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Diving the Blue Hole

Posted By: Scubacat

Diving the Blue Hole - 07/26/04 06:53 PM

I am planning to be in San Pedro on Nov. 19th and have been looking at the the different dive sites. I especially want to dive in the Blue Hole but I'm a bit apprehensive due to such depths of 155ft. and also shark feedings on request. I am a certified diver with about 48 dives but I want to hear from someone that has done it. Any comments? confused
Posted By: toad

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 01:41 AM

kicks ass....
Posted By: SlimJim

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 05:38 AM

You should really get your advanced certification if you haven't already done so. If not I would not worry about a thing as all dives in Belize are guided (by law) and you won't get anywhere near 120ft. Though the Blue Hole is a must dive, upgrading to one of the Atolls dives is strongly recommended (great reefs). I may sound like an expert but I'll be diving BZE for the first time in October. Ive done my homework (I think...).
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 06:22 AM

Slim, did you mean Scubacat won't get anywhere near 120'? The stalactites are at 130' approx. Maybe you meant to type 150', as Scubacat had 155', in the original post?

To Scubacat, go up to the search feature up on the right under the words "add topic" "reply" and plug in Blue Hole. You'll get a bunch of posts. Some of us were just talking about it this past week as well.
Posted By: SlimJim

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 06:40 AM

Well as far as I know recreational diving ends at 130 ft. Period. I've dove The Diane and The Bibb in the FL Keys where the floor is at 120/130ft. almost no one touches the sand as all that does is kill your bottom time. Instead we dive the decks at between 70 and and 105 ft. Help we out someone! Although I would love to see 130' no dive operator in his right mind would let the group anywhere past 110 feet. May be I'm wrong and if I am please let me know and I will certainly bring my backup dive computer with me.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 09:24 AM

Sorry to say, you are wrong Slim. You've got to control you own buoyancy as you descend. The floor is more than 400' below and you don't wanna go that deep. smile You want to level off at around 130', swim in and out of the stalactites for a bit, watch for sharks, and then after a short bottom time, begin your slow ascent with the group. There's a long safety stop before final ascent to surface.
Posted By: Scubacat

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 02:10 PM

Seashell - you know your stuff. Yes, I have done extensive research on the Blue Hole and the fun begins below 130' which I've done in the Maldives when my dive team were doing their advanced dive course and they allowed me to go with them. I understand the descent must be fast and bottom time wold only be 10-15mins due to depth and slow ascend with stops in between to release nitrogen. I am pretty excited and anxious at the same time as I have read in many of the books I've done research in that this is a technical dive and not for everyone - let alone having a divemaster chum sharks - I don't very much like that idea.

Thanks so much for your advice and I will continue to read some more - I can't wait to meet all the wonderful underwater creatures and see the beautiful colors of the reefs.

Thanks again!
:p
Posted By: chattykathy

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 09:07 PM

Our family of 4 dove the Bluehole in June 2004. We were diving with Ramon's diveshop. I believe they use Amigos del Mar divemasters for that trip. There were 2 that accompanied us on our dive. My daughter (20) and I had no desire to do the Bluehole, but decidied since we were in Belize we had better do it! I like to dive shallow where the light shows off the pretty fish smile Hubby and son (17) are always up for caves, dark, and large creatures. The Bluehole turned out to be one of my most memorable dives ever!!! I am so glad that I didn't miss it. We dove at 140 feet. My husband dove the Bluehole 5 years ago and was ho-hum about it. They did not see sharks. Apparently because so many dive shops do shark feeds in there now, the chances are high that sharks will be around. A nice narc buzz helped calm the fleeing instinct that comes from being surrounded by sharks. I remember seeing them everywhere...above, below and to the side...close. They were 8-10 feet in length. Hubby counted 16 but dive master confirmed that there were over 25 in our near proximity. It was quite a rush. I was mesmorized in a narcosis sort of way by 2 bull sharks below me and didn't realize that I dropped to 150 feet...the dive master was quick to pull me up and kept a good eye on everyone. It is easy to just keep going deeper! The additional dives done that day were outstanding...clear and lots of pretty fish smile Diving from San Pedro is only fair, but diving farther out was exceptional! Enjoy your trip. Thanks, Kathy
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 10:14 PM

chattykathy, good story! Thanks for sharing.

