Blue Hole National Park
High up in the hills of the Hummingbird Highway, one of the many branches of the Sibun River makes its underground journey towards its main water body. Many years ago there was a large collapse of a cave system in the tropical forests of the Hummingbird Highway.
Today, immaculately blue sparkling water termed a ‘cenote’ by the Mayas, form a round pool where the cold underground waterway of the Sibun River surfaces into the sinkhole created by the collapsed cave, only to disappear into the ground again a few hundred feet away. This pool was appropriately named the Blue Hole and was established, along with 575 acres of forest around it, as the Blue Hole National Park. This collapsed sinkhole forms part of a cave system that extends for miles and includes nearby St. Herman’s Cave (which is also an attraction in the park) and Caves Branch. Specialized divers have made attempts to find the connection, but it was a series of tests that proved this theory.
Just 12 miles (20 km) from Belmopan along the Hummingbird Highway, Blue Hole National Park is readily accessible by bus or private vehicle, as it passes along the route to Stann Creek from Belmopan. It is an ideal recreational spot for swimming and picnicking and is very popular with locals and foreigners alike. Visitors can easily explore the Blue Hole and St. Herman’s Cave while observing the abundance of wildlife along the marked trails in the park. A wide variety of birds have been recorded so far and there have been sightings of many large animals, like the jaguar and ocelot, to name a few, and also many species of reptiles. There are restroom facilities, picnic benches, a visitor center and parking lot at both entrances (Blue Hole and St. Herman’s Cave). There is also a guard station with guides readily available to assist visitors.
When visiting the Blue Hole Site, visitors must climb down a steep flight of steps into the cool, echoic cavern below. The Blue Hole comes into sight upon descending the last stretch of steps. Be sure to take lots of water, as the climb up and down can become strenuous. The cold blue water surrounded by a moss-covered rock face, with jungle vines hovering overhead is an inviting sight. The pool is estimated to be 25 feet deep and 300 feet in diameter.
This national park, like many others in the country, is managed by the Belize Audubon Society.