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Blue Holes, Andros Island, Or How to Get Really Freaked Out While Swimming

Blue Holes, Andros Island, Bahamas
Instead of a weekend filled with painting (indoors AND out--in 99 degree heat!), tiling, grouting, and cleaning out the garage, I'm going to pretend that I spent the weekend out doing something fun and awesome and adventurous. Let's all live vicariously though my next post in the Andros Island, Bahamas series I have going on, shall we? 

As I've mentioned in a few of my earlier posts, I went to Andros as a part of a geology class while I was at Clemson. Even though I wasn't a geology major (far from it!), I found the class absolutely fascinating as it combined the geological history of Andros with studies about biology, culture, geography, and plant life on the island. 

The fact that it came with a two week visit to Andros didn't hurt. 

One of the coolest things that I learned about the geological structure of the island is that Andros is made up of limestone. That's a really soft, porous rock, so you can imagine that the pounding of the tides and the rainfall and all of that causes the rock to break down over time. 

In the places where the tide had worn out caves under the island and rainfall has weakened the land on the surface, entire sections of the island can collapse, creating these vertical shafts that link up to the cave system underneath the island. These shafts can be hundreds of feet across and hundreds of feet deep--at the surface, there's freshwater, and if you scuba dive down, you'll encounter the salt water thermocline. 

These blue holes are naturally occurring throughout the island, and, as a part of our all-encompassing tour, we visited two of them. 

In theory, blue holes are really cool. 

In reality, they are really, really creepy. 

I, for one, don't like water where 1) I can't touch, and 2) I can't see the bottom. This has nothing to do with my swimming skills (as I'm actually a pretty decent swimmer) and everything to do with what might be in the water with me. (More on that in a second.)

The first blue hole that we visited was a gigantic one. At almost half a mile wide, Church's Blue Hole is basically a lake with sheer sides. 

Church's Blue Hole, Andros, Bahamas
Because of the way that the blue holes are formed, there's only one way in: jumping. No easy wading for the scaredy cats among us! 

At this point, I was still super wary about getting into a place where I didn't know what was below me, so I nominated myself as the official photo taker. It's a good thing that I am oblivious to peer pressure because one of the teachers and I were the only ones not to get in the water. What I rebel I am, hanging out with the teachers and such.

They were all supposed to be wearing lifejackets, but somehow, the jackets ended up as floating diapers on most of my classmates. 

Later in the trip, we went to a second blue hole: Uncle Charlie's. This one was much smaller with much steeper cliffs, and it was in the middle of the forest. 

Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole, Andros, Bahamas

Unlike Church's, Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole had a rope swing entrance. I didn't want to be the class pariah again, so I got ahold of myself, closed my eyes, and swung on out.

I didn't die, I didn't forget to let go of the rope, and nothing attacked me upon entering the water. Dare I say, I might have even enjoyed myself. But only a tiny bit.

Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole, Andros, Bahamas
Another one of the girls in the class swings in while the rest of us cheered her on!

After a few minutes of splashing around, I got out and warmed up in my towel (we were there in March, and the weather wasn't exactly blistering). One of the guides told us that the blue holes were places where island bad people often throw in bodies to make them disappear. AUGH! AUGH!

And to make it even worse, the guide also told me that in Uncle Charlie's, there's a dead scuba diver down there in the cave system that links up with the blue hole.

Didn't I tell you that I hate water where I can't see the bottom?!?

The cave system is popular with divers, but it can be dangerous because 1) it's a cave system (did you ever see the movie Sanctum???), and 2) it's tidal. I am seriously claustrophobic, so you won't find this diver in any caves ever. No way. No how.

I really hope that the guide was joking, but I wasn't brave enough to ask any more...

Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole, Andros, Bahamas
Even if you don't want to get in for a dip, the blue holes are incredibly interesting from a geological perspective. There are several tour companies that will take you by both Uncle Charlie's and Church's if you find yourself on Andros. 

Do you like aquatic adventures? Would you go swimming, snorkeling, or diving in one of the blue holes?