Travel through time and space — ok, it’s actually an underwater tunnel — to experience the magic of Blue Cave for yourself. Only 2.5 hours from Brisbane and 3 hours from Sydney, Vanuatu could be your next adventure playground and with a spot like this to explore, Joel couldn’t wait to step off the plane.

Joel Johnsson blue cave tanna vanuatu Henry Brydon ocean cave

Highlights

  • Hidden sea cave accessed by a swim-through passageway
  • Stunning light rays and an iridescent blue pool inside the grotto
  • Cliff-jumping and snorkelling nearby, with an active volcano on the same island

The Lowdown

The Blue Cave is like a childhood fantasy made real — one of those places that should really only exist in dreams. Completely hidden from the outside world, tucked away in a remote part of Tanna, this sea cave conceals a massive chamber behind a blank wall of rock. It’s made truly magical by the entrance — the only way to access the cave is to dive down into the clear azure waters at the base of a high sea cliff and into a shadowy underwater passage.

The entrance portal is quite short (only a metre or so before the surface becomes silvery again, indicating the air pocket above), but popping up on the other side feels like stepping through a doorway into Narnia. The sounds of the ocean breeze and the waves against the cliffs disappear and you emerge inside a quiet rock cathedral, echoing with the drip of water droplets.

Joel Johnsson blue cave tanna vanuatu Henry Brydon ocean cave swimmer

A shaft of sunlight floods in from the hole in the roof above your head, throwing ripples of light across the domed chamber, while the underwater passage behind you lets in just enough light to turn the water all around you a luminescent blue. And in the middle of the pool, a low rock platform, slick with cool seawater, lies right in the centre of the streaming rays of light like a natural podium.

It’s easy to lose track of time in here, floating in the pools of light and diving back and forth through the underwater passageway. If you get bored, you can always try jumping from the the high ledges of the outer sea-cliffs, snorkelling in the turquoise waters, or simply lazing the afternoon away in the hammock in the cool shade on the cliff-top.

Joel Johnsson blue cave tanna vanuatu cliff jumping ocean

Essential Gear

  • Snorkelling gear
  • Reef shoes
  • Waterproof camera

How To Get There

The Blue Cave is located on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, one of Australia’s closest Pacific neighbours. Vanuatu still feels relatively undiscovered compared to bustling tourist destinations like Bali and Fiji — the pace is slower, everything moves on island time and the smiles are still genuine. There are regular flights from Sydney (3hrs) and Brisbane (2.5hrs) to Port Vila, the nation’s capital, and from there, it’s a quick 40 minute inter-island transfer to Tanna.

Most people come to Tanna to visit Mount Yasur — one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world — the custom villages, or hike to one of the many waterfalls. The Blue Cave is on the western side of the island, just north of the airport and some of the more established accommodation options (White Grass, and Evergreen Resorts). There is a 2000 vatu fee (about $22) that goes to the customary owners of the land, Daniel and Rachel Talap, and if you want to stay for longer, they have recently built bungalow accommodation on the hilltop above the sea cliff.

The folks at Tanna Travel can help you find transport to the Blue Cave from your accommodation or the main town of Lenakel — you can either hire a ute to take you to the Blue Cave along a rough 4WD track, or catch a boat to get there by water. We recommend the latter option because it’s quicker, often a smoother ride and you get to see the rest of the coastline, which holds some intriguing caves and rock formations.

For more ideas and inspiration, visit the Discover Vanuatu website or follow the Vanuatu Tourism Office’s Facebook page.

Activities

  • Snorkelling
  • Cliff jumping

Skill Level

Beginner — tours won’t run during rough seas, and if you’re not the most confident swimmer, ask to go at low tide when the entrance comes out of the water and you can simply pull yourself through.

Duration

Half-day trip from the nearby town of Lenakel

 


Cliff jumping photo by Henry Brydon @henry_brydon

All other photography by Joel Johnsson @aesthetics.of.adventure


More adventures to fill your cave craves…

Bushrangers Caves of Mount Wagawn (QLD)

An Underground Adventure // Castle Hill & Cave Stream (NZ)

Byron Bay // Caves, Waves & Waterfalls (NSW)

Paradise Caves // Noosa National Park (QLD)