up near the surface while we did our diving. Steve and I would be going to the deepest depths we had ever been before. My computer logged a max depth of 145 feet. There was about 40 feet from the surface of the water to a sloped sandy bottom before you swam into the dark depths of the hole itself and descended to about 100 feet before the hole pinched back inwards on itself and had lots of stalactites and stalagmite formations. We were told at these 100ft+ to be careful of getting nitrogen narcosis. Some people got pretty loopy and Steve even reported that he felt a drunken feeling, but I seemed fine. There were TONS of Caribbean Reef sharks swimming all around us and would appear out of the darkness of the hole and swim right up to us. It was my first time seeing substantial sized sharks on a dive let alone so close. The entire dive went by too fast since it was such a deep dive, but it was so amazing. I had an underwater camera that day, but opted out of taking it with me on this dive and instead payed attention to my dive computer and everything around me. Here is a picture from the Internet of the Blue Hole courtesy of  www.thecharterworld.com. I couldn’t get a picture myself due to its size.

After we dove the blue hole we headed back over toward an island called Half Moon Keys to do two more reef dives in that area at shallower depths. This time I brought the camera with me and got some cool shots of what it was like diving at the reefs in Belize. While we did our two reef dives here, Mom got to do her snorkeling at some other spots nearby as well.

After all of our diving and snorkeling, we landed on the Half Moon Keys island and went on a short hike through the island to spot some wildlife. We saw lots of iguanas who, of course, owned the entire island. We also saw lots of large hermit crabs scrambling across the paths and also saw lots of Boobies! Boobie birds! I don’t know why they are called boobies, but they are. Then we had an amazing buffet style Belizean lunch and got back on the boat for our 2 hour ride back to shore. The entire day couldn’t have been more perfect or more amazing.

Back at our room we toasted some glasses of tequila to logging our 30th dives and enjoyed a movie before falling asleep to the approaching thunder storm out on the ocean. The next day we had a very relaxing beach/sunbathing day. We did lots of swimming in the ocean and resort pool and dined on fine cuisine in the evening. The week seemed to creep slowly onward as we soaked in every minute of paradise.  During the evenings and nights later in the week we got to experience some intense thunder storms with lots of lightening and roaring thunder throughout the nights.  Almost every morning we awoke to a calm freshly renewed ocean still from the onslaught of the summer storm.

The next tour we enjoyed was the cave tubing and zip-lining tour in the Belizean jungle. We drove out for a few hours to the cave and did some awesome zip-lining through the canopy of the jungle for a while. None of us had ever tried it before and we had an absolute blast! Our guides were really nice and did a great job helping us have the time of our life. We only wish we could have zip-lined all day!

We then got some tubes and helmets strapped with lights and took a short hike into the jungle before coming to a river which ran in and out of the caves. We all got to take a quick swim in the chilly but extremely refreshing water before sitting in our tubes and floating through the darkness of the caves. Our guide did a wonderful job telling us lots of information about the jungle and the cave itself. When we finally emerged out of the cave we got to free float down the river for a while. The cave was beautiful and huge and had multiple openings and entrances. I wasn’t able to bring my camera as it would have gotten wet, but you can imagine how awesome it must have been!

The remainder of our stay in Belize was amazing and filled with sun, piña coladas, delicious food, and card games. We also spent one day riding some bicycles into town to have some breakfast and visit some local shops. The town was small and everyone seemed to know one another. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We took the bikes back and spent one final day lounging on the beach and taking the kayaks out into the ocean before we finally had to say our goodbyes the following morning. Mom was taking a local flight back to Belize City and then back to the states and Steve and I were packing our things to make the drive to Guatemala. The entire week was amazing and we had a wonderful time. It was definitely a different experience from our travels through Mexico as everyone spoke English and the way of life was very different from the Spanish speaking countries. We will definitely be returning one day, perhaps to a resort again or perhaps to one of the hostels located in Hopkins. Next up, Guatemala!

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  1. Dave the Gimp Dad Says:

    Wonderful… It is good to see Jody again, and it sounds like you all had a great time together. What an amazing Blue Hole…WOW. I hadn’t seen anything like that before…I bet is was a thrill just diving in there. Well, on to Guatemala… Be safe and I hope you all have a great time there as well.

    Love you,

  2. Jerry Merfeld Says:

    Dude… Alex, very cool!!! :))

    I don’t poke around on people’s blogs much but I’ve seen a few and this particular post was the best read so far. The depth, detail and inline pictures made it absolutely delightful to read.

    Thanks for the break. Hope all is well!!!

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