Green Grotto Caves
Green Grotto Caves
Green Grotto Caves - between Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay
Green Grotto Cave and Runaway Cave
The "Green Grotto Caves" are filled with stalagmites, stalactites, light holes and ceiling pockets. There is also a natural wishing well and hollow rocks which act as natural drums. The caves sport many formations which resemble familiar objects, your guide will point these out to you on your tour.
The main feature of Green Grotto Caves is the "Grotto" with an underground lake which can be found at a depth of 36 meters below the surface. The lake is crystal clear and incredibly still, on first viewing the lake you may not even notice it it there as it provides a perfect reflection of the cave roof above. The lake is connected to the sea through a series of underground channels, as a result the lake rises and falls with the sea level.
The Wild Caves
There are sections of the Green Grotto Caves where very little exploratory work has taken place. These are known as the "Wild Caves" and are off-limits to tourists.
Watch out for the bats!
The modern day inhabitants of Green Grotto Caves are bats! Many bats have made their homes in the dark crevices found in the caves. Bat excretions (know as guano) are rich in nitrogen and make a good fertiliser. In the days of the buccaneers, the guano was collected from the caves and used as an ingredient in the manufacturing of gunpowder. Because of the explosive nature of the guano, it was dangerous to carry naked flames in to the caves so early explorations were made in the dark.
Guano build-up can still be found in the caves - this is one of the reasons that visitors are issued with protective headwear (the guides also advise visitors to close their mouths when looking up at the bats)!
History of the caves
Your guide will explain the rich history of the caves, telling the story of the people who have used the caves for various purposes over the years. The discovery of cave paintings, tools and fragments of pottery indicate that the original inhabitants of the caves were the Taino Indians who would have used the caves for shelter. The next know inhabitants were the Spanish who, at the time of the British invasion of Jamaica (in 1655), hid in the caves to avoid capture. There is an underground tunnel which links the caves to the sand at Runaway bay. It is believed that the Spanish used the tunnel in their attempt escape the Island and flee to Cuba. Runaway slaves have also used the caves to hide from their former masters. During World War 2, Rum barrels were stored here for safe keeping by the Jamaican Government.
Because of its varied uses over the years, Green Grotto Caves have been known by many names, including Cave Hall Caves, Rum Caves, Dairy Caves, Runaway Bay Caves, Discovery Bay Caves, Dry Harbour Caves and Hopewell Caves.
In recent years the main chamber of Green Grotto Cave was used as a disco! Parties were frequently held here. However, the cave is no longer used for these purposes as it was feared that the heavy vibrations of the sound systems were causing damage to the structure of the cave.
In 1999 the caves were purchased by the Urban Development Corporation, UDC (a Governmental organisation) to develop as an eco-tourism attraction. The UDC have invested heavily in the site to make it a world class tourist attraction.
Green Globe Certification
In February 2003, Green Grotto Caves became the first caves in the world to be granted a Green Globe certification. Green Globe is a global environmental organisation which runs a benchmarking and certification program for sustainable tourism. The caves were also the first attraction in the Caribbean to be granted the certification.
The rules of the cavesThe following rules must be observed within the cave
- Plan your caving attire, so that you will be safe and comfortable (this should include sensible shoes, and sunscreen as some of the tour takes you outside)
- Touring the cave without the protective headgear provided will be at your own risk - you will be required to sign a waiver if you do not wish to wear the headgear
- Do not litter the caves
- Do not break off or disfigure the delicate cave formations
- Do not smoke in the caves
- Persons touring the caves must be accompanied by a tour guide.
Trivia - James Bond
The Green Grotto Caves feature in the James Bond Film - Live and Let Die. The caves were the setting for Doctor Kananga's subterranean base on the island of San Monique. The scene where Bond's submarine emerges from the underground lake was filmed in Green Grotto Cave.© 2008 Jamaica Travel and Culture .com