Lighthouse Reef, Belize – Diving & Snorkeling in Blue Hole
27 April 2009 | Daniel at the Blue Hole
On Monday the weather seemed a bit better and we decided to follow instructions on how to enter the reef on the Western side to Half Moon Cay using the cruising guide "Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast" by Captain Freya Rauscher. This guide had been our main source of information for Belize. We were a bit concerned because to enter the reef and reach Half Moon bay, the book gave a way point and then a course - no way points in between. However, we decided to try it, with Maria and Daniel at the bow spotting for coral heads. We found the way point, set on the recommended course and marched forward but as we got closer to the entrance Maria begun to see the heads closer to the surface. It is hard to judge how close coral heads are so finally when they looked too close Maria shouted for Kim to stop. Unfortunately it was a bit too late and Kim continued on the course to bump over the first head. Thankfully he was able to get Kikuyu off rather easily and veered to the left where we found deeper water.
After his near run-aground/coral-head stuckness event, we decided to enter the reef to Half Moon Cay on the eastern side of the Lighthouse reef which offered a much wider entrance and less of a chance for error. This turned out to take nearly all day as we headed south to round the cay which is very long. The weather also turned bad as we were rounding its southern tip, with a head wind that gave us only 3-4 knots of speed. Fortunately, we got around safely, entered the reef with at least 14 feet of water under our bottom and anchored near Half Moon Cay with two other boats that were already at anchor. One of this boats, s/v Southern Cross, we had communicated with on our way to this reef. They came to introduce themselves soon after we anchor and we agreed to go ashore the next morning.
Half Moon Cay is a National Park where the Audobon Society has a chapter that is now run entirely by Belizeans. There is a small museum & information center and the man in charge told us that the Audobon Society's marine biologists were going to the Blue Hole to take samples of the water in the early afternoon. After talking with them and learning that Kikuyu's draft was too deep for us to safely navigate the many coral heads on the way to it, they agreed to let us ride with them to snorkel for a nominal fee. Daniel was allowed to dive and help them collect samples. Our lucky charm again shone on us with this opportunity.
Once we reached the Blue Hole, we could see the entire rim from our entrance point to the reef. It seemed a lot smaller than we had envisioned. We snorkeled around almost the entire ring, saw some wonderful coral fish and swam across its amazing deep blue water in the center that leads to its deepest part. After two hours we were ready to head back, very thankful for this awesome experience.