We have been here just over a week, and only on Saturday did we venture out of Neiafu Harbor. The town of Neiafu is the biggest town in Vava'u, with lots of bars and restaurants catering to the cruising community. They always have some event going on, whether it be a rugby game, bingo, a lecture on whales, pizza night, etc. All of the cafes have wi-fi so it is not unusual to go in to meet your friends at the bar for a good internet session.
Neiafu is a nice place but it is also a nice place to get out of. On Saturday the Vava'u Regatta (see last blog post) set up a race to Ano beach where a full moon dance party was to take place. Unfortunately there was absolutely no wind for the race, so after 3 hours of going 1-3 knots, I talked Dad into to turning on the motor so we could get to the bay this century.
Although it was raining for most of the afternoon, it cleared up at night and there was an epic dance party on the beach - complete with a DJ, fire dancing and techno light show - until about 2 AM. Some of the local Tongan guys got a bit rowdy, but I do not think there are parties like this too often in Tonga, so they had to make it count.
Ano Bay was nice, but after two days we decided to head back to Neiafu, mostly so that I could finish my (damned) online dive course and get my certification done. On the way back we stopped at Euakafa Island, which my friends on Merkava affectionately renamed Euafaka (You-a-focka). Euakafa reminds me more of the Tuamotus more than any other place we have been since. This means that there was bright blue water surrounded by vibrant reef full of different colored coral, tons of fish, sea turtles, and a shark or two. As we motored over to the reef to snorkel we saw huge splashes in the distance from humpback whales breaching out of the water. But by far the coolest part of the snorkel was hearing the whales sing when I dove under the surface. They were faint but distinct whale songs.
Unfortunately the anchorage at Euakafa is only a day anchorage (not good to stay overnight at) so we had to move on before night. In the afternoon we headed back to Neiafu, mostly so that I could get internet to finish my online dive course. After not studying for a year, sitting in front of a computer processing information and answering questions has been incredibly difficult. Not to mention that I was doing all my studying in a bar/cafe/restaurant with extremely slow internet and friends stopping by to share a beer or whatnot.
Miraculously I was able to finish the course (scored 97% on my final exam! (with the help of Yuka)) and tomorrow I start the fun part - the actual diving. Although I am not certified yet, Mark, Yuka and I decided to celebrate by going on a dive to Swallows Cave this afternoon. I did not have my own tank, but shared a tank of air with Yuka and used her secondary regulator.
The cave was stunning. The entrance is about 15 feet deep and the inside of the cave goes to about 50 feet. The coolest part about the cave was being in the back of it in the dark, and looking out into the neon - blue - koolaid colored water illuminated by the sunlight. I did not have my camera with me (it would have broken from going too deep) but I am sure you could Google "Swallows Cave, Tonga" for some pictures. Not only was the water amazing but when I surfaced I could hear the bats in the cave chirping to each other. When we exited the cave we swam through a little tunnel to get out that was maybe 4 feet in diameter and 20 feet long. It was dark in the tunnel but I headed for the bright blue light and everything was fine. In fact, everything was very, very cool.
Tonight I said goodbye to my friend Lars who is heading to Fiji tomorrow. I am a bit sad to see him leave, but that is how things are out here. Friends come and go... but there are always new friends to be made and old ones to meet up with. I look forward to it all.
At 9/13/2011 1:13 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°39.79'S 173°58.90'W
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