Guests pass through a seacave in tender

One of the best coastal wilderness cruise experiences – Sea cave exploration

One of top things to do in Southwest Tasmania is to explore the sea caves lining this remote coastline. These incredible natural attractions are a real highlight for our guests on a wilderness cruise through Port Davey.

Our guests are able to visit these caves on a short tender excursion from the mother ship Odalisque. There are two cave locations we can explore – The sea caves lining the Breaksea Islands, a strip of islands which line the entrance to Port Davey, or the caves lining Berry Head, a section of coastline further inside the entrance to Port Davey

When the weather is calm – very little swell and wind – we can take guests right into these caves. It’s quite an incredible experience.


On Board Owner and skipper Piet van der Woude is often at the helm for these wilderness expedition cruises and to take people through these caves is one of his favourite things to do.

“I’m probably the only person that’s taken a dinghy through a couple of these places, the experience is quite amazing.”

“Passing through one of the bigger caves on the Breaksea Islands, we had probably 200mm on either side of the dinghy to go through. I think the water underneath was about four meters, and the ceiling was probably another three meters above us. It was about 70 meters long, it was just incredible.”

The walls of these sea caves are the most amazing colours… vibrant reds, oranges and purples. The colour of these lichens are chosen by Mother Nature to make photo synthesis easier in the dark conditions.

To enter these caves safely, the weather must be just right. Strong winds or big swells can make it tricky to manoeuvre the tenders in a small space. Master mariner van der Woude has years of experience manoeuvring a dingy in his previous life as an abalone diver. During the off season, van der Woude employs his boating skills with the Australian Antarctic Division, when he helps unload and reload the Aurora Australis icebreaker during the resupply operations of various Antarctic bases and Southern Ocean islands, including Macquarie Island.

One guest describes her cave cruise experience: “Pieter gets us as close to everything as he can – whether its pulling up next to a family of sunbaking seals or finding a way into the caves tucked into the bases of cliffs.

At one point it’s like threading the eye of a needle as he waits for a wave to carry us through a small opening between rocks. The swell lifts us through, assisted by slimy kelp and sea foam.

At times my heart races and my knuckles whiten. But with Pieter’s prowess on water, we always feel safe.”

To discover more about the highlights of our Port Davey Expedition Cruises, visit the destination page.