For a fascinating and entertaining insight into traditional Fijian culture and history, Naihehe Cave is a wonderful natural attraction in the stunning Sigatoka Valley. With a name that literally translates to ‘a place to get lost’, join a guided tour and explore this wondrous cave that has roots in pagan worship, tribal warfare and cannibalism.
Despite some of the eerie images its history may conjure, the cave is actually quite comfortable and offers easy access with plenty of fresh air and no creepy crawlies or bats. After journeying through a colourful patchwork of fruit and vegetable crops known as Fiji’s famous ‘salad bowl’, the entrance to the cave is a lovely tropical garden setting.
Home to Fiji’s Sautabu people during the tribal warfare days, Naihehe Cave was a retreat where the tribe could hide from enemies. A kind of natural fortress, the characteristics of the cave prevented attackers from entering en masse, ensuring the last of Fiji’s cannibal tribes were able to defend themselves from a variety of enemies over the centuries.
Once you enter the cave you will discover the large main chamber which originally had secret access to the top. With the help of wild vines, the tribe were able to access food sources such as fruits, yams and other root crops as well as freshwater prawns and fish. Even if they hid in the cave for a long time, the tribe was able to sustain itself.
Following the lantern-lit chambers you’ll come across ‘Pregnancy Gap’ and the incredible Grand Cathedral Chamber. Other natural features of the cave include flowstones, sparkling stalactites and stalagmites and underground springs. However part of what makes this cave so special is its history, which is evident in its priest chambers, ritual platform and even a cannibal oven.
The Christian influences seen in Naihehe Cave stem from early colonial times when missionaries arrived in Fiji, bringing with them the Christian religion. At the time, there were just 12 chiefs in Fiji and the paramount Chief of Nadroga was the first to convert to Christianity. He then commanded all his people to become Christians.
It was said that whomever wished to enter Naihehe Cave must ask the permission of the Bete (priest) and anyone who tried to enter without permission would automatically become stuck.