For anybody who enjoys extreme sports, cave diving is one not to be missed. Underwater cave diving combines both scuba diving and caving and there are some truly amazing places to go, like the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula. However, as impressive and a wonder of nature as the cenotes may be, I somehow don’t class them as caves, as they seem to miss all the little passage ways that regular caves have, and you can generally see the sky above you of course.
The Great Blue Hole – Lighthouse Reef, Belize
Anybody that has engaged in extreme sports that have something to do with water will probably have heard of the Great Blue Hole. It is a sink hole that is actually perfectly round and made of limestone. It is quite large and a favourite place for divers who are trying to achieve their PADI Deep Diver certificate. The blue water is breathtakingly beautiful and the sink hole opens up into a cave with gorgeous corals and stalactites. Best of all, the Great Blue Hole is home to a very large school of sharks.
Emergence Du Russel – France
The Emergence Du Russel is an adventure equally exciting for highly experienced divers and amateur divers alike. The entrance itself is at a considerable depth, and the cave then splits into two tunnels. The second tunnel is only accessible for those who have their Deep Diver certification, as it drops to 70 meters, but the first tunnel only goes to 10 metres, making it the perfect place to find out whether or not cave diving is for you.
Mill Pond – Marianna, Florida
Mill Pond has a total of four caves open for diving, being the Hole in the Wall, the Shangri-La, the Jackson Blue and the Twin Cave. There are also many side passages, so you can spend an entire day (if not more) diving these caves. The water is very clear and the temperature is more than acceptable, so this can be a very enjoyable dive. However, a wetsuit or dry suit is advisable nevertheless.
El Cenote – Matanzas Province, Cuba
This is a really impressive cave, particularly if you know that it was once dry. There are some beautiful stalactites that were created during the tropical rainstorms that are typical in Cuba. The cave, now once again filled with water, is an incredibly beautiful experience thanks to these stalactites. An interesting little factoid about El Cenote is that a brand new species of fish was discovered here, and you may be lucky enough to spot it. However, if you don’t spot this fish, there are many other species here that do not occur anywhere else in the world.
The Alghero Caves, Sardinia
There are actually more than 300 caves in this area of the coast of Sardinia, so you could technically spend a full year diving here and only just see them all! Thirty of these caves are classed as large sea caves, with the Nereo Cave being the largest in the whole of the Mediterranean Sea. It has the most fantastic stalactites formed in so many different shapes and sizes that bringing an underwater camera is an absolute must.
Blue Abyss – Mexico
The Blue Abyss lives up to its name: it is incredibly blue. There is probably no bluer water that you would be able to find anywhere else in the world, certainly not as a cave diver. If you are able to dive in the Blue Abyss, however, you need to consider yourself as a privileged lover of extreme sports. This is not because you are not allowed to dive in the Blue Abyss, it’s because it is almost unfindable. The maps that were drawn up of the area are incredibly inaccurate as they were drawn up by a team of people over a number of years. Make sure you bring an underwater compass as well so you are able to find your way back!
Chinhoyi Cave – Zimbabwe
There are many reasons to go to Zimbabwe and there are plenty of extreme sports that you can enjoy there. Make sure you start by checking the travel advice with your local embassy first though, to be on the safe side. Chinhoyi Cave is worth the visit, but only accessible to experienced cave divers. The bottom (which is very warm) is 120 meters deep and each tunnel regularly splits off into three or four different directions, meaning you can very easily get lost. The history behind the tunnel is fantastic: they were once dried and the tribal chief Chinjoyi used the caves to hide himself, his people and his belongings from raiders. That should give you an idea of the size and complexity of this cave!
The Cuzan Nah Loop – Sac Aktun
The Cuzan Nah Loop is the longest underwater cave system in the world and it is adorned with the most beautiful decorations you have ever set eyes on. The best part is that it is right off the side of the dock, meaning you will have no struggles to get there at all.
The Blue Holes – Bahamas
The Blue Holes really are only accessible to very experienced cave divers, who are really comfortable in the world of diving extreme sports. The Blue Hole is made up of an incredibly large network of caves and the currents through these caves are very strong, as salt water is literally pumped through some of the passages. This is a definite place to bring a diver’s lamp, as there are plenty of areas where no natural light will filter through and you will find yourself in complete darkness.
Abismo Anhumas Cave – Benito, Brazil
This is the cave where dreams can come true, at least for those extreme sports lovers that are still fully in touch with their inner child (most of us extreme sporters are!). The reason why this cave dive is one of the ultimate cave dives is that you will need to be lowered whilst being suspended in a harness. In order to dive here, you must be certificated by the Brazilian authority, the IBAMA as a PADI certificate on its own will not be sufficient. The dive is worth it though and you will find it to be one of the most beautiful sites you have ever laid your eyes on.