If ye be fascinated with the idea of buried treasure, look not to the pirate's lair but rather in the deeps of Davy Jones' Locker.
Land-based Geocaching -- using GPS technology to mark and locate hidden caches anywhere from deep in the woods to urban streets -- gets a unique aquatic twist with Dive Caching, an underwater version of the game/sport you can enjoy playing in Caribbean destinations like Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas as well as in the Florida Keys.
“DiveCaching is a simple in-water activity that can be conducted almost anywhere, regardless of visibility or dive conditions, allowing divers to explore new sites and visit favorite locations with a new eye for adventure and the excitement of discovering underwater treasure,” says Tom Ingram, executive director of DEMA, the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association. “It also creates the perfect family outing when combined with land-based geocaching or social activities, and allows non-divers to join in the fun.”
The Caribbean Is a Divecaching Hotspot
The fun begins when divers situate a cache somewhere underwater, marking the spot with GPS coordinates (taken on the surface at the dive spot) so that other divers can find it. Cache information is listed in an online database at www.opencaching.com; some caches are accessible only to SCUBA divers, while others can be reached by snorkelers or free divers, as well.
Each cache includes a logbook where visitors can record their name, as well as (usually) some sort of token treasure that discoverers can keep. Custom also calls for visitors to leave an item of their own for the next diver to find. Caches are stored in environmentally friendly containers, and caches typically include items like collectable coins, pins, key chains, or other goodies.
A variation on the game is called Waymarking, where divers mark points of interest (such as manmade items or natural formations) and divers photograph themselves at the site and then record their visit at the www.waymarking.com site.
Caches can be found all over the world, but the Caribbean is a particular hotspot, especially Bonaire, which is one of the region's premier dive destinations. Leading Bonaire dive resorts, like Caribbean Club Bonaire, Capt. Don's Habitat, and Buddy Dive Resort, have placed caches in the surrounding waters, as have dive operators like Dive Friends Bonaire.
DEMA is a major booster of DiveCaching and sponsors an annual Diving for International Treasure Challenge; divers who find four virtual caches located in the Caribbean are eligible to win a $5,000 prize.
Dive resorts and outfitters that participate in DiveCaching include:
- Belmar Oceanfront Apartments
- Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn,
- Buddy Dive Resort
- Captain Don’s Habitat
- Caribbean Club Bonaire
- Dive Friends Bonaire
- Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino
- Tropical Divers
- VIP Diving