By Andrea Romano
June 12, 2019
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There’s a place in Bermuda that’s so stunning, it's like visiting another world.

Discovered by accident more than a century ago, the Crystal Caves are a large underground cave system that got their name from the crystallized, chandelier-like formations inside them that hang above crystal-clear, blue pools.

According to the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the caves were formed during the Pleistocene Ice Age, about 1.6 million years ago. As the oceans froze and sea levels dramatically dropped, water began to seep into the limestone caves, slowly accumulating, crystallizing, and turning into the stunning formations that can be seen today.

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In 1907, two teenagers — Carl Gibbons and Edgar Hollis — stumbled upon the caves while they were playing cricket, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. When one of the boys was running to get the ball, he noticed a small hole in the ground that lead to the caves.

The caves have been a popular tourist and adventurer spot for many years, but they're much more than a family-friendly vacation activity. The caves are so awe-inspiring that they have sparked the imaginations of writers and creators throughout the years. Mark Twain was one of the first tourists to visit in 1908, calling it the “most beautiful cave in the world.”

And, according to Smithsonian Magazine, TV show creator and artist Michael K. Frith (who grew up on the island) used the caves as inspiration for his 1980's series “Fraggle Rock.” It’s not hard to imagine those scruffy puppets dancing around these crystalline rock formations.

“Caves are really like one’s imagination,” Frith told Smithsonian Magazine. “You’re in a place, and you see it and recognize it and understand it, but you know that a tunnel can lead you off somewhere else.” The crystal clear pools of the caves became the inspiration for Fraggle Pond.

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Despite it being a fairly active tourist spot, the Crystal Caves still maintain their prehistoric sense of wonder. The caves are expansive: about 1,640 feet long and 200 feet deep. The water level is usually around 55 feet deep, and it's possible to see all the way to the bottom.

Next to the Crystal Caves are the Fantasy Caves, which are an adjacent but separate system. For the most part, the Fantasy Caves are much more orange in color since they’re made up of calcite mineral deposits that resemble waterfalls.

The Crystal and Fantasy Caves are located in Hamilton Parish on the island of Bermuda, close to Castle Harbor. Visitors can take tours of the caves year round (except for major holidays), and tickets are $26 for adults and $10 for children. Many cruise lines offer excursion packages for their guests that include transportation from the port to the caves.

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