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Scuba Diving Ils de Pins, New Caledonia
Dive Site: Grotto de la Troisieme
Location: Ils de Pins, New Caledonia
Description: Cave dive
Depth: 7 metres (23 feet)
Visibility: 50 metres + (165 feet)
The Grotto de la Troisieme, 3rd Cave, or Devils Grotto as it is sometimes referred to, is a stunning cave dive. Located in the rainforest against a lush green overhead canopy the entrance to the cave is almost hidden by nearby trees and roots. As you enter, the cave drops down quite a steep incline and you're required to descend around 30 metres of fairly slippery rock before you actually come to the surface of the pool which is well below the surrounding ground level. The air in the cave is slightly stagnant but lovely and cool, a refreshing change as you've just trekked about 100 metres in full dive kit through the rainforest.
I made arrangements to do this cave dive through Kunie Scuba Centre and as this was to be my 1000th dive it seemed appropriate for it to be something special. I have to mention Albert Thoma (I understand Albert to be a part owner / partner in the dive centre), who upon receipt of my request to make this specific dive at a specific time not only got caught up in my excitement, but insisted on personally taking me to the cave. At the age of 70 Albert, donned in his black oval mask and orange ABLJ (horse-collar) was nothing short of a 'diving legend' in his own right. Not only did he make all the arrangements to exactly tally my 1000th dive between my other boats dives, he also guided the dive both overland and through the cave system.
Driving down the uneven path, around fallen trees to the rainforest was only part of the adventure. After donning kit we trudged through the undergrowth before making our way under tree roots and down into the dank cave. Once at the bottom we slipped into the small pool and immediately the water was gin clear. Passing through a small, slightly spiralled entrance we squeezed between stalagmites and stalactites which had been forming over thousands of years before the cave became flooded. The cave is not deep at all and as we moved past the rock formations it opened up into a chamber with more stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Along a small passage and heading slightly back on ourselves, the cave opened up into a larger cavern. We carefully investigated the smooth sides of the cave with their orange and white rock formations. Settling in the back of the main chamber and turning off our torches we could see another small opening where a beam of light penetrated through a 'window' above. Although shallow, we managed to spend considerable time hanging in the clear water admiring the many formations and even found a small air pocket, before exiting through the smaller chamber and out between the stalagmites and stalactites. Albert - your enthusiasm is truly inspiring!!!!
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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