The Yasawa islands (Fiji) have beautiful beaches, crystal clear bays and acres of coconut trees, they also have a little gem called, The Sawailau Caves.
A trip to the caves will set you back around $80 FJD per person depending on what island you are travelling from. The price includes a boat taxi taking around 30 minutes to the cave where you will swim and explore for roughly 45 minutes before returning.
Just before arriving at the cave you’ll note the beautifully clear water around the small island. Straight away you can tell this place is a little different, a little special. The boat anchored up, we grabbed our swimming gear and off we went. We walked up a couple of flights of stairs to the entrance of the caves.
Sawailau consists of two caves, the first has extremely clear water, you can see straight to the bottom. We were told that you can drop a coin and see it sparkle at the bottom but you would never be able to dive down and get it again. This was very true!
The first thing you notice when going into the water is how cold it is, and then how fresh it tasted due to the rainwater. We swam to the centre of the cave where there is an opening above which allows light and rainwater into the cave.
We swam and dived, going as deep as we could until our ears popped. Upon doing so we noticed an Eel – The tour guide explained that both Eels and Snapper live in the cave due to the mixture of fresh and sea water.
We were then directed to enter the second chamber of the cave. We were given the instruction, “You’ll need to hold your breath for 5 seconds – Just swim towards the light!” And off our guide went, under water into a black hole. He provided a small light to follow.
With that we received a confirmatory pat on the shoulder from our water taxi driver and under we went and swam for the little light. We made it and popped up into darkness. Once all five of our group made it through, we continued deeper into the cave.
There was one torch carried by the guide whom we all followed as we swam in the pitch black water with eels and snapper beneath. After couple of minutes we reached the end of the cave, this is where the guide informed us of the caves history.
The legend goes that when the Fijians would kill and eat each other the cave was not filled with water – It was used as a hide out to make weapons in preparation for battle. When Fiji was colonised and Christianity was spread to the people, it resulted in them no longer indulging in cannibalism. From then onwards the cave was no longer used as a hide out. It quickly and miraculously filled with rain water and was never again used with a bed intent.
After our lesson on the caves legends we swam back shouting as we went and listening to the echo bounce off the cave walls. We dove back under and through to the main chamber of the cave where we again attempted to touch the bed of the cave to no avail. And before we knew it, it was time to go.
Its a great place to visit but you need more than 45 minutes, we’d suggest going for around 1 ½ hrs. Other than that, make sure you take a dollar coin with you so you too can attempt to dive to the bottom and pick it up.