Explore Jamaica’s Green Grotto Caves
Want to explore something different while in Jamaica? Sure, there are beaches, rivers, and falls. And there are caves. Our family explored Jamaica’s Green Grotto Cave instead of spending a day at the beach during our stop to Falmouth on a recent Royal Caribbean Cruise. Read on to learn more about the Green Grotto Caves tour, its significance in the history of the Caribbean and its role in film history.
The Basics of the Green Grotto Cave
The Green Grotto Caves tour is one of the more popular cruise ship shore excursions. In fact, our tour of the caves was part of a shore excursion for our family. We landed in Falmouth, Jamaica, and took a bus tour to the caves. Multiple buses left from our port heading to the caves. During the bus tour, our guide told us about island politics, currency, schooling, and industry. The bus trip lasts 30 minutes to and from the Green Grotto Caves.
Once at the caves, we were fitted with hard hats, protecting our heads from low sections of the cave. About 20 people went with our guide on the tour.
A Touch of History
Our guide led us into a large cavern inside the caves. It was here we learned some history of the caves and the region.
Pottery shards and other artifacts prove that Jamaica’s first inhabitants used the caves for various purposes.
The caves are not far from where Christopher Columbus first landed in Jamaica.
In the 1600s, Spaniards hid in the caves from the English invaders of the island.
Smugglers used the caves in the early 20th Century to run guns to Cuba. And the Jamaican government stored barrels of rum in the passages during WWII.
But the caves ran into disrepair and harm in the 1970s when a discotheque played loud music throughout the night, frightening the local bats away from their homes.
After this time, the government of Jamaica placed the Green Grotto caves under government protection, restoring the cave structures and once again given the bats a place to call home.
What You’ll See at the Green Grotto Cave
The caves are a large labyrinth of limestone tunnels. While there are areas on the tour with low overhangs, the majority of the tour path was in large limestone caverns and rooms where we spied stalagmites, stalactites, and other cave features. There are about 5000 feet of cave to explore that can be as deep as 40 feet.
In other words, you get to see large “rooms” of limestone with the signature cave features.
But, the tour is not in underground tunnels exclusively. Part of the tour requires you to move between cave entrances. During this part of the tour, you see the jungle canopy, native flora and fauna, and mossy rocks.
While the cave tour is fascinating and picture-worthy, the real highlight of the tour is the descent to the Green Grotto Lake.
The Grotto was featured in the James Bond film “Live and Let Die” starring Roger Moore and Jane Seymour.
Our tour guide had us envision what it would have looked like with a film crew in this small space. It must have been a sight to see the crew carrying down cameras, lights, and other film accoutrement on a steeply pitched set of slippery steps. Our journey down to the recesses of the Grotto was at times semi-perilous, and we were carrying nothing but cell phones on our journey.
Once we reached the bowels of the Grotto our tour guide turned off all the electric lights so that we could feel what in most have been like to discover the underground lake (and other parts of the cave) before electricity was introduced in the modern era.
After climbing back up those slippery, steeply pitched steps, we made our way to the wishing well, where we could look down into a vast 40-foot deep well. It is here that you can drop a coin, listen for that coin to make contact below, and make a wish. We took a picture down the well, but didn’t throw anything in or make a wish.
After the Tour
Once our journey of the caves was completed, we were brought back to the main entrance where there is a small gift shop and snack shop with beverages and light snacks available for purchase.
Our family has been on several cave tours. This one was very similar to those other tours. It was enjoyable to see the Green Grotto and learn a little history of the island and its people. The tour is $20 US for adults and $10 for children, making it an inexpensive outing for a family. And, we were able to do something in Jamaica a little different from the normal, expected excursions.
Of course, as previously mentioned, parts of the cave were slippery, and it was difficult to maneuver some of those steps given the wet, slippery conditions. It was also warm and muggy on our visit to the caves, which was unpleasant to some of our party. We are used to entering a cool cave, sometimes needing to wear a light jacket for the cave tour. Not so on this tour. In the end, we would have welcomed some cooler, less muggy conditions.
Overall, our kids enjoyed the experience and the tour. We enjoyed exploring the caves. And we especially enjoyed the bus ride to and from the Green Grotto Caves, where we learned about everything from education system to jerk chicken and Jamaican Patois (we even learned a few sentences and phrases).
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