Posted by: procamnz | October 12, 2008

The limestone caves of Sawa-I-Lau

After we had managed to extract ourselves from the village we motored over in the dinghy to the caves. These are set inside an enormous island of limestone. There is controversy over which clan of islanders own this treasure trove and also jealousy among the people. While we were there two boatloads of tourists arrived with over 40 people, at $10 per head. Also the Fijians sell handcraft on the beach. So the clan who claim ownership are bringing in a lot of earnings compared to other villagers. The controversy has been going on for over ten years and is now apparently t be resolved by court action. As in most places, it is the ones with the most money who can afford the best lawyers. So it will be interesting to hear the outcome.
We had to climb up quite a number of steps to get to the cave entrance from the beach and at the top was this sign. I guess some people have hard heads.

It says, “MIND YOUR HEAD DO NOT DAMAGE ROCKS

As in most caves of this origin we had to then climb down more slippery and dark steps in to the cave, ducking our heads to avoid overhanging rocks. At the bottom is a huge pool, which is about 18 metres deep and clear sea water. It is affected by the tides and is only open, we think, at low tide. We were lucky because for about the first 10 minutes we had the cave to ourselves and had a lovely swim. We had taken our dive torch and were able to investigate all the nooks and crannies. We had been told that there was an entrance under the water to another cavern but were not able to find this. We were sorry that we did not have a waterproof cover for our camera because we would have liked to take photos.

The entrance to the first cave

Later the tour people arrived en mass with masks and snorkels and we heard many different languages. They had tour guides with them and so we were able to follow as they were shown the underwater entrance to the other cavern. As a very nervous person I was reluctant to dive under, especially as we had not taken our snorkeling gear but Tony was very keen. As it turned out, although the entrance is very narrow, only a body’s width, it was virtually only necessary to duck your head under and count to about two and we were in another giant cavern. This one had only a small area where a minimal amount of light can enter, so we were very pleased to have our dive torch. It is hard to say how high the ceiling was but probably about 50-60 feet. We were very pleased that although the other tourists were noisy and disturbed our peace, we would not have found the other cavern if they had not arrived. The tour leaders, both Fijians, climbed up the rock walls several times, and dived and bombed in to the deep clear waters. They must have very sticky feet because some of the other people tried to climb and found the walls really slippery and had to give up. It was a lot of fun.
By this time is was about 11AM and time for us to move on. We are running out of time in Fiji and need to start preparing for the trip back to NZ. We had a beautiful sail back to Blue Lagoon, our stopping off anchorage for the night. When we arrived we found that friends of ours, JoAnne and Michael, from the yacht Destiny, were there. They have had a series of problems with their yacht this year and have had very little sailing time. So we were thrilled that they had managed to make it to the Yasawa’s. They invited us and two other couples for drinks that night. We had a great time and were sorry to go back to our boat. But needed some well earned sleep before heading south again the next day.

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