Sawa-i-Lau Caves: Fiji’s little gem of adventure

DestinationSawa i Lau caves Fiji
Listen to Sawa-i-Lau Caves: Fiji’s little gem of adventure

Did you know about the Sawa-i-Lau Caves in Fiji? If you didn’t, here’s all you need about this little gem of an adventure while on your Fiji holiday! For first time visitors as well as repeat travelers, these caves are a must experience in any holiday itinerary to Fiji.

What are the Sawa-i-Lau Caves?

Set in the remote Yasawa group of islands, the Sawa-i-Lau caves are a series of limestone caverns hollowed out by waves over time. They were originally formed underwater and then by tectonic movement were pushed to something around sea level a few hundred years ago. now, these caves are half submerged and offer adventurous travellers a chance to swim in little secret pools under huge naturally formed limestone caverns. Of course, there is a little bit of daring involved, but what would be an adventure without that?

Sawa i Lau caves Fiji
Interior of the Sawa i Lau caves in Fiji.

How do we get to Sawa-i-Lau Caves?

Even the island, is an attractive little gem of a forest covered paradise. From nearby resorts like the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, Yasawa Island Resort, Viwa Resort and others in the island chain, the caves are but a short boat-ride. But the caves can also be accessible from the mainland for daytrips, or with a short seaplane charter.

From the Blue Lagoon Resort, a scenic boat trip up to the Sawa-i-Lau caves treats travellers to serene sights of tiny, forest-covered isles lined with powdery white sand beaches – they’re 4K wallpaper stuff, seriously.

After getting off the small jetty, there will be a friendly Fijian tour guide to help you with your bearings outside and inside the cave system. Also, please sign up for a tour guide. Because, even if travellers have researched the caves and ‘blueprints’ of it endlessly, being in the cold waters in darkness is unsettling. And in an unfamiliar place.

Take a guide, enjoy the tour.

And here’s another reason why to trust a guide. Beyond the main cavern, there is another cave that has been blown up over the ‘worldy’ wide Web. Its limestone roof has been cracked, letting in a stream of sunlight – which makes the cave and the waters glow like a Hollywood movie set. That one, can only be accessed by swimming through a narrow, completely lightless tube of water. If you haven’t done it before, most peoples’ brains would rebel at voluntarily swimming into a deep, dark watery tunnel. Unless… you have a guide who stuffs a pool noodle into your arms and points the right way. The guide will also tell you how long to swim, when to break upwards and an assurance that there will be someone at the end of the tunnel to greet you. Quite the life affirmation in one tour, we say!

Drone view of the Sawa - Lau caves in Fiji
Drone view of the Sawa – Lau caves in Fiji

Legends behind the cave system

Legends behind the cave system
The sacred Sawa-I-Lau Caves also have earned their fair share of legends and lore. First off, these caves are known as the resting place of Ulutini, the 10-headed ancient Fijian god. Before entering the cave system, it’s a common practice to ask for his blessings. To enter his house, that is.

There’s also another yarn about a young hotheaded Fijian chief who fell in love with a lass. As with any good love story, their passion was not kosher – the girl’s hand had been promised to a rival chief no less. So, our hero snuck her here until the tempers cooled and then they went off to live happily on another island. The end. As far as legends go, it’s a nice story.

What’s so great about an underwater cave?

For one, sheer Internet fame! The Sawa-i-Lau caves are set in the Yasawa island group, the home of the famous Blue Lagoon. Of the movie? Brooke Shields? (Light bulb!) An adventure in their own right, the caves have been carved from continuous wave action. For another fact, the island chain of Yasawas were considered holy and therefore simply banned for anyone outside Fiji. That is, until the last 50 years ago when the village chiefs decided to allow some visitors. The islands are beautiful, riotously so. And so is this cave system. It was even a little bit dangerous earlier, when the climb and the descent into the caves had no guard rails, no guides and no jetty. It’s much safer now, and therefore worth a day’s trip and back.

Drone view of the islands in Yasawas, Fiji.
Drone view of the islands in Yasawas, Fiji.

Other Cave Systems like this

Of course, there are other bigger, better examples than this one in Fiji. One can head over to Hawaii’s Na Pali Coast cave, a behemoth of a limestone formation that is simply gorgeous in its own right, the Algarve cave system in Portugal and who can forget the To Sua Ocean Trench in Samoa! But this cave pool system is beautiful in its own right and holds a special place in the Fijian culture.

Check out more blogs on Fiji if you’re in the mood for travel research. In fact, have you read about kava – what we call as South Pacific’s answer to alt-alco bevs?

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