On the other hand, I was surprised to see you describe the diving from San Pedro as only fair. Makes me wonder what sites Ramon's got you out to while you were there. Sure, the fish don't show up on every dive, but there are some dive sites there that are pretty reliable and even if I don't see rays, nurse sharks and turtles, I'll still see a plethora of reef fish. Some of the corals, hard and soft are amazing and the little critters that you really have to keep your eyes peeled for are great. (flamingo tongues, Pederson cleaning shrimp, etc) I also really enjoy passing over the finger formations. Down one chute, up another, then across. Watch the sand chutes below you, sometimes you'll see free swimming morays and other large fishies. Tell you DM to slow the heck down, so a person can take a look around once in a while. wink

Yeah, it's not Sipadan/Mabul, but it still can be some pretty nice diving. smile
Posted By: mobunny

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/27/04 11:50 PM

chattykathy, that is a very cool story. WOW. I would love to have been there right next to you on that day. mobunny cool
Posted By: chattykathy

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 12:13 AM

One of the reasons for "fair" diving during our 10 day stay at Ramon's was the horrible conditions due to very heavy wind. Many dive operators were not going out at all. Our DM explained that a hurricane a couple of years ago(I don't recall which one) had destroyed the reef. I expected diving in Belize (off of San Pedro) to be like the conditions on the outer dives the day we dove the Bluehole. Maybe my big expectations led to the "fair" description. Anyway I even braved some dives on days when most boats didn't go out. The backwards roll into the huge swells was pretty gutsy and getting out was insane! Those DMs are so talented the way they can hall you out in such huge swells with only a few bruises the next day!
Anyway, a "fair" diving day is alright with me b/c we love to dive! The rays, nurse sharks, turtles were fun to see. Have fun! Kathy
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 12:24 AM

Chattykathy, yeah, I've been diving there in those conditions a few times too. Kinda thrilling but the viz can be bad too, that takes more away from the diving than most anything else to my mind. The other thing that happens is you learn how to time yourself, getting back on the boat. smile Even so, like you I've had bruises as badges to prove it.

Now then, as for the hurricane that chewed up the reef . . I'm a bit confused. Hurricane Mitch, I believe it was did do some damage many years ago and there are a couple of sites, particularly those that were mostly staghorn coral, that still show the marks of Mitch's passing, but even those sites are recovering nicely now.

As for Hurricane Keith, it did some real damage out at the Atolls, not so much the local sites.

I didn't notice any serious damage after Iris.
Posted By: SlimJim

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 05:43 AM

I stand corrected. And I'm glad I spoke up. Now I have 2 months to psyche myself up for a 140 foot dive (instead of a 45 minute boat trip to freak out on it). Question: Bring a flashlight?
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 07:49 AM

SlimJim, I dunno how to break this to ya . . .but if you are staying in San Pedro, you'll have a lot longer than 45 minutes to spend thinking about the dive on your trip out.

As for bringing a flashlight, how much experience do you have? If you've lots of deep darkish experience then yeah, bring a flashlight. But if you've not that much experience, you won't need it and it won't benefit you in any real way. It will just be one more thing to deal with, that may have a negative impact on your first-time enjoyment of this very cool dive.

