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Monday after errands we took off from Suva. We enjoyed the hiking but were anxious to get out, it’s not the most pleasant place to be. Our destination was Astrolabe Reef, where not many cruisers head.
Sailing to Astrolabe Reef
We sailed to Bequ (pronounced Benga) and anchored at the top of a long bay. We planned on using this spot to jump off for Astrolabe reef on Tuesday.
It was a good thing we didn’t have anything big planned. It rained as we came into the pass, as we anchored, and well into the night. We had a quiet day on the boat, perhaps to rest our tired muscles from all the hiking? We played card games and watched a movie.
Tuesday morning we left for Astrolabe Reef, and we were super excited to catch a Mahi-Mahi! Our friends on Quixotic had given us a cedar plug to try, and sure enough, we hooked zero Marlin and landed one delicious Mahi-Mahi.
About Astrolabe Reef
Astrolabe Reef surrounds Kadavu Island (pronounced KAN-da-vu, another invisible N), Ono Island, and several other small islands. The whole area is pretty off the beaten path from the rest of Fiji – we only saw one other cruising boat.
After sailing all morning we made it through the pass and anchored just after lunch at Dravuni Island. The timing was perfect – a cruise ship was in the anchorage but left shortly after, so we made our way in to present sevusevu to the village chief and ask permission to spend time there.
It was our first sevusevu and was pretty casual. We docked LD at the nice dock for the cruise ship excursion boats, and right next door was a pavilion with about a dozen men sitting around a kava bowl. Approaching the pavilion, we presented our kava bundle by giving it to the man who greeted us and we were invited us to sit. We sat in our sulus and some of the nearby men asked us questions. The greeter formally presented our kava, which the chief accepted and then asked to see our clearance papers. We were also asked if we had anything else to give. Fortunately, I had bought some school supplies to give out. Our gifts were accepted, and the kava bowl was passed around – my first taste of kava. It pretty much tastes like it looks – muddy water. It makes your lips and tongue tingle.
After a little while, one of the men asked if we wanted to leave, and we said that we would like to walk around the village – no problem. A few more words between the men and chief in Fijian and we were good to go.
We walked along the beach and through the village. The main source of money seems to be the cruise ship. The beach was lined with small stands were people must sell wares to the visitors. It was quite empty for us – I’m guessing everyone is ready for a breather after the ship is gone.
As we walked a man waved at us and invited us into his porch for more kava. David and Kyle took a few more bowls as we chatted. As we got up to leave I asked if we could buy coconuts from someone, and the man said he sells coconuts to the tourists and had more available, so we bought 4 green coconuts for $10FJ.
Back to Starry Horizons, we busted out snorkel gear and pool noodles. Kyle tested out his gear, he hadn’t snorkeled in over 15 years, so it was good to do a test run. Then – coconut cocktails!
Hiking to the Top of Dravuni
Wednesday we went back ashore to hike up to the top of Dravuni. The hike only took us about 20 minutes, but the sky was clear and gave us a spectacular view looking out on the barrier reef and passes.
After lunch, we grabbed our snorkel gear and swam out to the green marker for a fantastic snorkel. The water wasn’t very clear, but the coral in this spot was very alive. Our big spot was a white-tipped reef shark, which I pointed out to Kyle and got to hear an unmistakable “HOLY SHIT” through his snorkel gear.
This was a TOP 5 snorkel for David and I, and we are so glad Kyle was with us to enjoy it!
After our second night in Dravuni we moved over to Tamara Island, a small, deserted island to the west and south of Dravuni. We spent the afternoon snorkeling, following the shore north and were rewarded with excellent coral. Our big spot was a blue-spotted ribbontail ray hiding underneath a coral head. We went ashore at the beach around the corner and walked along, picking up shells and scaring crabs. Our plan was to just stay for the day there and then head over to another island, but the view of the horizon was clear to sunset and we wanted an undisturbed view.
The next morning we motored over to Vuroleva Island, another deserted island. We had read that manta rays come into the pass to the north of the island during high tide, so we took LD out hoping to find them, but no dice. A dive boat from a local resort was out looking too, but they didn’t see any either. Nevertheless, we hopped in to drift snorkel, with David and I taking turns in Little Dipper. Snorkeling was still good, and Kyle and David spotted two sea turtles.
That afternoon the guys went to the beach to throw a Frisbee around, and then we left that evening for an overnight sail back to Viti Levu.
We went ashore for happy hour and dinner at Rhum-Ba, watched a bit of the All Blacks v Wallabies Rugby game, and then, sadly, it was time for Kyle to go home. Kyle was a great guest and we miss him already!
PS – do you notice some improvement in our underwater pictures? Kyle brought us some new accessories for our go pro!