Land of the Sea Caves
Do West Timor’s ocean caves lead to inland ones? Liz Rogers decided to find out.
West Timor has fresh water gushing into the ocean from cave entrances along the shoreline. We had high hopes that they would connect through to Goa Oehani, Umbu’s Shaft and two other entrances in the same area, allowing us to swim 2 miles from the coast completely underground.
At high tide, these ocean caves suck salt water in. Our dives were carefully timed with slack water to avoid being unable to enter against the flow — or worse, unable to exit. Each entrance gave up about 300 feet of divable tunnel before splintering into tunnels too small for a diver to pass through.
Although we thought the furious flow would have carved out huge tunnels, it seemed the soft limestone was working against us again. Pushed by the tide, the water started in medium-size entrances, splitting into smaller tunnels and then permeating through the bedrock. Diving the ocean caves added to our knowledge of the island’s geology, but they weren’t going to easily give up the miles-long connection we were hoping for.