Oh yeah, and try psyching yourself out for a 130' dive instead of a 140' dive. That way, you might find you control your buoyancy better at depth. smile
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 01:27 PM

Got to put my 2 cents BZ in on this. Just because someone wants to dive the Blue Hole should not be the only reason they do. This is a serious dive that should only be done by people with the proper training and experience. Too many people have been taken on the Blue Hole dive that should never have gone. That is why people have died doing it. Too many people have died. Diving can and should be a safe experience. The dive operators that take divers with less than the proper training and experience are doing it out of greed and are a disgrace to the sport.
chattykathy's story is the perfect example. It is fortunate that the dive master only had to rescue one diver who allowed themselves to get narcosis. How many divers going the wrong direction can a dive master save? The idea is not to have to save people who are trying to kill themselves, it is to not allow them to get into a situation where they might kill themselves. mad

PS: I will put just as much blaim on the divers themselves that go on these dives. I am assuming they have gotten certified and should know their limitations and the limitations their training taught them.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 01:39 PM

right on, By
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 01:49 PM

As you know I agree bywarren, but I get tired of saying it every time a discussion on the Blue Hole comes up.

Again, for newer divers, before deciding whether or not they will dive the Hole at all, they should dive all the week doing local dives. Get lots more comfortable with their skills on deeper dives prior to making any decisions with regard to the Blue Hole.

In principle, I don't see any reason why a diver with approximately 50 dives shouldn't be able to dive the Blue Hole (as long as the 50 were fairly recent), especially when they've had the further practice in the days leading up to the BH dive. And this is particularly true for divers that took their original training in inland waters, that were dark and murky and cold. Not that the Blue Hole is cold, it's just that the divers that were trained in those conditions are better prepared from the get go for this kind of dive.

And I will also fully support bywarren's comments regarding personal responsibility. A diver should never dive beyond their own abilities or skill levels.

This is not to say that a diver that has only been to 60' should never dive to 80', it merely means that a diver should not make any dives that they are not yet prepared to take. And a diver can call a dive at any time for any reason. So even if a diver started out planning to do a dive, if they change their mind at the site . . .that is OK and is the right decision for them.

Even very, very skilled divers have called off a dive they'd had planned for a long time. Sometimes that decision was based on nothing more than a feeling.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 02:28 PM

Right on seashell: "Sometimes that decision was based on nothing more than a feeling."

When a peson starts to feel narcosis, it should not be viewed as a "high" that will increase the enjoyment of the dive. It should be viewed as a warning sign that you might be going to kill yourself and you should get your ass out of there. :rolleyes:
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 03:45 PM

Well, actually bywarren, I meant that sometimes the decision to abort the dive is made at the surface prior to actually making the dive.

With regard to narcosis, I agree, it should be considered a warning that you need to ascend a couple of feet, or maybe a couple more, until the feeling dissipates. I think your position on that particular matter is just a little bit over the top.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 04:39 PM

There can be many warning signs that a dive should be aborted, both before and during the dive. I personally know a former dive master who has permanent neurological damage from having to chase a diver who got nacrosis and went the "wrong way". Any diver who allows themselves to experience narcosis is putting both themselves and others in danger. The Blue Hole dive is not a dive where the dive masters should have to watch 20 divers at 20 different depths trying to avoid narcosis. It is just my opinion that if a diver gets narcosis on a group dive when the profile is to dive to depths of 130ft or greater, they should abort their dive for both their own safety and the safety of the others. There is no reason to hang out at 80ft in the Blue Hole where there is nothing to see and have the dive master not be able to devote all of his attention to the divers that are diving the planed dive.

Just one opinion. smile
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 05:55 PM

bywarren said: There can be many warning signs that a dive should be aborted, both before and during the dive.

seashell replies: This is true and should be heeded. By the same token, it's not like it is really common either.

bywarren said: I personally know a former dive master who has permanent neurological damage from having to chase a diver who got nacrosis and went the "wrong way". Any diver who allows themselves to experience narcosis is putting both themselves and others in danger.

