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caves of Jamaica

February 2023

Surreal caves with easy access.

Jamaica has a LOT of karst and hundreds, if not thousands, of caves. It has been fairly thoroughly explored, although there are certainly some remote caves awaiting discovery in Cockpit Country.

As the first group of cavers to visit in about ten years, we came purely for recreation - a way to just have fun caving, and not worry about mapping, egos, group dynamics and the usual difficulties of a proper caving expedition.

Myself, Suhei Eddy, Ashlee Lee and Dave Weimer spent two weeks caving here, and then a week travelling and another week canyoneering.

We teamed up with the two local cavers (and the ONLY cavers) in Jamaica to get into numerous spectacular caves. Like most caving regions, it's difficult to cave without local assistance, as existing beta is often inaccurate. 

Dangers in caves here are the usual rockfall, high flood risk, a lack of any bolted anchors in the entire country, no rescue resources, bad air, horribly itchy chiggers in our ankles, histoplasmosis, and stoned locals. In our experience, Jamaicans are incredibly friendly, but are generally curious about cavers, and often stoned. Not an ideal combination.
At one cave, a group of stoned teenagers, skipping school for the day, insistently brought us to the entrance of the cave, even though we knew the way. They sang Bob Marley songs at the entrance, and then came well into the dark zone with us. They were barefoot with only lighters and cell phones, and we had to be firm to tell them to leave. Hours later, we noticed the cave was filling with smoke. Fortunately, the cave was large and breezy; otherwise, the smoke would have been a real hazard. When we emerged at the end of the day, the local kids had built a bonfire outside as they grew bored waiting for us.

Locals also generally asked us for money near every cave. They never demanded money, or wouldn't let us pass, but, due to the massive tourism industry, locals are too accustomed to equating all foreigners as rich and generous with cash. 

All in all, however, this is probably the single best tropical caving destination in the world, as gated caves are rare, the caves are easily accessible, and maps are easy to get ahold of. For new or experienced cavers, the underground wilderness of Jamaica is a sight to behold.

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