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Kyle really wanted to do a tour to Nokanhui Atoll, and with it being one of the top 5 things to do in the Isle of Pines, New Caledonia, we readily agreed. We booked a trip through Nuuana Sarl, who arranged transport to Vao for us to meet the boat. We climbed onboard and took off!
We zoomed through the Baie de St-Maurice, but I noticed our captain was leaning off the side of the boat and watching the water pass by. What was she doing?? Suddenly, she turned and slowed us down. On of the guides stood up on the deck, and suddenly dove off into the water. He came up, whipped his dreadlocks, and held up a giant sea turtle! Those of us who wanted to get in and swim could. The guide held the turtle for a while, which I wasn’t too wild about. We each got a turn to pet the turtle, and once everyone had gotten a look and a touch, he let the turtle go. And that turtle…..went nowhere. In fact, he kind of had a moment with Kyle, looking into each other’s eyes.
Off we went again, this time out of the reef and cutting across the Passe de Jû to Nokanhui Atoll, and we were dropped off at the Île de Kutomërë. This island is connected to a long sandbar at low tide. While we were there, the waves washed up over the middle of the sandbar in both directions, but either end of the sandbar was a high and dry island. We had about an hour to walk around. David and Kyle threw a frisbee around and all of us enjoyed the clear water and the walk around.
Next, the boat zoomed over to a reef. We hopped in the water and our guides explained they were looking to show us white tipped reef sharks. We did see one, and also saw lots of fish and a stingray hiding under some coral.
Then it was time to move on to lunch. But, on our way to lunch, there was another spotting! We jumped in the water again to find the biggest stingray I’ve ever seen! He was about a meter in diameter, and we got to swim with him for a little bit. He did NOT hang around as the turtle did.
Lunch was Île de Nuana. A big picnic table was set up under a pavilion, and lunch was grilled while we waited. We had all selected the lobster option. It was nice to chat more with our fellow guests. We talked to three people from France, whereas all of the other 10 guests were Asian and only one or two spoke English. Apparently, there is a direct flight to Noumea from Tokyo.
After lunch, we lounged a little bit before taking off on the boats again. We went back across the Passe de Jû and were motoring around the reefs at the mouth of Baie de St-Maurice. Our guides were looking for something….our French friends translated: manta rays! None were spotted, so we went to our last stop of the day.
We were given about a half hour to walk around the beach.
On our way back to Vao, a call was raised: manta rays! We quickly jumped in and in the low visibility, were able to see the manta ray and swim with it for just a little bit. I was totally amazed that they spotted the ray because it was fairly deep and the visibility was so low. While snorkeling the surface I could only see a vague black shape. Thankfully Kyle was able to dive down and really see the ray!
Finally, exhausted, our big adventure was done. I only had two complaints about the day. Our guides did not explain anything to us very often. It was more “get on the boat”, “go snorkeling”, or “we’ll be back”. Introductions would have been nice. The other complaint was that our lobster was overcooked. I know, guys, first world problems.
HOWEVER, I have to say our captain kicked ass! There were a lot of situations where she squeezed into a tight pass in the coral or expertly maneuvered the boat so we could watch the animals. She was pretty badass!