Dangerously beautiful: 4 unique cave diving sites

If you’re seeking a thrill, add cave diving to your list

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Cave diving combines the thrill of scuba diving and with the excitement of exploring a cave; it’s a challenging activity even for experienced explorers.

At these four sites — some of the most popular spots for cave diving — experts welcome explorers and adventure enthusiasts to take advantage of nature’s rarest beauty. Wherever you dive, the advice remains the same: never dive alone, prepare for the unexpected, and use proper equipment.

Here are four of the most visited cave diving experiences in and out of the U.S.

Indian Springs, Florida

Also known as Sherlock Springs, Indian Springs is located south of Tallahassee, Florida. With more than 1,000 freshwater springs found in Florida, the water in Indian Springs is fed by the largest and deepest aquifer in the state.

You’ll need a Full Cave diving card, a Trimix certification, and proof of 100 past cave dives to dive this cave. The surrounding area also offers plenty of nature trails, rivers and dry caves.

Nereo Cave, Sardinia

The Nereo Cave is the largest underwater cave in the Mediterranean. You’ll discover the cave’s entrance 30 meters below the surface, below the cliff of Capo Caccia. Divers — new and experienced — from all over the world, travel to this unique diving opportunity every year.

To go on this excursion, you must have an Advanced Open Water certification, but otherwise Nereo Cave is perfect for less experienced cave divers.

Anhumas Abyss, Brazil

A popular winter destination — December to March is the tourism high season in Brazil, Anhumas Abyss is known for its crystal-clear waters. Divers generally have around 60 meters of visibility in the caverns. Guided tours bring 18-25 divers at a time into this underground lake.

You’ll need an Open Water Diver certification to participate in dives, but the area is also popular with snorkelers and lies within Brazil’s most popular region for ecotourism.

Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole, Florida

The Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole in central Florida has everything an extreme sports enthusiast could want. It’s also considered the most dangerous cave diving site on our list. At 310 feet deep, this cave has claimed the lives of 10 expert divers since 1981, according to National Geographic. The cave system is extremely tight — so narrow that divers must “squeeze and squirm through claustrophobic openings.”

Located inside the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, would-be divers must have a Cave Certification Card, GUE Cave Diver Level 2 training and a Trimix certification. In addition, no diver should enter the caves without an experienced local guide.

Cave diving facts

While breathtaking views and picture-worthy moments draw divers to caves, you should be aware of the dangers before diving into the unknown. Whether you have a guide or are making a solo trip, here are a few things to know before planning your adventure.

  • Limited visibility: Caves are offer dim, if not completely dark. Having the right lighting gear is essential.
  • Current changes: When you dive can be hugely important. Changing water currents can help make your trip run smoothly — or turn your trip into a disaster.
  • Rope issues: With the currents and visibility issues, rope entanglements are often an issue for cave divers. Ropes can easily get stuck on rocks and other debris.
  • Decompression: Decompression sickness — also known as “the bends” — can cause divers to become sick after surfacing too quickly. If not treated properly, it can be fatal.

Cave diving requires training with professionals, the right gear, an understanding of the location you’re diving into and lots of practice.