It took us five days (the last day of our trip!) to finally get a confirmed scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole in Belize. No, we hadn’t realized in advance it would have been such a hassle to book the flight, but after some frustrating experiences and disappointments, we finally got our seat!
We spent five days in Caye Caulker, Belize and reserved one day to fly over the Great Blue Hole, one of the ocean’s wonders of the world. Weeks before we sent emails to different companies, all of us telling to show up on the day to see what they could do. Unfortunately, as it turns out, it wasn’t much. A minimum of three people is required to confirm the flight. There were only two of us, so we needed a third person.
What is the Great Blue Hole?
The Great Blue hole is a huge submarine sinkhole located off the coast of Belize. It is located in the Lighthouse reef, a small atoll that is part of the Belize Barrief Reef, some 70 km off the mainland. The circular-shaped hole has a diameter of 318 meter and is 124m deep, making it a one of the best diving locations in the world. The submarine cave was formed when the sea level was much lower. Only when the ocean began to rise, the cave was flooded.
Is it worth it?
The cost of the scenic flight over the Blue Hole varies from 250 USD to 750 USD (private charter), meaning it’s quite expensive. For us, the only option was to get two seats in a three seater or five seater, limiting the cost to the 250 USD. Still, a lot of money for an one hour flight.
However, it was on my bucket list for quite some while and I had high expectations of it. Afterwards, I have to say it exceeded all my expectations. In my opinion it’s definitely worth it as it’s the best way to see the Blue Hole and get an idea of the magnitude of the Belize Barrief Reef.
What to expect?
The scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole takes about one hour, departing from Belize City or San Pedro (in the future Caye Caulker will be added as well) and gives you the chance to soak up aerial views of the Turneffe Atoll, the Belize Barrief Reef and watch in awe as the turquoise ocean turns into a deep blue coloured and majestic Blue Hole.
Basically the flight takes you over the Belize Barrief Reef towards the Turneffe Atoll and the Great Blue Hole. Your pilot will fly six times around it in total: three times for every side of the plane and each time on a different altitude. This allows you to get a good view on the Great Blue Hole from different angles.
As it turns out, our pilot really liked flying and we’ve got some additional experiences, including acrobatic manoeuvres over the Barrief reef at a very low altitude. It made the experience of the flight even better.
How to book your scenic flight?
We tried many different ways to book a scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole, and in the end E-Z Boy Tours managed to confirm our seats via the Cari-Bee Air Services, a private charter with five seats. However there are different ways of booking your scenic flight:
Book with a company in Caye Caulker
When you are staying on the islands, such as Caye Caulker, this is when you will start seeing signs of scenic flight tours. Pretty much every company in Caye Caulker can help you arrange the scenic flight, however only a few actually advertise on it:
- E-Z Boy Tours
- Tsunami Adventures
- Anda de Wata Tours
Every company needs a minimum of three people to confirm the flight and this is quite tricky, so it helps to be flexible about the day. If you’ve put the scenic flight on your itinerary, the best thing you can do is contact one of these companies the first day you set foot on the island and put your name on the waiting list.
The advantage of using a tour company is that they are making the calls to look for extra people to fill up the spots. And yes, they work together as well. They use a three-seater of a five-seater plane for the tour.
Book directly with airline company in San Pedro or Belize City
Another option to book the scenic flight is by going directly to the airline companies that offer this scenic flight:
Tropic Air – They offer scheduled flights on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s at 11am in San Pedro and on Tuesday’s, Wednesday and Sunday at 11am departing from Belize City.
Maya Island Air – Scenic flights departing from San Pedro at 11am on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The disadvantage of working directly with airline companies is that they use aircrafts with a capacity of up to 11 people.
Book a Private charter
If none of the above options got you a seat in the plane, there is one last option: book your own private charter. Unless you travel with a big group, this might be too expensive. Booking a private charter is only for those who’ve no problems spending a lot of money on this flight.
Tropic Air can depart from all locations (Belize City, San Pedro and in the future: Caye Caulker). They can fly any day of the week with suggested departures at 10am and 2pm. Since you will be booking 3, 6 or an 11 seat plane, you are expected to pay for all seats (780 USD and up).
Javier’s Flying Service – no personal experience with them
Cari-Bee Air Services – Departs from Belize city
Astrum Helicopters – most expensive option