Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bermuda Caves

[Kyle]One of Bermuda's major attractions is its caves, particularly Fantasy and Crystal caves (you can access both with a single entrance fee). We decided to get up early and take the bus in order to arrive before it got too crowded. We were the first to arrive and were part of the first group for the guided tours of the day. Bermuda is rich in limestone, and this makes for some amazing formations. We had a different guide for each cave, but each was entertaining, and the caves were spectacular.

Crystal and Fantasy Caves

Both caves are below sea level in some places, and so are partly underwater. Crystal caves had most of the walkways on floating pontoons (the caves have a tidal range). The seawater, however, is perfectly clear and has no obvious life (fish, plankton, etc), which makes the depth heard to judge (appearing shallower than it is) and for some wonderful reflections.

Both caves had giant (and smaller) caverns filled with all sorts of interesting formations including soda straws, curtains and chandeliers along with the expected stalactites and stalagmites.

The caves were discovered relatively recently (1940's) by a couple of kids playing cricket when they tried to locate a lost ball. The kids entered via a rope and a very narrow hole, now there is a much more tourist friendly entrance with stairs and electric lighting. The grounds around the cave are beautifully manicured, and resemble a botanical garden; we were very glad we went.

After our tour and our wander around the garden were complete, we still had time to spare, so we decided to walk around a nearby park before meeting the bus to return to Footprint. Blue Hole Park we assumed would be a quick and easy stroll around a relatively small park. However, it is criss-crossed with lots of trails, some of which offer beautiful views of Castle Harbour with its jagged rocks typical of the area. Others went inland to several small "ponds" and more heavily wooded and jungled areas, but what really got our attention were the caves. Blue hole is riddled with caves.

While on the main trail we tended to take every side trail available, hoping not to miss anything good, and kept finding ourselves "discovering" beautiful and elaborate cave systems and grottos. There were no restrictions on access, and some had exits far from the entrance (oh, I wish we'd taken our flashlights). Every time we'd crawl out of a cave and back into the sunlight we'd only walk a short way further along the path before discovering another hidden entrance.

We spent hours getting grubby and lost, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. When we finally emerged from our last cave, of maybe a dozen, Maryanne reminded me of our need to get back to Footprint. We took a few non-productive detours into the jungle, but eventually found a road (although not the one we were expecting). It took us a while to figure out even which way to walk to find a bus stop and for a long time we felt completely lost, but honestly how lost can you get on such a small island?

Eventually, we came up on the back side of the Crystal Caves site, and thus knew where we were again. From there it was a short walk to the best bus stop to return to St Georges and Footprint.

Blue Hole Park and its caves - with free entry, and no map, Kyle loved discovering the many caverns here


Mommy Dearest said...
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Mommy Dearest said...

Oh my gosh, this is so COOL. What great fun. As always your photos are fabulous and the stories even better. I know you're preparing to make that big journey, but after seeing what you've written about Bermuda, it seems sad to leave. And you KNOW the seasickness will get ya again the moment you head out. I know I'm not laying a very convincing argument for staying here. Wish I could do better. You must both be very excited and probably are nervous to get underway. Now that Kyle will soon be officially on leave of absence (read that unemployed), you are free to soak up everything around you unfettered by the need to return to work in a few days' time. Wow, I'm so very proud of you both.