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The Great Blue Hole in Belize Is One of the World's Most Gorgeous Mysteries

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 6/22/2018 Andrea Romano

a large body of water: Lighthouse Reef is one of only four true coral atolls in the Western hemisphere, three of which are situated off the coast of Belize. © Simeone Huber/Getty Images Lighthouse Reef is one of only four true coral atolls in the Western hemisphere, three of which are situated off the coast of Belize. The Great Blue Hole of Belize It's pretty great. 

There’s a spot in the ocean that looks like a portal to another world.

The Great Blue Hole, about 43 miles off the mainland of Belize, is a giant sinkhole near the center of Lighthouse Reef.

The gigantic circle, about 1,043 feet across and 407 feet deep, was formed after a series of glacial events when the sea levels were much lower than they are today.

a blue pool of water with Great Blue Hole in the background © Greg Johnston/Getty Images The site was made famous by Jacques Cousteau, who charted how deep the hole actually was. He declared it one of the top five scuba diving sites in the world. Every year, scuba divers flock to the reef to explore its pristine waters and discover the many varieties of tropical fish and sea life that live there, including the Caribbean reef shark. Day trips to the hole are popular attractions for tourists in Belize.

However, the Great Blue Hole is not an easy dive, and divers without significant experience should not attempt it. The hole itself is very dark and is a draw for divers who want to get a glimpse of the area’s ancient stalactites, rather than colorful plants and animals.

The hole is also part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which was made a World Heritage Site of UNESCO due to its scientific and historical significance.

If you are an experienced diver, the dark depths are an impressive sight to behold, and the surrounding reef is a natural wonder. And don’t worry, you won’t fall into a parallel universe — though it certainly looks like it.

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