seashell replies: Do you dive by? Everyone experiences narcosis to some degree whether they admit/accept that or not. In any event, your DM buddy did not get neurological damage from going deeper. Perhaps going deeper caused him to accumulate deco time that he blew off, or perhaps he ascended to rapidly for some other reason, but it wasn't the going deeper that caused his neurological symptoms. If he was chasing a diver who was ascending too rapidly, in an effort to stop that diver's too rapid ascent, that could cause the problems to which you refer. In that event, narcosis would have abated as the divers went more shallow. If narcosis was indeed involved in this circumstance, perhaps your DM buddy meant that the diver in question, became agitated at depth due to narcosis and panicked and went rapidly for the surface?

bywarren said: The Blue Hole dive is not a dive where the dive masters should have to watch 20 divers at 20 different depths trying to avoid narcosis.

seashell replies: Agreed, however, that is not what I said either. If a diver feels significantly narced they can often alleviate the symptoms by ascending a foot or so. Ergo, if the diver is at 133' and feels a bit giddy, then ascending to 130' may be all that is needed to feel more normal.

This is another reason that I always recommend that the divers intending to do the Blue Hole, do some deep dives before they go to BH. That way they will have some idea of how they may feel. There is no guarantee of degree of narcosis at a certain depth. Some people are more affected by it than others, and some people are more affected by it different days and at different depths. Who knows maybe it has to do with lack of sleep, hydration, mood, rate of descent or the phases of the moon (joke). Ergo, you just need to learn to recognize it within yourself early enough so that you can take steps to ascend a foot or so, if need be.

bywarren said: It is just my opinion that if a diver gets narcosis on a group dive when the profile is to dive to depths of 130ft or greater, they should abort their dive for both their own safety and the safety of the others.

seashell replies: Well, that's a difficult call. Once you are at 130' on the Blue Hole dive, (or even higher) abrupt abort can actually create a safety hazard for the aborting diver, their buddy and others in the water. Better to learn to recognize your symptoms and ascend a foot or so until you feel less giddy. Pause, think, react. After you have ascended that foot or so, and are feeling less giddy, you can try to descend again, often the narcosis will not be as noticeable on the second attempt to go to depth.

bywarren said: There is no reason to hang out at 80ft in the Blue Hole where there is nothing to see and have the dive master not be able to devote all of his attention to the divers that are diving the planed dive.

seashell replies: Certainly not, and I've never advocated anything of the sort. bywarren have you ever made the Blue Hole dive?
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 07:22 PM

seashell: I do not mean to turn this into a debate on your and my ideas of a safe dive or safe diving procedures. I just personally feel that on a dive like the Blue Hole, all divers should be able to dive the profile of the planed dive and if not, for what ever reasons, they should abort the dive.

My friend was the dive master on a Blue Hole dive, 30 years ago, when a diver got narcosis and headed for the bottom. By the time the dive master caught up with him their bottom time and air supply did not allow for a slow enough assent and proper decompression. They both ended up needing re-compression and by the time they got to a chamber too much damage had been done.

My opinion is formed on 46 years of diving. I have dove the Blue Hole enough times that I would have to strain my memory to count them.

We can argue all we want over each others opinion. I just believe that some of the deaths that have occured in the Blue Hole could have been prevented if divers that began to experience narcosis were able to recoginize it and aborted the dive as opposed to continuing and going beyond their limits on that particular day under those particular circumstances. That is my opinion - based on my experience.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 11:37 PM

bywarren, I'm not trying to argue with you and please accept my apologies if it appeared that way or if you felt I was impugning your experience in any way. I was merely somewhat confused by your original description of the specific event you related here. As it turns out, the ultimate neurological consequences were indeed due to accumulated deco and necessity to blow it off (due to lack of air, as you say).

When I write these posts, I don't consider them as only between you and me. If that were so, we could have our discussions by email. When I write what I write, I'm trying to keep in mind that the original posters and likely many other divers (especially those that have not been in the Hole) are reading.

While on the one hand, you and I appear to be in agreement that no one should take the dive lightly, we may not be in agreement as to how much fear and dread we are attempting to instill into those readers. (wicked grin).

