My heart was thudding in my chest as we treaded water in 150' depth facing the rock-face. Jamie was on my left side and Adelle, a young Australian woman on my left. I looked down and could see the black hole of the cave wiggling beneath the surface of the water. A kind of excitement welled up inside me and my breath shortened. Before I could think too much about the fact that I was diving into a dark cave with no idea how long I would have to hold my breath for before I came to the air pocket inside, we'd dived together into the darkness.
We dove down three meters and then swam about five meters across, the rock above us, the inner surface shimmering before us. We surfaced and took a deep breath as much for wonder at the place as for the relief of air.
The cave was spacious inside, the rock ceiling reaching up and then dangling down in stalactital form. There was a high platform with enough space for someone to live on and as I treaded water looking around, Adelle told us the story of William Mariner and his bride to be. He had fallen in love with a Tongan princess when he arrived in Vava'u from England. Her father, the king, didn't approve and so William whisked her away and hid her in the cave for two weeks before they left for England. She became the first Tongan to ever go to England.
Inside everything was reversed. It was dark apart from the wobbling light, the exit to the outer world. The waters would gently rise and fall with the coming tide and as it rose, we all got a funny feeling in our ears and the whole cave would momentarily fog up before the waters dropped a few seconds later. Our goggles also fogged up with the pressure of the air being forced up in a sandwich between rock and water.
As I swam out, I looked up and clinging like puddles of mercury on the entrance ceiling were pockets of air. As we surfaced outside again, all I could say was 'Wow! That was so cool!'
We must also say a thank you to Claire O'Callaghan who also came with us to Mariners, took the amazing photos posted here and kindly let us use them on our blog.