Nobody who dived in the Great Blue Hole off Lighthouse Reef has come away thinking it is anything less than wonderful, but could it be the Eighth Wonder of the World? This is what the Belize Tourism Board thinks and it has entered the marine marvel in an international competition that could attract many more visitors.
Visible from space, the hole is a relic of past ice ages and was made famous by the oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. It is a favorite spot for people choosing to vacation on Ambergris Caye, with boat trips regularly carrying divers out along the reefs. The crystal-clear water provides excellent visibility and there are plentiful fish to be seen, including Caribbean reef sharks and occasional hammerheads.
Many people who vacation in Ambergris Caye choose to charter boats so that they can explore the islands on their own; however, navigating the reefs can be tricky and it is wise to sail with a local captain or at least a guide who knows the waters. Although the coral is beautiful to look at and makes snorkeling a delightful experience, it can be hard to spot from above the water especially in rainy conditions. Protecting the reefs is important in preserving the natural beauty of the islands, with their swaying palms and white sandy shores.
Sailing is a popular sport in Belize, as its numerous sailing competitions reveal. Last week saw Jerdon Anderson of the San Pedro Junior Sailing Club take first prize in the 2013 Battle Regatta, with the team taking advantage of a spell of calm weather to excel in five races. The event is held to commemorate the last attack on Belize by Spanish ships in 1798, when they were driven off by the Baymen.
For less energetic sailors, there is plenty of pleasure to be had in idling around Ambergris Caye, fishing, or simply relaxing on deck and soaking up the sun. The calm waters inside the reef are easy to handle in good weather, even for those with only minimal experience. Further out there are good opportunities for deep sea fishing, with tarpon and bonefish on the menu.
With such a love of the sea, it is not surprising that Belizeans are proud of the Great Blue Hole and its treasures.