The myth behind the exotic Hawang Cave

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Local children show off their skills jumping from the cliff into the brackish water pool. They would happily accompany and guide tourists who visit the cave. (Photo: Pramitha Hendra)

IO – The Hawang Cave in Maluku is one of the amazing tourist destinations located on Small Kei Island, precisely in the village of Letvuan, about 15 kilometers from Tual, the capital of Southeast Maluku. This cave is best known as a hidden gem, and it has fascinating myths behind it that will make your trip all the more exciting. 

Hawang itself means “ghost” in the local dialect. Most people in Kei Islands believe that Hawang Cave is haunted. 

Before you plunge into Hawang Cave, you should know the unique story behind it. According to one of the local guides, there is a stone in it resembling a male hunter who holds a spear and two dogs. 

According to the popular myth in the islands, the man went hunting wild boar with his two dogs. When they chased it, it bolted into the cave and suddenly disappeared. Exhausted, the man drank the water in the cave and was surprised that it tasted very bitter. As he was both upset and disappointed, he swore profanity in the cave. As a consequence, he and his two dogs were cursed and turned into a stone. 

No one knows for sure when this cave was found. According to locals, this cave was discovered by elders in the Kei Islands ages ago. This cave is actually connected directly to the Evu spring— the largest in the Kei Islands—through an underground river. 

While it was thought to be haunted by the local people in the beginning, over time its scary reputation started to fade into oblivion as a new belief took shape. The cave is now considered to be a sacred place where many people come to meditate. 

Indeed, women in the islands believe that expectant mothers must enter the Hawang Cave if they want to have a safe delivery. Furthermore, there is also belief that the crystal-clear water in this cave can grant youthfulness and help one find his or her love. Not surprisingly, many people come to this cave with different motivations and beliefs. 

Apart from these myths, swimming in the cave’s brackish pool becomes one of the main attractions offered for tourists visiting the cave, just 24 kilometers away from the island’s main gateway, Karel Sadsuitubun Langgar Airport. 

In this cave, tourists can swim freely between stalactites and stalagmites. From the entrance to the cave, the brackish water pool can be easily found with its turquoise water. Sometimes the gradation changes between tosca, light blue, and dark blue. The water is so clear that the bottom of the cave can be visibly seen from the edge of the pond. 

In the middle of the cave, there is one stalagmite that rises high like an earthen pole. It separates the area with deep water and shallow one. The deepest part is 3.5 meters deep while the shallower side only has a depth of 1.5 meters. 

Tourists who wish to swim in Hawang Cave will be usually accompanied by local kids. They would happily guide tourists to dive along the relief walls inside the cave. One will also be treated to sight of the kids playfully jumping off a cliff into brackish water pools. 

Hawang Cave can be reached using public transportation from Langgur Market with final stop in Leguan Village. It will pass through the Hawang Cave along the route. The fare is just Rp 7,000 for one-way trip. (Pramitha Hendra)