The Caves

It's called Cockpit Country. About a hour's drive or so from Montego Bay in Jamaica, Cockpit Country is a combination of limestone forests, remote cliffs, cascading waterfalls and mysterious caves. Rugged and arduous, the area is often considered an island within an inland due to its extreme biodiversity in the midst of a region world-renowned for its beaches.

Exploration in the forest is all well and good, but it's really the caves that are the jewel of Jamaica tourism here. In fact, deep in the caves Jamaica never seems further away. Nowhere near the white sand beaches and reggae music that are the staples of Jamaica tourism - you will find all that has melted away and been replaced by the fascinating underground chambers laid before you. Here is where you"ll find Rock Springs - it's the cave in Jamaica most often chosen for novices.

While it is not absolutely necessary, it is probably in your best interest to get a guide for any spelunking trip. An experienced guide is priceless on these trips, and many can be set up through your hotel or as part of a package tour. For those disturbed by bats, you may want to look elsewhere for fun – you have to share a lot of narrow spaces with these harmless creatures. And they are not shy about flying directly into your face.

But Cockpit Country does not have a monopoly on the caves – Jamaica has plenty of other sites to get down and dirty underground. Between Discovery Bay and Runaway Bay you'll find the ancient Green Grotto Caves (also referred to as the Runaway Caves). There is a reason that this is the cave in Jamaica that experienced spelunkers flock to. The daylight fades behind you as the maze of rock formations lead you ever downward. Eventually you find yourself stepping at the opening of Green Lake. Many feet below the surface you can hitch a boatride, further exploring the rich stalagmites found underwater.

Of all the caves Jamaica's history is intertwined with this one the closest. It's first inhabitants were the Arawak Indians who used the intricate chambers for shelter. Numerous examples of pottery and stone tools have found deep inside the cave"s recesses. Later when Jamaica was a British colony the caves were used as a hideout by the Spaniards who were being driven out of the country. The main cave in Jamaica was also used by many escaping slaves who went into hiding here, thus the name Runaway Caves.

While many are unable to tear themselves away from all the beach activities the island is famous for – those more interested in the history and other natural phenomenon on the island should take advantage of this small pocket of Jamaica tourism. There are a few other sites where you can find caves, most notably just on the outskirts of the city of Port Antonio.

The Caves

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