The Cave – Tolmolol Bay, East Misool

We’re heading to remote Misool in southern Raja Ampat for a month or so with our buddy boat “Jams”. By all accounts this is a world class diving location, so we’re very excited and can’t wait to explore as many of the dive sites as time and weather allows. There’s also several land adventures to be had, but first we have to get there…

It’s about 80NM away so we split the trip into two days. The first day we motor down the channel between the mainland and Sumpan Island, stopping overnight in a quiet little backwater channel at Seget. We anchor between the Papuan village and the Muslim village and settle in to enjoy the beautiful sunset, accompanied by the muslim call to prayer on one side and reggae music on the other!  After our experience in Sorong we’re very wary when a fishing boat comes in and anchors just ahead of us, but unlike the cook and cleaner on the rogue phinisi, this captain seems to know what he’s doing so we relax and have an uneventful night.

Life is pretty basic in Seget. The Papuan houses with christian church in the background
transport is also basic
but the dunnies have prime waterfront position
What a gorgeous sunset
and it gets better…
and better!

The next day we have enough wind to put the sails up as we cross the Ceram Sea to Misool. Woohoo! But within an hour the woohoo becomes wah – it turns out to be a horrid passage, full of squalls to 40 kts and torrential rain. It’s all or nothing in Indonesia!

Looking like drowned rats, we arrive in Tolmolol Bay, on the east coast of mainland Misool. There’s a big pearl farm operation here, so we anchor a fair way off – after all the deep anchorages it’s a treat to find a straightforward 15m sandy patch.

The next morning we motor further in towards the pearl farm, hoping to get permission to visit the cave, or Goa, that we’ve heard about.  It doesn’t take long before we get a visit from the officials – in this case, Mr “Army” who’s responsible for security for the pearl farm, plus Mr Aksin who we assume is a manager of some sort and his sidekick.  We all gather on “Jams” to chat as best we can with our broken Bahasa Indonesia and their broken English, and somehow it all works. They’re very friendly and welcoming, and after some cans of coke and the obligatory selfies, we’re free and clear to go exploring.

The welcoming committee from Tolmolol pearl farm. Photo courtesy “Jams”

We have a vague idea of where to go, so we hop in the dinghies and head off up the inland channels armed with our ipad and a possible waypoint.  The waypoint is slightly off (correct waypoint is 01 57.119S, 130 22.083E), but we finally find the well-constructed jetty at the entrance to the cave. It’s low tide so it’s a bit of a clamber to get up, but then it’s an easy walk to the cave, which is partially submerged. 

Off to find the cave
I think we found it!
hmm – low tide may not be the best time to visit
well-constructed steps up to the cave entrance
Photo courtesy “Jams”

Apparently this is an ancient and sacred burial site, so you’re asked not to swim or snorkel. We don’t find any skulls or bones, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless, literally and figuratively.  I couldn’t go all the way in as my shoes were too slippery on the wet rocks, so if you plan to go, wear good shoes and don’t forget your torch!

OK cave adventure done…tomorrow we’re off to Balbulol and the first of what we hope are many diving adventures.

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