|Sawa-I-Lau Cave Map - Not to scale! :-)|
The caves are really three sections. The first is the open air cave that you enter the water in, and that has an open cathedral ceiling to the sky- this provides all the light you need. The entry is very easy thanks to a solid, but rusting, ladder that helps you in to the water. There is a secret on land walk through, which you have to clammer up some rocks to access, and I have shown it on the map, but I havent done it personally- I just watched the Javelot family make their way through and emerge out of a different location. We are saving that for next time.
Almost directly to the right of the stairs and on the center-ish of the western side of Cave #1 is a slight rock jutting out that once you swim to, and look under, you can see a wide opening that leads to Cave #2. For these caves, and #3, you will need a good underwater flashlight, as they have no alternate light sources. In Cave #2, the locals have crafted a nice square "float" made out of 3 inch PVC tubes, which gives you something to hold on to, as you explore the labyrinth of Cave #2. If you dive underwater you can see several other exits back to Cave #1. What is surprising is that once you are back a bit in Cave #2 you can actually get quite disoriented quickly and you will find yourself looking around trying to figure out where you came from and how to get back. Its not quite that dramatic as its not really that big, but you will have the sensation, and you can certainly bring along some wool to spell out, as if you were hunting for a Minotaur (Greek Mythology reference).
We had heard about "Secret Cave #3", and as shown on the map, its not that hard to find, it just takes some intestinal fortitude to scout out the tunnel several times, and finally take a leap of faith that you can make it there, and that you'll find air, or that you'll at least have enough air to get back. I think the swim is probably 20-25 seconds, and you want to swim down 6-8 feet first. Many folks take wetsuits in to the caves, and for this section they aren't that helpful, as you tend to float up to the top of the tunnel, and waste air and energy kicking down. Essentially the tunnel is a slight right, then two left hand turns approximately 70-90 degrees each. The Cave is well worth it, as its almost the largest round "room" of all of them, and has a smaller back section that has some salt stalagtites starting to form.
We'll be back to scout out some more, but hopefully this helps fellow cruisers coming after us. CHRIS