We purchase a tour from Mata because Mike (Bassethound, who I “met” prior to the cruise through a series of emails and phone calls) recommends him. But customers are in tight supply today and Mata doesn’t have enough for his boat, so we are added to another group. Of course this makes me nervous because I had already ascertained that Mata had all the right answers to my most crucial questions: Do you have snorkeling gear and will I get to see the entire lagoon?
All I can do is hope for the best.Our fellow passengers are a lively group, loudly clapping and singing along with the on-board entertainment. . . .
Frankly, I’m far more interested in the breathtakingly beautiful world all around us.
Our first stop is for manta ray feeding and petting.
I’m not sure this is something that should be encouraged, but I hop out into the waist-deep water anyway and soon the rays begin circling around. Our guide will be feeding them and they clearly know what is to come.
I’m surprised when one of the rays first brushes against my leg. It’s as if a piece of velvet floated by.
The boat captain catches a few and flips them over to let people see them and hold them – I feel sorry for those guys, as they clearly don’t appreciate that sort of attention. However, it isn’t bad enough to keep them away and they continue to swarm around us, mixing in with brightly colored fish and even a few small reef sharks.
Some of the rays really are quite assertive, willing to slide up against us and give us a pat as they go by to remind us that they are here for the food!
And then we are back on the boat, zipping through the lagoon again. . .leaving the rays to the next boat to come along with a cooler of small fish.
Ray feeding is followed by a way-to-quick snorkel in an area called the “Aquarium.”
Based on yesterday’s snorkeling, I am prepared to be disappointed. . . yup, the same clean sandy bottom periodically punctuated by a big coral head. This doesn’t look promising.
(But having a good mask today makes me realize that yesterday wasn’t a fluke: I now can put my face in the water without any panic or hyperventilating – somehow between our trip to Hawaii a couple years ago and now that fear has completely gone away. Now, if only my tendency toward motion sickness would vanish as well. . . although I am out here today on a small boat without sea-sickness patches, so maybe there is hope on that count too.)
Having no fins today, it takes me awhile to swim around to the other side of the boat.
Wow! The coral isn’t as exciting as that in the Red Sea, but the fish are amazing! They move around me in swirling schools, allowing me to float amid them.
Too soon I am directed to say good-bye to my fishy friends.
This definitely goes on the places-I-need-to-come-back-to list!
So now I am back to observing the lagoon from above the water, which isn’t a bad thing either. It is so beautiful here. . . although I think I could do with a few less over-the-water bungalows.
Lane says they look like a wonderful place to stay.
Ok, He’s right, some of these do look REALLY nice. It would be pretty fun to stay in a spot like that. I still think a 40’ sailboat would be better (and better for the landscape), but a bungalow over the water would be ok. Maybe Jarvis has finally purchased a winning lottery ticket for the office and when I get home I will find that I can afford to come back here and spend some time in one of these bungalows!
Instead of giving us our fruit juice on the boat (fruit juice seems to always be included in these sort of tours no matter where you are in the world), we pull in at a pavilion on a motu just inside the fringing reef.
From the shore I can hear the waves against the reef. It can’t be very far away. I REALLY want to walk to the other side of the island and see how close I can get (Lane says in places you can walk on it), but it’s pretty clear that we are not supposed to leave the area we are in so I am grateful that the view is fantastic.
Then we are back in the boat, zipping back toward the dock at Vaitape and the end of our tour.
Sign me up for a return trip!
Previous post: In Port on Bora Bora
Next post: Afternoon on the Pacific Princess
All Tropical Island posts