Cave Diving- Fatu Hiva by Brian

On one of our many dinghy rides on Fatu Hiva we spotted an interesting hole cut through the rock cliff face just outside the anchorage in Hanavave.  During afternoon cocktails our friends on Mojombo mentioned an underwater cavern they spotted while spear fishing in the area.  We decided to return the next day with our dive gear to have a closer look.  Unfortunately Brady had to sit this one out because of his fresh tattoo- no swimming for a week.  Chris from the crew of Mojombo rounded out our group.

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We set our dinghy hook on the steep cliff face and began to drop down the perfectly vertical cliff.  The visibility was incredible, easily over 100 ft, and the water temperature was a comfortable 82 degrees.  For the first time we’re now able to dive in shorts and shirt.  Now wet suit required!

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Each and every outcrop on the cliff was the home of an undersea creature ranging from bits of coral to shrimp to eels poking their menacing teeth out at us.  We descended until reaching the bottom at 90 feet and began to swim on a bearing taking us directly towards the hole on the surface.  Within a few minutes we spotted a huge arch easily spanning 60 feet with a height of 30 feet.  Eager to explore we hovered over the rocky bottom and did our best not to stir up sediment.  We had great light entering the arch and this continued some ways into the cavern.  This was Erin and my first overhead environment dive so we were appreciative of the openness and light that the large opening provided us.

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As we went deeper and deeper we spotted rays of light illuminating the floor and walls in front of us.  Looking up we saw an incredible sight- a 50 foot by 15 foot hole in the ceiling showering us and the cavern with sparkling light.  Countless years of waves and current had bored a second hole in the cliff face connecting the arch we found at the bottom to the original hole spotted from the surface.

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Pressing on we explored until the light from the ceiling hole faded and our dive lights were necessary.  The cavern got darker, narrower, and more spooky foot by foot until we decided to do an about face and swim back to the comfort and openness of the light.  As we returned to the light we were greeted by Mark and Corey from Mojombo showing off their awesome free diving skills.  These guys were  swimming down to 60 feet, through the hole in the ceiling, and back out the bottom of the cave we had entered before ascending to the surface!  No tanks, just fins and masks.

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We returned to the surface through the hole in the ceiling and found ourselves 100 or so feet from the dinghy.  This was a pretty incredible experience, made even more so by the fact that the nearest dive shop or charter is on Hiva Oa, over 50 miles away by boat (no airport here).  It’s very doubtful that many people have had the opportunity to dive here.