It's my 10 year diving anniversary this year and I have an ever growing marine bucket list. In no particular order:
1) Dive with a school of hammerheads
2) Dive the Blue Hole
3) See dolphins underwater
4) Dive the Galapagos
5) Watch baby turtle hatchings waddle into the water
6) See a Mola Mola (or Ocean Sunfish)
7) See a bobtail squid
These are just a few and probably some of the most difficult things to tick off, but on one single day in Belize's Lighthouse Reef, I found myself ticking off two!
One of the three atolls that make up Belize's barrier reef, Lighthouse Reef is the furthest from the coastline and boasts one of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean, characterised by coral encrusted walls, swim throughs and, of course, the mysterious Blue Hole.
It was the day of the trip I was most excited about - Blue Hole Day! The Blue Hole is one of the most famous dive sites in the world and I understood why as I approached the dark circle. Visible from space, the hole forms a 1000 foot diameter circle on the ocean's surface and is said to drop to depths of 430 feet. It was created by an underground cave system collapsing so there is a real air of mystery below.
The dive itself is very short with only about 30 minutes bottom time. The deepest point of the dive is about 40 metres where you swim between the stalactites. To the other side of you there is the dark eerie blackness to look for sharks. After about five minutes bottom time at 40 metres you ascend to swim round the sandy edge. It was a very cool dive but probably one that you only need to do once.
After our surface interval we were back in the water again, this time at a dive site called Silver Caves. The topography was fascinating with lots of swim throughs and nooks to explore. On one side of the reef the wall gradually sloped, then you could swim through an arch to the sandy bottom. At one point I swam in to a small cave to find a dozen tarpon. Having never seen them before, I was confused to what these ugly, giant fish were!
Half Moon Caye
After visiting the famous red-footed Boobies on Half Moon Caye, we headed on to our next dive site. However, Leo the boat captain spotted a pod of bottlenose dolphins so we jumped in with our snorkels to investigate further. The dolphins were inquisitive and stayed around us for half an hour. At one point I free dived down to find a baby dolphin circling it's nose trying to figure me out. We locked eyes and stared at each other wondering who was going to breakaway first. Unfortunately, my lungs were no match for this guy!
This will be a day I'll always remember, here's to the next 10+ years of diving!