Located on Jamaica’s north coast between two towns with the romantic names of Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay, lies the Green Grotto Caves. Named for the green algae that cover its walls, the caves have a long connection with Jamaican history.
The island’s first inhabitants, the Taino people, are thought to have used the caves for shelter, and many artifacts found at the site appear to substantiate this idea. Historians also believe that the Spanish sought protection in the caves when they battled the British for control of the island in 1655.
The Green Grotto Caves provided a perfect hideaway for runaway slaves, as well as for the smugglers who ran arms to Cuba. More recently, the caves were utilized as a place to store rum, and they were used as the backdrop for the submarine scene in the James Bond thriller, Live and Let Die. During their long history, the caves have been called by many names: Runaway Caves, Dairy Caves, Rum Caves, Hopewell Caves, and Dry Harbor Caves.
The popular tourist attraction offers a guided tour featuring the services of an experienced staff member, who can discuss their history, geology, and plant and animal life. Jamaica is home to 21 species of bats, nine of which live in the Green Grotto Caves. Enjoying life in the caves are the Big-Eared Bat, the Mustache Bat, and the Jamaican Fruit-Eating Bat. These harmless denizens of the caves can be seen performing their daily activities without regard for the passing tourists. The highlight of the tour of the Green Grotto Caves is the descent down 60 steps, some 37 meters, into the innermost cavern, where visitors will see a crystal-clear underground lake.
The Green Grotto Caves are well worth visiting, even by those who may not be excited about “spelunking.” The area is safe and extremely interesting. The staff at the Green Grotto Caves plans to introduce hiking, fishing, canoeing, and picnicking activities in the near future. The staff has a strong commitment to preserving the environment, and the caves are one of the first attractions in Jamaica to be Green-Globe certified.
At present, it is recommended that visitors wear comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers. A complimentary hard hat will be provided at the beginning of the 45-minute tour. The tour costs US$20 for adults and US$10 for children aged 4 to12. The cost includes a fruit punch when the tour is over.
The Green Grotto Caves are open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM every day. For more information, visit the website at www.greengrottocaves.com or call 973-2841-3217.