Again, no offence intended.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/28/04 11:58 PM

I agree whole heartedly, seashell. You and I are just expressing our opinions. My original response to this was initiated by the comment made "a nice narc buzz", etc. That makes me cringe and sends the wrong message. And, it is my opinion that there are far too many people doing the Blue Hole dive that should not be doing it. When you have the number of diving accidents that have been a result of diving the Blue Hole, things are being done wrong. That is a black eye on Belize and I don't like that.
Posted By: Everglades

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/29/04 12:35 AM

Very informative (and interesting) post. Nice having some pros in this field comment in depth, (no pun intended).
Good reading, for sure.
Posted By: SlimJim

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/29/04 04:33 AM

I know its a little off-topic but since this thread has captured the attention of some very experienced Belize divers, I have another question to ask. Is it worth ponying up a hundred bucks or so to upgrade a local reef dive (from Ambergris Caye) to one of the Atolls dives?
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/29/04 07:07 AM

NO question!! Do it. The Atoll dives are 3 tanks. Takes all day, leaves very early in the morning. Get to bed earlier than usual the night before, you won't regret it. Go with Amigos on their Pro48.
Posted By: Scubacat

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/29/04 07:40 PM

Well this has been extremely interesting reading and I will be extremely careful. I will be staying at the Banana Beach - do you know if they have their own dive shop or Monkey Business just books your dives with local dive operators? Also, can you leave your equipment if diving all week?

You people have been such a great help and I thank you all. Bywarren I fully understand your concerns and how some people express themselves - but I love life and that means the world to me! Thanks for your valauble input.
Posted By: klcman

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/29/04 11:44 PM

BB does not have their own dive shop but can hook you up with anyone. Nearly all op's, to my knowledge at least, will store your gear for the week & keep it clean
Posted By: Scubacat

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 07/30/04 02:21 PM

Thanks!
Posted By: Catatonic Motivator

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/14/04 06:13 PM

Ah, divers. All of 'em experts.<G>

The Blue Hole dive, in and of itself, is not particularly impressive. The other two dives you'll get in that day are much more memorable, IMO.

It's about a two-hour (or more) boat ride out and back and can be flat as Kansas or pretty durn rocky. Just depends.

You'll descend from a shelf at about 20' down to about 132', spend appx. 8-11 minutes swimming single-file around some stalagtites with a DM leading and following the group. Take a small flashlight as there is some (not much) color down there that you won't see without one (Seashell, I generally carry a small one on EVERY dive, just to look in holes or under shelves--pretty handy tool that really isn't a problem to take along. I recommend that everyone do that). Our DM showed me a hole up into a small room in the roof of the overhang that we swam up into and needed the light to see.

The first time, we fed the sharks to pass the time at the long (15 min., I believe) safety stop at the 20' shelf on the way back up. The second time we didn't.

Not a particularly spectacular dive, nor one that is necessary if you have any reservations. Save yourself and the other divers some trouble if you're not comfortable and don't go.

I can't fathom (hehe) two divemasters taking a group of 20 down, but maybe they do. We had, maybe, a dozen. That's about all I'd be comfortable with.

I've got about a hundred open-water dives and love the sport. And I've never experienced narcosis, even down to 144 feet. Some divers don't but that's not to say I never will. Generalizations and "facts" about diving are dangerous assumptions as everyone's physiology is different.

Again, if you want to do the Blue Hole and are comfortable with it, by all means do it. My family had a great time snorkeling the atoll while we dove and said the sealife was spectacular up top. That's always an option, too. Again, the other two dives will be worth your time and effort.

Just my opinions after only two dives in the Hole.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/14/04 07:45 PM

cat, I always have a small flashlight with me too.

In the Blue Hole, I take my big light as well. I too have looked into chambers in the walls of the Blue Hole. But if the diver is not that experienced and doing the BH for the first time, they are probably better off without trying to fiddle with their light.

Also, you may not believe that you have experienced narcosis, many divers don't think they have, yet we all do to some degree. It's physiology after all.

