Cave diver certification required. Dives must be conducted by a qualified guide.
As they look down at the open-water basin, most visiting divers don’t realize they may be standing on an unseen part of Blue Grotto that’s larger in area than the popular cavern. While Blue Grotto Cavern is a sinkhole that only collapsed on one side, the cave is a sinkhole that never really opened up, except for two solution pipes.
Hydro-logically, the cave is downstream from the cavern. A hydraulically driven impeller augments the flow between the two, helping to keep both clear. In addition to the entrance, the cave is open to air in three places: the two solution pipes and a "well" encased in a concrete blockhouse. Human access is only available through the natural entrance and the well.
Even the most remote areas of north-central Florida’s popular cave diving sites bear the scars of decades of diver traffic. Scrape marks on walls and gouges in floors are something we’ve all become so accustomed to, few really know what an untouched, unblemished cave really looks like.
What sets The Cave at Blue Grotto apart is not only that it’s a site few get to see, but the fact in remains in as close to its natural state as possible. The rock formations are fragile. Virtually every surface is covered by a deep, undisturbed layer of silt.
Cave divers often think of a silty or muddy cave as an ugly cave when, in fact, that’s only because of all the gouges, hand prints and fin prints. When a deep layer of silt bears none of these blemishes, it can be surprisingly beautiful.
The guide corps responsible for maintaining the cave is committed to preserving this unique resource. The guides limit access, and make sure only those who possess superlative skills and abilities are allowed to enter.
The cave consists of a large room, roughly the length and width of a football field. Its most prominent feature is a large debris cone, rising nearly to the ceiling and reaching outward almost to the walls.
The debris cone creates a sense that you are actually swimming through a circular tunnel around it. Despite this, there is a permanent guideline that will take you across the top of the debris cone (see map below). In the middle of this line is an overhead fracture. Inside this fracture is an air space, where you can stick your head up and see out through one of the solution pipes.
It’s also possible to surface inside the "well". Until recently, this shaft provided the only human-accessible entrance to the cave. As you will see, this was not a lot of fun. The newly improved natural entrance makes things a lot more enjoyable.