Sometimes an idea takes hold and doesn’t let go. You think to yourself, I have to do this. That’s how I felt about travelling to Antarctica, and that’s how my friend Angie felt about seeing the Great Blue Hole in Belize.
It’s easy to find water-based trips; dozens of companies offer scuba diving and snorkelling trips from tourist hotspots like Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye.
But, that classic image – the dark sinkhole in the turquoise sea – well, that can only be seen from the sky. So, you can imagine Angie’s excitement when we learned we could fly over the Blue Hole.
After a lot of misinformation from people and from the Internet, it came down to persistence and dumb luck. Here’s a look at how we did it.
Taking a chance
After dead leads and outrageous price quotes, Angie thought it would be best to take a chance at the Caye Caulker Airport. At 9 a.m., she rounded up our group and we headed to the airport to ask for a plane.
Caye Caulker is a small island. You can walk to the airport from the town centre in about 15 minutes. With one asphalt runway and one wooden office building, it is by far the smallest airport I’ve ever seen.
A lucky break
Tropic Air, one of Belize’s two domestic airlines, sent us a plane from the head office in Ambergris Caye almost right away. Our private plane – an eight-seater, single-engine GippsAero Airvan – landed in Caye Caulker just before 11 a.m.
Off we go
Abner, the pilot, made six people very happy that day with an amazing flight over tropical islands, reefs and water in all shades of blue.
The money shot
20 minutes after takeoff, we spotted Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole.
The reaction? A collective “wow!”
Abner circled the hole several times, clockwise and counterclockwise so both sides of the plane got a good look, and we flew quite low since there wasn’t anyone around at first. 20 minutes at Lighthouse Reef was plenty yet not enough
If you go
- Tropic Air (www.tropicair.com) flies all over Belize. The airports in Belize City, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye are closest to the Blue Hole.
- Showing up in person worked for us; we were quoted much higher prices elsewhere. Go in advance in case a same-day flight isn’t possible.
- The cost is determined by the plane and the air time, and is therefore highly variable. Our flight lasted approximately 70 minutes and cost BZD$1,420 (US$710 total or US$118 per person for six people).
- The cost per person is cheaper if you can fill up a plane. That’s three, seven or 14 people according to the Tropic Air site.