Bigger groups of divers, generally have three DMs in the water with them. As for Amigos, if they have a large group of divers on the boat that day, they will break them into two groups, sometimes even three. I like to be in the second or third group. More chance of seeing the sharks.

Also, I believe that the lip into the Hole is more like 40'.
Posted By: Elbert Greer

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/15/04 01:28 AM

Iíve done the Blue Hole, 46 logged in the hole as a part of my 8000 total dives and Iím sure a few I forgot. It isnít pleasant for me. Iím usually one of the Dive masters and responsible for the divers Iím escorting. All I do for that nerve racking 15 min.s is count them. If Iím with 8, I count them to myself, 12345678Ö12345678Ö12345678 and so on, for 15 min. The Danger is them wandering down below the 130í dive plan and drifting unnoticed and narced to a depth I canít retrieve them.
In the past IĎve brought one back from 240í that got away from me during the dive There is a limit to how much I will put my life at risk to save someone else. . I never told him but he was just a few feet away from my waving bye. One of my Dive master friends still feels bad about the one that got away from her. The first rule of rescue is save yourself first.
Iím sure itís an awesome experience as you can read from your other 34 responses.
Iíll tell you a short story about my most interesting Blue Hole dive.
This may seem a little morbid but itís the truth and how I feel.
I got a call about a missing diver in the hole from one of the dive shops in San Pedro and was ask to go on a rescue dive to retrieve him.
Remember the Hole is 2hours plus from San Pedro and he has already been missing for over and hour.
So what Iím really doing is looking for the body for the familyís sake.
I arrive and three hours plus has passed. I entered the water with extra tanks and a long deep Ďnon recí dive plan.
Iím not with tourist and not counting 12345678, just looking for one and he has used all the time god gave.
Your right the fun does just begin at 130 the stalagmites and mites are 110 to 200 and pockets beyond. I tied off bottles at 40 on the lip and worked a horizontal search pattern around the portion of the circumference where he was last seen. I saw the first and only leather back turtle of my life at 140. He was sporting a 6í shell and just cruising, in passing he gave me the same kind of look I gave him.
At 200 I was passed by a hammer head so large I wonít even guess for fear of your accusing me of being narced. As far as I could detect he didnít notice me. I gave the search as much as I could afford Deco debt wise. But couldnít go where the body must have been, at 470í on the bottom, where he will remain.
The part that seems a little macob for me is how much I enjoyed my dive not counting 12345678.
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/15/04 01:52 AM

Amazing story. Thanks Elbert for sharing.
Posted By: windyw

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/16/04 01:09 PM

Elbert,
Thanks for sharing. Very interesting reading. Thanks for a totally different perspective.

Stephanie
Posted By: CAPTAIN bigzeke

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/16/04 04:31 PM

I just have to put my two cents in on this topic. I have dived with Elbert Greer before and he is FANTASTIC!!!! I have to admit I think that Amigos del Mar is by far the best dive shop on the island, but Elbert with Ramon's is my favorite DM. OK if anyone gives a crap what I think, I absolutely love Tony with Amigos. He does not talk much on land, but is marvelous down under. He made an ordinary dive at Victoria Canyons one of the best of my life. I must have made that same dive 6 times prior, but with him feeding and playing with the groupers & nurse sharks it was definitely a sight to be seen. Sure got away with the subject of post, but in my opinion the Blue Hole is a dive that should not be missed. Use Amigos and they will send 3 DM's even if you have only a group of 12. They are the goods!
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/17/04 08:15 AM

I concur, Tony is a fabulous DM. He can find you the littlest things and he takes very good care of you on the boat. Sure, he's not as funny as some of the younger guys, but it all depends on what you are into. If you are into macro, then Tony is definitely your man.
Posted By: Scubacat

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/20/04 06:38 PM

I will make sure to ask for Tony. I still hve a way to go (Nov. 19th) but spending 2 weeks and so looking forward to it!

