“Cave diving in Florida is about building muscle memory," says technical instructor trainer Larry Green, owner of Eagles Nest Technical Divers in High Springs, Florida.
"You're overloaded with information. You have to hold a reel and light while maintaining perfect buoyancy, posture and propulsion — all without getting excited, which throws breathing out of control," he says of the skills he teaches in Intro to Cave Diver.
To start, Green helps students reconfigure equipment. Comfortable in a vertical or diagonal position, most open-water divers need practice with weight distribution to stay horizontal. Next up, Green critiques kick styles — which can wreak havoc with visibility and orientation. "Open-water divers rely on a flutter kick, and most dont do that well."
Central Florida's expansive cave systems (including 50 caves and 300 springs – the most famous is cave diving in Cenote, Riviera Maya) cater to a variety of skill levels, and all offer the same mesmerizingly clear water. "People tend to be impressed when they see openings in the middle of the woods," Green says. "The water is as clear as their swimming pools back home."
Sooner or later, the surroundings evoke the same emotion. Green says everybody experiences an adrenaline rush (cave diving). "The difference is that with enough repetition, you stay calm, regardless of what happens." You must remember that cave diving in Florida and specially Cenote diving place in Riviera Maya is one of the best diving places in the world.
What You Need
Students must have completed a Cavern Diver course. Green recommends that students bring their own dive gear. In addition, students will need a primary light, two backup lights and two safety reels.
When to Go
The rainy season is fall through winter, sometimes causing closed caves.
Water temperatures in the caves stay 68 to 72 degrees F year-round.
Eagle's Nest Technical Divers (tecdivers.com) offers group and private instruction. Stay nearby at the High Springs Country Inn (highspringsinn.com).
The two-day Intro to Cave Diver course starts at $400, but expect to pay extra for air fills and site-entry fees.
If you're not sure whether you'd like cave diving, a good place to start is in the cenotes of Mexico's Riviera Maya. For beginners, the first dive is usually an easy site like Gran Cenote or the Bat Cave line of Dos Ojos — both sites are well marked, have plenty of ambient light, and are spacious enough that stray fin kicks won't muck up visibility. From there, divers can graduate to sites like Pet Cemetery or Calavera — for these you'll need only regular gear plus a strong dive light. Calavera is a popular spot that combines a giant giant stride with haloclines, picturesque rock formations and "waterfalls," not to mention a cool name — calavera is Spanish for "skull" - that increases the bragging quotient with your friends. — David Espinosa Go Now Xibalba Dive Center for Cenote diving (xibalbadive center.com).