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Caving In The Falkland Islands

On Saturday 23 April a team of six cavers from HMS NORFOLK conducted a reconnaissance expedition to the Paloma Sand Beach area of East Falkland.

This area is reputed by local legend to have been the hideout for eighteenth century smugglers and as such is well recognised to have a number of caves.

Paloma beach is a remote bay located at the North-westerly extremity of East Falkland (position South 51,25,40 West 059,01,30).  Bordered by sandstone and shale cliffs on both sides the beach is a flat expanse of white sand stretching for 3 km (see map).

Locally obtained information suggested the presence of at least one cave entrance in the rocky outcrop at the centre of the bay.

Using the ship's Linx helicopter (361, Pilot Duncan Matthews, Observer Sean Rowley), an aerial reconnaissance of the cliffs surrounding the bay was undertaken; a number of small cave entrances were noted along the base of the cliffs, but unfortunately time and tide did not allow for these to be explored.

After landing on the beach a search was made of the outcrop; two caves were identified.  One cave fitted obtained from the locals of a cave known locally as Beach Cave, the other cave was later established to central rocky the descriptions Paloma Sand be a new discovery.

Geological Features

The rock in the area is a metamorphic sandstone with a very high silica content (a full geological analysis of specimens taken by the expedition is currently awaited).

Paloma Sand Beach Cave

The cave entrance is an angled rift which slopes at about 45 degrees for a distance of 25 meters into a thirty meter bedding plane.


New Cave (named Sandy Hole by the expedition).

The cave entrance is a small (1 x 0.75 meter) opening in the left hand side of the rocky outcrop at the centre of the beach.  The cave consists of a single passageway which slopes down at an angle of 30 degrees for 25 meters.  The cave is partially filled with wind blown sand.





Although it is unlikely that any major speleological challenges visited are certainly of geological of a visit by cavers who find themselves

Permission to visit the caves should be sought from the landowners at San Carlos Settlement.

Andrew Newton
Duncan Matthews
Sean Rowley
Andy Whitehouse
Jan Portwood
Garry Langler