Toledo Stories and Tips

Swimming the Blue Creek Caves

Cave Entrance Photo, Toledo, Belize

The pictures and stories about visits to the cave really piqued my interest. You might remember from a previous journal that I'm not a great swimmer, so I was a little worried about whether I could handle this adventure. The guides and my friends were great and in the end this was one of the highlights of my trip.

It is about an hour drive to Blue Creek from the Punta Gorda area. We parked at the river, picked out life jackets and started the 20 minute hike towards the cave mouth.

Parts of the rock path along the river's edge were quite slippery and we had to be ever vigilant of the fire ants walking in long trains. As we got closer to the cave, we climbed up using some tree roots as hand holds.

Once the huge cave mouth was in view, I had to wonder what is really in store. Vines dangled from the top and water rushed out. It felt a bit like being in an Indiana Jones movie.

There were some small waterfalls we had to climb over and then it was into the river. We put on our headlamps and begin swimming against the current into the cave. As we rounded the corner it started to get dark. There were a few cave bats and flying around high above us.

The current was definitely strong and I had trouble imagining trying this later in the rainy season. If one us was tired we'd find a ledge and grab onto the cave wall. Eventually the cave was completely dark except for our headlamps. It was pretty amazing to look around at the cave formations.

The further we swam, the stronger the current became. Our guides Antonio and Markus told us there was ledge up ahead beyond a small waterfall and that we would rest there before swimming out.

One by one we fought the rushing water to find a spot up on the dry edge of the cave. In the dark my friends looked a bit like bats perched on the rocks with just the illumination of the headlamps. I climbed up to join them and then we all turned out the lights. It was pitch black in the cave and the sound of the water rushing was amazing.

Then it was time for the relaxing part of this journey. We slid back into the water and floated with the current. It simply carried us back to where we started.

The most striking memory was when we neared the mouth of the cave and could see the sunlight outlined by stone. It was just spectacular!

As we stepped back onto dry land, I think we all felt an incredible sense of accomplishment. We hiked back down the trail and had lunch at the edge of the river.

While we enjoyed our food, some Mennonites drove up in a horse and buggy. It was surprising to see the typical striped shirts, overalls, pants, hats, and long beards I might see at home. They were there hoping to sell some watermelon to our guides for the lodge kitchen.

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