While we were in Mallorca, we managed to source a babysitter for a day (a first taste at ‘day care’ for him and for us) so we spent the six hours wisely, as any non-work-bound parent should: we went sea caving! While you’re still getting accustomed the fact that we didn’t just go to the pub (we were impressed with ourselves too), I’ll tell you about our adventure.
There are three things Mallorca has a lot of: windmills, German tourists and caves. In fact, between the crystalline coves and beaches slathered with sun seekers, the coastline is honeycombed with breathtaking limestone and sandstone caves. There are hundreds of them on the island, in the island and under the island! The craziest cavers and divers are still discovering more of this dark and mysterious world every day. Some die for it, literally. Lucky for us, there are a few accessible natural cathedrals for the adventurous (but not so devoted) explorers too.
When I worked on a boat in Mallorca about ten years ago, I got to know my captain’s family very well and was lucky enough to see them again when we returned this time around. Over that decade, my captain’s son, Callum, had since grown from a cheeky, lanky teenage boy into a cheeky, beautiful young man and was earning a crust by taking adventure-seekers trekking, rock climbing, canyoning and caving. Not a bad way to earn a living, you have to admit. Witty and I were immediately jealous of the intrepid tales he told us ‘about work’ as we sat around his parent’s living room table one arvo, so we promised ourselves we would get it together to join him on an excursion somehow, someway!
In the end it was Callum that made it all come together. He set us up with a babysitter who was his girlfriend’s trusted cousin and professional nanny (oh là là), sourced some caving gear and insurance through his adventure sports employer, organised the perfect weather conditions with the gods, and we were off!
On a sunny morning, we packed up a Finn bag for our day-nanny and off we went, scooting across to the east coast of the island to discover Cova Des Coloms, a cave that you can only enter from the sea.
We had risen early and and arrived at Cala Romantica before all the other caving tour groups got there. From this gorgeous cove where we parked, we climbed up onto the escarpment and walked across the shrubby coastline for about half an hour until we reached our basecamp in Cala Falcò.
When we arrived, there was already a group of 15 other cavers getting ready for a caving tour, but as we were only three and feeling very VIP, we were able to swiftly hike to our own spot on the cliff face, rope up under Callum’s command, and rappel down into the sea before anyone else touched the water!
It was awesome, in the true sense of the word. I was in awe of these caves. The rappelling was fun and got the heart rate up as I probably haven’t abseiled since I was 18 (like 7 years ago). But the caves took my breath away. Once we rappelled down about 30 meters and dropped into the sea (Callum shortened the rope for us so we could literally plop in from a couple of meters in the air), we paddled into the cave’s narrow mouth which huffed and puffed as the waves sucked in and out of its entrance. We could stand here on a sandy seabed, don our head torches and comfortably receive a briefing of what to expect inside.
The water wasn’t too rough, so it was easy to duck under the surface of the sea, feel the rocky ‘roof’ with my hands above my head, and swim under the mouth of the cave, up inside the first hollow. This hollow was high, with lots of space to stand. We were led out of the water, across a large flat surface of limestone which was smooth and white, like a carpet rolled out for a grand entrance. We stepped up and over, around a cool wet wall, and into the first cathedral. Magnificent. And so it went on, more and more magnificent at every turn.
It was freezing! But we had long wetsuits and we loved every minute, every nook and cranny. We were truly so lucky to have Callum as our guide. His well executed plan to get us there early meant we experienced the silence, the haunting beauty and the magic of this place all to ourselves. While most people enjoy these caves even with 50 others in there alongside them, we got to feel a calm and spooky cool like no other. We climbed carefully, swam slowly, whispered and sang as we waded about in four magnificent, echoing cathedrals. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It felt like I was floating through history: the hours, years and centuries dripping from the ceilings and spiking out in proud crystal clusters above our heads. We didn’t take cameras (thanks Rock and Water Mallorca for most of these shots) and because of this, we didn’t feel that incessant need to snap away. Instead we just absorbed and were absorbed by this natural, mammoth beauty.
Sea caving. Mallorca. However, whenever, make it happen.