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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Green Grotto Caves Explored

Green Grotto Caves
Located on the north coast of Jamaica near to the town of Discovery Bay is a limestone cave system called Green Grotto Caves. Greet Grotto Caves is one of many limestone cave systems that are scattered across Jamaica, a island best known for it's brilliant sunshine and wonderful white sand beaches. The Green Grotto Caves is also called by several names including Rum Caves as it was used to store barrels of rum due to the cool temperature inside the cave and the Runaway Caves as it was used by Spanish to escape from the British and also by the slaves in a bid to escape. The cave is made up of two major cave systems which are collectively called by the name most Jamaicans are familiar with, the Geen Grotto Caves. I have always heard about these caves, diven past it on several occasions, but had never visited the caves before until a few months ago. But what would I expect and what did the caves have hidden inside?

"Cave Explorers" photographing the cave with hard hats on
Escape rout used by Spanish settlers and later by slaves
After a short safety briefing and putting on my hard hat to protect my head from making flesh to rock connections with the cave ceiling the group was ready to embark on a journey to the inside of Jamaica... Literally! As we entered the cave we could feel the heavy humid cave atmosphere and the characteristic cave features of stalactite, stalagmites and pillars revealed themselves without hesitation. The cave, being a tourist attraction, has well lit pathways and corridors for easy trekking by the curious explorer. However, the many dark areas and shadows casted by the light on the many cave formations gives that mysterious and eerie feeling to the cave experience.

A large stalactite protruding from the cave ceiling 
The cave system boasts large ballroom cavities with ceilings several feet high but those are quickly contrasted by low section that forces the curious visitor to get low. There are even very narrow tunnels that one has to crawl through one at a time to access other large openings below the surface of the earth, giving further testament to the dynamics of the Green Grotto cave system. As we explored the caves it didn't not take long for us to realize we were not along in this large cave system! There were others lurking in the dark, nestled in the tiny indentations and crevices of the ceiling and walls of the caves! What could this be?

A view of one of the larger sections of the cave, home to many bat species
The Green Grotto Caves is certainly not a barren cave as it is home to some nine of the 21 species of bats found in Jamaica. The bats range from small insect eating bats to larger fruit eating bats and in high numbers due to the availability of prime bat real estate in the cave system. The tour is not for those who are extremely scared of bats as these tiny mammals do fly around and pretty close when disturbed. However, they are harmless and rarely if ever make contact with people during the flight and are usually nested in the darker regions of the caves. Guano is very much evident on the floors, walls and ceilings of the caves, a further testament to the vibrant occupation of the many bat species found in Jamaica.

Pond in the Green Grotto Caves
Another feature of the Green Gratto caves is the is crystal clear pond located several feet down in the cave system. The water is so clear that the basin floors can be clearly seen at the shallower ends and the deep end is only obscured by the reflection of the roof that is mirrored by the surface of the water. This beautiful crystal cave pond was used in the original James Bond film "Live and Let Die", staring Roger Moore. This inviting seemingly clean water has lured many to take a refreshing cold dip, but the practice has been prohibited due to the high levels of bacteria from the abundance of Guano. There are several other features of the caves, some named from their perceived similarity to objects such as Market Place and Map of Jamaica, and Limbo Hole due to the tight space one has to maneuver.

Map of Jamaica

Market Place
Limbo Hole
The Green Grotto Caves is certainly one aspect of the Jamaican landscape that is worth exploring and it definitely will give a different view of this lovely island that is famous for sun, sand and sea.

For more photos of Green Grotto Caves VISIT HERE.

2 commented:

lol refreshing dip in the crystal clear water #rofl

Sounds like you want to try it Gio!