Discover the worlds best cave diving locations
May 19th, 2015 By Jeffrey Glenn
Most countries have underground cave systems and some of them, or parts of them, are water filled and only accessible to cave divers. Many such systems are very extensive indeed and are packed with spectacular formations, so a plane journey seems a small price to pay to take in their splendour.
But one of the biggest advantages of going abroad for the sport, to tropical countries especially, is the warmth of the water inside.
Even in Florida the underground water temperature is a year-round 22 degrees centigrade, vastly different to shivering in 4 degrees in more northerly latitudes.
Some Popular Locations
A brief list of locations popular with cave divers include:
- • The UK – it contains many flooded systems, but most require caving experience in order to reach the underwater parts
- • Sardinia, Italy – the most popular cave diving location in the Mediterranean, it includes the largest underwater cave in the Mediterranean sea, Nereo Cave
- • Grand Bahama Island – the entire island is riddled with submerged caverns and passages
- • Dominican Republic – a growing centre for both the sport and diving for scientific purposes, but unsafe practices abound with many unregistered and untrained guides and companies
- • Florida – home to the largest caving community in the US
- • Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico – an area with thousands of deep cenotes, and a strip of Caribbean coast near Cancun with extensive horizontal, flooded cave systems
- • Brazil – cave diving in a few places; some areas require cave diving certification
- • Philippines – several underwater cave systems, and the well organised Filipino Cave Divers organisation to oversee the sport
- • Australia – many sinkholes and caves, but most cave divers have only sea diving experience initially
In well-used cave diving systems there will certified divemasters or instructors with extensive experience of the system. It is a good investment to hire their services when in a foreign country. They will be aware of the difficulties (and dangers) in a particular system, including any arising from local wildlife - or even local inhabitants.
Your First Dive
But a warning to sea and open water divers: according to one very experienced cave diver, of the more than 400 cave diving fatalities worldwide over the years, the majority involved divers who did not have cave certification.
Diving in caves is unlike any other kind of diving. If you have been swimming for a mile along passages deep underground and something goes wrong, you have to swim that same mile back before you can even think of coming back up to the surface. Passages are frequently tight, with no way to turn round for extended periods. Equipment too is highly specialised. Many everyday items of ordinary diving equipment can pose a lethal hazard underground.
It needs careful planning and preparation, equipment in top condition, and backup arrangements, particularly the buddy diver system. A must look at website for diving underground can be found at cavediving.com.
And For Experienced Cave Divers
Even for experienced cave divers, a trip underground on the other side of the world is very different a local trip nearer to home. The logistics are so much greater, there may be poisonous animals and insects in the cave itself, and travellers may need to endure long journeys to reach the location in poor transport, on unmade roads. It may require exceptional stamina just to reach the cave site, before setting a foot underground. And if you don’t speak the language, you can’t ask directions, negotiate access permissions, or even find where to buy the essentials needed for your trip.
But the excitement and rewards of exploring a cave often far larger and more spectacular than anything you can find back at home. Plus, experiencing a different life and culture will make it all worth it!
Jeffrey Glenn is the Founder of Go Pro Asia, one of Thailand’s most popular professional dive training resorts. Jeffrey is a PADI course director and technical diving instructor trainer and has over 20 years’ experience in the dive industry.
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