We asked at the front desk about excursions to see manta rays. We had one in mind that we had read about on Trip Advisor called Pure Snorkeling but they suggested a different one that was quite a bit cheaper for the same length of time, so we went with that one and were really glad we did. At 9:00, Vincent picked us up on our beach and we were the only 2 on the boat. He is French, but spoke English very well.
So, we headed out to the manta ray spot. Apparently, they like deeper water, but in the morning, come up nearer the coral to feed on little fish. We borrowed fins from the front desk so we could move a bit faster. The 3 of us swam back and forth over the manta ‘spot’ for about an hour with sadly no luck. He said that 9 times out of 10 he finds them, so we just hit a bad day. What a workout – it felt like I was riding my bike up a hill for an hour!
Next we went to a spot with reef sharks. They hear the boat coming and think they are going to get fed, so get excited and follow the boat. When we anchored, there were 20-30 sharks circling the boat – very cool. So, what do you do in that situation? Jump in the water! There was one stingray in the crowd and a school of about 50 bright yellow fish approximately 5 inches long. After a while, they realized we didn’t bring food and dispersed.
Now onto a spot with more sting rays. There were maybe 6 or 7 of them, including one very pregnant female. Vincent told us that the females are perpetually pregnant. He stayed in the boat and took a few pictures of us while we swam with them. We keep expecting them to come right up to us, but they aren’t. I think they expect to be fed before they are ready to get close. Still very cool to see up close. By the way, I am getting very comfortable with the whole getting salt water on my face and breathing in a snorkel thing. Too much to see to let that slow me down, I guess.
Our last stop was a coral garden with lots of fish – LOTS! Turns out it isn’t too far from here, maybe a kilometer, so we are going to kayak out there to snorkel again.
Chatting with Vincent, we learned that he lives on a motu (how amazing is that) with his wife and 3 kids. The oldest is away at university, and the younger 2 get driven by boat to school on Bora Bora every day. There is only an elementary school here (up to grade 8, I think). After that, kids go to school on Raiatea and board there, coming home once every 5 weeks. Wow! For his family, they have relatives on Raiatea that the kids can spend weekends with, but isn’t that so young to live away from home?
Chris, this guy Vincent reminded me of you and I was thinking that this is what you and Shandra should be doing. Go find an island with good diving or snorkeling, get yourself a boat and show people around. Then, we’ll come visit you!
We got back around lunch time, ate bread and cheese (again) and wine (again) on our patio. Those have become our 3 main food groups. We had a nap, took our nightly sunset pictures and had a great dinner at the restaurant next door.
I am writing this Tuesday morning. It’s 6:30 and Graham is already out snorkeling. Breakfast gets brought to us on a tray around 7:00. Could easily get used to this… Today we will take out the kayak. Perfectly calm waters right now and not a cloud to be seen.