Thanks to all of you!!!! By the way, are the pica pica gone? confused
Posted By: sj_ware

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/27/04 10:28 AM

Hello Everyone: We will be visiting Ambergris the last week of October. I have a couple of questions to anyone who wants to answer: what are the names of close-in dive sites where you can see the most marine life (e.g., moray eels, turtles, grouper, et al)? How many cruise ships dock in Ambergris and on what days? It is not my intention to offend anyone; it is just that I would rather not be on a dive boat with 20 cruise-shippers who are in a hurry to 'get back to the ship' so they won't miss a meal or whatever. I got stuck like that more than once in Cozumel, and as a result I quit visiting what was once a beautiful, unspoiled place. frown

Also, some dive shop recommendations would be appreciated; we will either be staying at Ruby's or the Coral Beach. Thanks so much!
Posted By: mobunny

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/29/04 05:08 PM

I would highly recommend Protech dive shop. We returned on 8/19 from two weeks in AC. As new divers we followed a message board recommendation to use Protech and were really glad that we did. Wonderful friendly skilled dive staff who through their patience and instruction significantly helped me improve my diving skills. (Enough so that I dove the Blue Hole as my 22nd dive and had an amazing dive with no problems - it was in all honesty one of the best days of my life - incredible experience). The most we ever had on a boat was 12 (which they broke into two groups), but that was the exception, not the rule. On many days it was about 6. The shop changes out their equipment every six months - so all the rental equipment is in excellent condition. (Roni the owner told me they were just getting ready for the latest order to come in from customs) I will give more details in my trip report if I ever get it posted but you can't go wrong using this shop. Enjoy yourselves. mobunny
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 08/29/04 06:40 PM

If you want a close in dive, try Hol Chan. It's shallow, 30 ft or less, but there is a heck of a lot of critters to see.
Posted By: patrick-e

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 09/17/04 03:37 AM

Like CAPTAIN bigzeke, I just have to put my two cents in on this thread. We dove the Blue Hole in October 1997; at that time, we had logged just 25 dives. The dive lasted a total of 19 minutes, with the first two minutes being the descent from 0 to 130 feet. The next 6 minutes were spent at the 130 foot depth, and we had a 5 +/- minute ascent to 20 feet, where we spent 5 minutes in a safety stop. Today, we have logged over 175 dives in various locations, many of these local dives in the San Pedro area. Also, we have completed the Advance OW course. Now, having said all of that, it is my opinion that the Blue Hole dive is definely an advanced dive; and should be undertaken, as such, by divers having considerably more experience than we had in 1997. What is the magic number? I don't know, but I think that an AOW certification is one criteria that a diver should have to undertake this dive. And, I definitely agree that a diver that hasn't been in the water for a while should take several local dives prior to undertaking the Blue Hole trip. We were accompanied be 3 dive masters that kept a close look after us and nothing bad happened to us. Were we just lucky on that dive? I don't know. But it probably had a lot to do with the skill of the DMs. It was an interesting dive, because of the large stalagtite formations at 130 feet. And we saw a large barracuda at that depth. Other than that, there is not too much else to see at the 130 foot mark. All the bright colors have disappeared and only the dark blues, grays, etc are left. I am glad that I experienced this dive once, but I am not in any rush to do it again.

As far as the local dives around San Pedro are concerned , I have always enjoyed them immensely. For one reason, it is only a 5 - 10 minute ride to the dive sites, rather than a 2+ hour ride . . . sometimes through rough open water. On our last several dives in SP, we saw many grouper, nurse shark, many turtles, one large bull shark in the distance, and numerous other types of sea life. Cypress Canyon, Pillar Coral, Tackle Box, and Hol Chan are some of our favorite local dive sites.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Diving the Blue Hole - 10/21/04 10:39 AM

I just ran across a site that I had long ago filed into my favorites and then promptly forgot about it.

The Blue Hole and it's glory.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/galleries/belize/photo3.html

That's me by that stalactite.

OK, OK, well, it could have been me. OK, OK, so it's not me. wink
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