Familiar Bays, New Adventures

Sunday 17th September 2017

The wind continues to howl past the boat for the fourth day running and we are beginning to feel a bit tired of it. This morning hoping for a drop in the winds we came up from Blue Lagoon to Buasali Bay and are anchored off Sawa I Lau. It is incredibly beautiful and although the island and the reef are protecting us from the swell, it is still extremely blowy and the fetch rough enough to make dingy rides rather wet, swimming from the boat unpleasant and use of the kayak tricky.

Sawa I Lau is unusual amongst the Yasawa Islands as instead of being composed of volcanic rock it is a slab of limestone that has been thrust upwards by past geological activity. Being limestone it’s cliffs have been eroded to form an encircling notch, reminiscent of the islands in Tonga and the rocks are scarred with caves, cracks and vertical grooves. We took the dingy for a closer look and marvelled at the fascinating shapes created by a millennia of erosion.

Sawa I Lau

Sawa I Lau is where we came a month or so ago to visit the caves, in fact we have been revisiting, with Sasha and Julia, many of the places we have been to before but we are finding plenty of new and interesting things to do. At Manta Bay for instance, we found a different snorkelling spot just off the beach along from the resort and had one of the best snorkels we’ve had all season. Instead of the normal walls of coral, the area was dotted with bommies, these were in turn surrounded by fish. The reef fish were larger than we often see and in the bright afternoon sun and clear waters their colours shone out. We watched a blue spotted ray emerge from its sandy resting place, a giant moray eel slink from one rocky hole to another and a pair of pennant banner fish dance in unison.

Blue spotted Ray

As always the rolly conditions quickly drove us north to Blue Lagoon, but even here and despite the windy conditions we found plenty of new adventures to entertain us. About a mile and a half across the Lagoon from the anchorage is an mangrove, lined inlet. Undeterred by the conditions we dressed suitably for a wet ride and set off to to take a look. At its head there is a small village, a tiny resort nestled amongst the trees and a little way up the valley a fruit and veg farm. The village vegetable boat had topped up our fresh supplies the day before so we didn’t venture inland but we decided we needed sustenance before we faced the wet upwind ride back to Raya, so we headed for the resort. We were welcomed first by a metre long Octopus that was swimming in the shallows where we landed the dingy, it swam straight under the dingy for cover and spread its legs out into the sand in all directions, cartoon like, to stay still in the current that was washing over it, as we drew the dingy away it elongated itself and headed off into deeper waters.

Octopus on the beach at Waitui Basecamp

After wading from the sand bank across a mini Lagoon to the resort, Waitui Basecamp, we were enthusiastically greeted by the young Australian owner. We spent a pleasant couple of hours drinking beer, enjoying the rather different view and eating a slightly dubious baked rice and vegetable lunch.

The next day, accompanied by the crew from Crazy Daisy, we took the path to Lo’s Tea House on the windward side of Nanuya Island. As the track reached the summit the full strength of the easterly wind hit us. At about 25 maybe 30kts it felt quite strong and we all remarked how it was impossible to imagine the 185kt winds that have just hit the Caribbean.

Windward side of Nanuya

After the hot walk, down by the beach the breeze was very welcome, Lo’s donuts were as sugary as always and we enjoyed the cleansing effect of the lemon tea, before settiing off on the return journey. Instead of continuing on the track across the top of the island we turned left and followed an alternative path that dropped down towards a valley. The upper track passes through mainly grasses and areas of sugar cane, the valley path had many more trees, gullies were crossed by makeshift bridges, it had a much more jungly feel. After about half an hour and just as we were beginning to feel like intrepid explorers the illusion was broken as we emerged out from the tress into the tended grassy area of palms and huts at the beach used by the Blue Lagoon cruise ship. A ten minute stroll up the beach led us back to the dingy.

Intrepid explorers

Hoping to sail south tomorrow, fingers crossed for the Mantas and less wind.

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