Blue Hole National Park
Rich in wildlife, Blue Hole National Park harbors the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, peccary, tamandua, boa constrictor, fer-de-lance, toucan, crested guan, blue-crowned mot-mot, and red-legged honeycreeper. You’ll find a parking area and a changing room for a dip in the deep blue waters of the Blue Hole.
The pool of the Blue Hole is an oblong collapsed karst sinkhole, 300 feet across in some places and about 100 feet deep. Water destined for the nearby Sibun River surfaces briefly here only to disappear once more beneath the ground. Steps lead down to the swimming area, a pool 25 feet deep or so. It is a 45-minute hike from the visitors center, or you can cheat and park closer a little farther down the highway. You can also go tubing and caving here.
St. Herman’s Cave requires a hike of a little more than a mile and a half over rugged ground. The trail begins by the changing room. A flashlight and rugged shoes are necessities (they rent flashlights there), and a light windbreaker or sweater is a wise choice for extended stays if you visit in the winter. The nearest of the three entrances to the cave is a huge sinkhole measuring nearly 200 feet across, funneling down to about 65 feet at the cave’s lip.
Concrete steps laid over the Maya originals aid explorers who wish to descend. The cave doesn’t offer the advanced spelunker a real challenge, but neophytes will safely explore it to a distance of about a mile. Pottery, spears, and the remains of torches have been found in many caves in the area. The pottery was used to collect the clear water of cave drippings, called zuh uy ha (sacred water) by the Maya. For a guided trip (recommended), call 501/633-7008 (US$30).
It’s best to visit most caves with a guide, and at the least, don’t visit the park unless the wardens are there (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.). The entrance fee is US$5 per person.
If you’re interested in bird-watching, Mr. Israel Manzanero, a park ranger at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, is considered one of the most knowledgeable birders in Belize.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition