As the name suggests, cave diving is just that: underwater diving in partially filled caves, which offers a real buzz for those travellers seeking their next big adventure.
For cave divers the real thrill is in both exploring the immediate caves that sit on the water table, and also the ‘sumps’, aka passages, that feed off the actual caves. This adventure sport calls for both caving and diving expertise to explore the often dark and mysterious underground world. Yes it’s dark and at times chilling, but that’s part of the thrill; tackling the meandering passages and vast caves to make it to the next dry spot. These stop-offs provide a few moments to admire the interior and reflect on your achievements.
Cave divers tend to tackle long and deep sites which makes it a very demanding sport. And if you’re thinking of undertaking this activity, you should be good shape, both physically and mentally, as you’ll be subjected to long dark hours underwater. And it goes without saying that you must undertake training and also go fully equipped for cave diving. Choose a local specialist adventure sports operator that knows the dive sites and has clocked up plenty of similar dives.
Make sure you have adequate travel insurance that specifically covers you for cave diving and any other adventure sport that you may be undertaking. If something should go amiss under water, your only way out may be to retrace your journey back to the cave entrance. Follow your guide who will indicate if another exit route is possible. Pay attention to the health and safety training, although with that said fatalities are thankfully very low. Stay within your limits and if you’re more used to open diving, don’t feel tempted to stray into caves and passages.
Top 5 Destinations for Cave Diving
There are many established cave diving sites across the world, including eastern and Western Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia, Hawaiian Islands, USA, Mexico and Brazil.
Devil’s Eye Cave System, Florida - Florida is one of the most established and popular locations for cave diving and is set up for beginners. This cave system has over 30,000 feet of passages mapped out which will keep even experienced divers happy. In fact there are still unexplored sections!
Atlantida Tunnel, Lanzarote - Experienced cave divers will appreciate the Túnel de la Atlántida, aka the Atlantida Tunnel, which is the longest (known) volcanic lava tube in the world. Situated in the Spanish Canary Islands it’s easily accessible from Cueva de los Verdes at Haría in Las Palmas.
Taj Mahal, Mexico - Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has the largest network of cave systems in the world; in fact there are thought to be around 100 different entrances. One popular caving system is the ‘Taj Mahal’ which is circular with central steps. The Riviera Maya is a great base for a long cave diving experience.
The Sisters, Australia - The city of Mt Gambier in South Australia is home to The Sisters dive site which is classed as a deep cavern system. Australia is well set up for cave diving and the CDAA (Cave Divers Association of Australia) provides a comprehensive list of sites across the country, along with details and notes.
Cave of Skulls, Scotland - TV presenter and all round extreme adventurer Andy Torbet tackled the deepest cave in Scotland – the cave of skulls. The short YouTube video below shows his preparation, exploration and summary and it looks pretty scary!