Not all beaches and sun—though there are certainly some bucket-list beaches—the Caribbean is also home to a fascinating world underground. You can go beyond scratching the surface and get better acquainted with some of the world’s most interesting, surprising geographical history.
We have gathered six of the best caves to explore when you take a Caribbean cruise. Just don’t forget to pack rubber-soled shoes! Since caves took shape over thousands of years due to rainfall, sulfuric acid or flowing volcanic lava, the floors can be a little rocky.
From Barbados to Belize, here is our list of must-see caves in the Caribbean:
Harrison’s Cave – Bridgetown, Barbados
This crystallized limestone cavern was first mentioned in historical documents in 1795. Take a drive in a 4×4 down through the mile-long system of caves to a breathtaking waterfall that plunges into a deep pool. Get ready to snap photos of all the speleothems (they sort of look like a bunch of soda straws). While you’re in Barbados, of course you may want to visit a bucket-list beach. Luckily, the beautiful Bathsheba beach is only about 7 miles away from Harrison’s Cave, so it’s a perfect spot to soak up some sun after being underground.
The Baths – Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” The Baths are a geological wonder comprised of unusually shaped granite boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter. These beautiful formations are a result of molten rock trickling up into the existing volcanic rock layers and cooling into hard crystalline granite. The boulders are so huge that they create “caves” in the gaps between them. You can walk around inside the sheltered areas and even take a dip in the warm Caribbean waters that pool here. See them for yourself!
Three Caves – Belize City, Belize
There are three stunning underground caves in Belize’s jungle that you can visit together for a spectacular adventure. First, hike across elevated bridges to reach the Open Air Cave, then trek on to the largest cave, Jaguar Paw Cave (you’ll be following the same paths that ancient Mayan shamans used to take). Finally, you’ll float through a narrow passageway on an inner tube to get into Darknight Cave, where there are light river rapids.
Hato Cave – Willemstad, Curacao
There’s quite a history to these caves, a short drive from Willemstad’s colorful city center in Dutch-influenced Curacao. Ancient peoples have left cave drawings behind (which could be as much as 1,500 years old!) amid the limestone stalagmites and stalactites. See them as part of a Willemstad city tour, and you’ll get a full view of this majestic island nation.
Crystal Cave – Belize City, Belize
Did you know? Belize is home to the most extensive cave system in Central America! Get ready to experience a real show-stopper when you visit Crystal Cave, just outside Belize City. Complete with a “frozen” waterfall column, a sacred Mayan lagoon and a glittering dam, Royal Caribbean’s shore excursion lets you experience it all while floating along on an inner tube.
Green Grotto Caves – Falmouth, Jamaica
Named after the green algae that decorate its walls, the Green Grotto Caves in Discovery Bay contain limestone caves made up of interconnected passageways and a crystal-clear underground lake. It’s no wonder why it is one of the more popular attractions in Jamaica. Toss a coin in the wishing well for luck before you leave!
Ready to chart a course for one of these underground wonders? Head here to see where Royal Caribbean’s cruises can take you and your family.