We left the sanctuary of the Blue Lagoon early to get up to snorkel the caves at lunch when the big cruise ship takes their customers back for lunch. There was a large front moving in... since we were only 7 miles from the caves we had to scoot up there and then get back down to Soma Soma for a protected anchorage... We are so close that there is no way we were missing this. This was one thing I knew they would really like to do.
We all entered into the first cave and swam around in the dark with our flashlights... then Chris led the expedition to go to the far cave. I took the girls back out to the main chamber with Arielle and we waited for them all to come back out safely. I was so proud because this time Tristan, Alexia and kava all made way back into the last cave. This isn't an easy pass and you have to be comfortable holding your breath for at least 30 seconds, swimming under water in the dark making turns through the caves. Chris and Alexia found large salt crystals hanging from the ceiling and brought a few out to show the girls. Science... check!
|small girls waiting for the rest to go under to the far back cave|
After the caves we boogied on down the coast. There was a large front heading our way and the more northern you are in the chain the stronger the winds are because they get funneled through the two main islands of Fiji... So we headed south looking for a good anchorage for the projected 30+ knot winds that were predicted to hit that evening. We decided to go back to Soma Soma and anchor for the night there and possibly do a night snorkel on the reef that we like so much. Unfortunately the winds did hit and it made it a bit dodgy to tackle a night snorkel... Phew.... I am not sure I am up for that yet... I was going to try but I must admit I was scared.
|First Fish caught... skip jack.. we were going to release it but it drowned on the way in because it some how got its tail tangled in the fish line and we had to pull it in backwards.. weird!|
We decided to leave Soma Soma Bay for a more protected anchorage for the next 2 nights... We headed around the corner to Natuvalo Bay and hunker down for the winds. It was quite a bumpy ride over the bay is protected by a highish mountain that really protects the anchorage. It was so nice to be tucked in there. You could see the winds were hitting the water 400 yards away from us and outside of the bay you could see the white caps... where we were anchored it was like glass and there was no swell... The bay has 2 backpacker resorts on it and the people there were so welcoming. We explored the beach and George in one of the resorts invited us in for Tea Time at 3 and we had a lovely cup of tea sheltered from the rain overlooking the bay.
|Rainy day games on Shine (George and Tristan playing table tennis)|
The weather cleared enough for us to make our way south. We left early so that we could stop at the Manta Pass to try one last time to see the mantas... as we went past we quickly realized how challenging it would be to actually snorkel the pass with the wind and waves ripping through the channel so we moved on... Then we wanted to go into Navandra and stay the night but again once we got there we soon found out the anchorage was way to rolly and we had to head out. Then we wanted to take him to Castaway Island but that was also not really possible to enjoy, so we went another 6 miles south and ended up at Mana Island. Our friends on Javalot were there and told us it was just a beautiful spot to be in... Mana Island is a very protected anchorage. It has a well marked channel going through the reef that surrounds the anchorage with crystal clear waters... We ended up staying there for 2 nights to enjoy Alina's 7th Birthday. The weather had cleared up and the sun was blazing and there was a slight tropical breeze... it was heaven..
We got the sailing dinghy down and Kava claimed ownership and sailed everywhere with Arielle and the kids... It was really fun to see it being used again and in such a beautiful spot.
Amaia and Alina on recess break from school
The girls were really cute. After seeing Kava sail they wanted to jump in and go too. It was fun at first and then Alina wanted to come back, she was getting grumpy because Amaia was having a hard time finding the right wind angle to get back to the boat. After about 30 minutes... she finally made it. Now Amaia understands you can't sail directly into the wind and why we have to tack back and forth to go upwind.
|Alina getting grumpy|
|Alina really grumpy|
We had a great time snorkeling at Honeymoon Island before going to Cloud 9 Restaurant. Honeymoon is a small island and only a day stop to snorkel the reef around it... it is incredibly beautiful with lots of varieties of coral and fish life... last time we were here a sea snake swam 2 feet away from Tristan... My friend Kathi had asked if we had seen any evidence of the coral bleaching that they are talking about in the news lately... I hate to admit my ignorance but I wasn't familiar with it... so after a few google attempts I am sadden to say that I now see it everywhere we go... it seems that here in the Yasawa Island chain there are many good snorkel spots left but you definitely see the evidence of decay... We have found at every snorkel spot up and down the Island chain many Crown of Thorns Starfish that are wiping out the coral reefs by eating all the coral... and then also the Bleaching... it is really sad to see it happening before your eyes and there isn't much we can do about it.
|Evidence of "Coral Bleaching" and if you look close there is a Crown of Thorns starfish underneath eating the coral.. Both are killing the reefs down here.|
|This is what happens when Chris and I both have cameras... hee hee|
Kava started to do backflips off and then of course Chris and then last but not least Tristan. I couldn't believe he did it. Kava taught him how to and after that there was no stopping him. Tristan was addicted.
There was a little light left so the kids decided to go wake boarding. It was Kava's first time and he nailed it... it isn't that easy getting up being pulled by the dinghy for an adult.
|Kava Wake boarding for the first time and Ariel took this picture of him in the sunset..|
With the night being windless we were able to launch a few of the floating lanterns successfully. Only once did we have one drop down close to the dinghy and Kava had to lunge to grab the flaming lantern and toss it into the water... Thanks Kav!
Woke up in the morning and it was like a swimming pool. The waters were so still that the sun was being reflected off the bottom.
|Kava and Ariel morning snorkel/swim at Cloud 9|
|Amaia Day Dreaming|
Of course we couldn't leave without going by the famous surf spot Cloud break and stayed there for a bit for some surfing and lunch.
They say 3 times a charm.... After 2 caught fish... first a skip jack and the second a barracuda, Kava caught our first edible fish on the way the way to Cloud Break and we had it for dinner that night.
After 2 caught fish... first a skip jack and the second a barracuda, Kava caught our first edible fish on the way the way to Cloud Break and we had it for dinner that night.
On our way to Musket Cove we came across a large pod of dolphins (around 30) and they were very playful. We ended up going around and around and they kept swimming to our boat to play in the wake the hulls make. It was so fun to see them. We haven't seen a large group like this since Mexico.
Ugh... water up my nose.....
Finally... Dolphins and not just one.. but a bunch and playful with us!
On our way to Denaurau to drop Kava and Arielle off we stopped in the middle of passage to go swimming in the deep waters. We shut off the motors and drifted for a little bit while we all jumped in and swam around the boat.... Kava was a little hesitant because you never really know what you will be swimming with or what may pass by you. After seeing Alina and Amaia go running to the front of the boat and jump in and then Tristan do a back flip, Kava jumped right in. It is still an eerie feeling to be 300 feet of water, but how can you pass up the beauty of the clarity. It is truly just blue!
We are so sad to see Kava and Arielle leave us... It was so much fun having them with us and share some really special moments... We miss and love you guys tons and are looking forward to seeing you at christmas.