The boat swiftly passes over wave after wave and as we approach the dive site it’s impossible to miss. The light teal water turns sharply to a deep dark blue and I can instantly see where our site, The Blue Hole, is. The Blue Hole is a drop off in the shallow ocean floor into a cylindrical 300-foot drop in the floor. Irrational as it may be, I feel a jolt of nerves shoot through me as we approach. We will be buoyantly floating beneath the water when we approach The Blue Hole’s ledge, but I fear falling off the edge of a cliff as if we were about to approach the rim of the Grand Canyon with our scuba gear on.
I splash into the warm Caribbean water, donning my full set of gear, and slowly descend while taking in the beauty of the site we’ve just entered. Around the edge of The Blue Hole are a handful of boulder-sized reefs, scattered about as if on purpose. Each baby reef is home to its own community of coral, algae, anemones, and an insane diversity of fish. The dive mask limits my vision in an unexpectedly appealing way. Like a horse with blinders on, I’m forced to focus only on what’s in front of me, without regards to my peripheral fields. Having limited vision, limited senses, it is somewhat disorienting but forces me to appreciate what I can see and to focus on what’s before me. I turn my whole head left to look that direction, and I see a ring of sharks circling the entrance of The Blue Hole! I’m so surprised that I lose track of my surroundings and bump right into the reef.
The sharks circle, circle. They seem to be guarding The Blue Hole, the way their pack limits the entryway. Luckily, I’ve seen this kind before when I was snorkeling in Belize. They’re nurse sharks and reef sharks, no more harmful than a clownfish or parrotfish. We are safe, but the visual is ominous. Taking their passive ignorance of us as permission to enter the Hole, we dive in headfirst and descend down along the wall. Everything below is darkness, and somehow as we move further down the light reaches us.
Lining the walls of The Blue Hole is an endless coral reef. It houses an array of coral and fish of every color imaginable and unimaginable. Together the display is more beautiful than the artists at Pixar could possibly craft. There are ledges and nooks within the walls. The dive master motions for me to come closer. I peer into the reef shelf, but he pushes me in further still, until oh I see it now! There’s a giant Caribbean spiny lobster nestled into the nook. He’s huge! His legs and tentacles could engulf my entire head if he wanted, but he’s calm, uninterested in the tourists peering into his home. As long as we keep moving along, he won’t be bothered. I haven’t been diving for long but he seems like an impressive lobster, and I can tell from the excitement that my dive master exudes, that he’s a big lobster by an experienced diver’s standards as well.
We dive and descend further until we get to about 100ft down, the deepest I’ve dived. I’m safe and confident with my dive master though, a highly experienced teacher from Bahama Divers. As if to signal that we’ve gone far enough, we see a nurse shark who has left the circling pack at the top of the Hole. Her ominous presence nearby further highlights the mystery of the depths of The Blue Hole. Why is this hole here? When did it develop? Was it a drastic collapsing of the ground or a gradual splitting of underground plates? Either way, it’s now home to many creatures and species. And I’m so glad it’s here, because this has been the best dive I’ve had, in The Bahamas or anywhere!