Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Snorkeling Astrolobe reef pass and Kadavu Village

We are now anchored in Toba ni Korolevu bay off the village of Kadavu on the island of Kadavu. Both Ono Island and Kadavu Island are surrounded by the Astrolobe reef the thrid biggest reef in the world. Diving or snorkeling any of the five reef passes delivers a most spectacular array of brilliant corals both soft and hard and prolific fishes.

Navigating from Ono island down to Kadavu island was quite technical with many many reefs and isolated coral heads to avoid. The charts for the area are pretty accurate, but the 1877 survey missed a few things, yes 1877. The total trip was around fifteen nm and the first ten I spent aloft on the first set of spreaders about twnety feet above the water to enhance my ability to navigate by eye.

The water colors indicate the depth with dark blue deep water and lighter shades of blue or light brown, purple or yellow indicating shallower water. Despite our best efforts we still passed closer than we would have like to a few chunks of coral. Kathy steered and kept an eye on the computer charts and I called down small course corrections from my perch in the rigging. One benefit of my elevated perch was spotting a huge sea turtle just below the surface.

We stopped about half way at Naigoro pass and anchored for a lunch break and some snorkeling around the boat and also in the pass. The pass was superb. I attempted to spear a fish for dinner, but was out maneuvered by the parrot fish I was targeting. Maybe a good thing as we saw a decent size white tip shark which probably would have eaten any fish I speared!

Mativa dive resort is near our anchorage, so we stopped in to enquire about joining the guests for dinner. Unfortunately, they could gear up for us on such short notice so we'll be going in for dinner this evening. None the less we spent a few hours chatting with the eight guests (less than 1/3 capacity). The guest raved about their dive yesterday where they dove with a dozen fifteen foot wide Manta rays.

It's a great time to visit Fiji with tourism well below normal levels due to media hype about the coup last December. The coup was bloodless and in no way would affect a vacation to Fiji except for great deals and the fact that you'll have the place to yourself. I'd give Mativa Dive resort on Kadavu a recommendation for those looking for a two star resort offering accommodation in authentic grass huts or "bures" with a central open walled dining room, bar and veranda.

We visited the Kadavu village chief to present our "Sevu Sevu" All the villagers we met on the trail to the village were really nice and once to the village we found the chief busy mowing his lawn. We presented our gift of Kava and were granted permission to visit the local waterfalls, anchor in the bay and explore the village. We picked up a mandatory guide to take us to the waterfall and enjoyed a spectacular experience swimming in the nice cool water and chatting with our guide. On the way back we arranged to purchase some vegetables from a farmer. He offered to delivering our order to the boat including a demonstration on cooking Taro root and leaves. Like most events this one is on island time and will happen sometime in the next few days.

We took the dinghy to the local shop about a 20 minute walk from the village to explore their offerings. The shop is one hundred percent shoplifter proof as you step into a wire booth and then look through the bars and point out your selections to the shop keeper. Not too much of interest aside from some fresh eggs, potatoes and a Pepsi for a treat.

Planning to spend the next few days snorkeling and I might also inquire about a dive certification from the Mativa dive resort as the prices are really reasonable for a PADI Advanced certification.

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