Day 124: Going With The Flow

Sat. 15th December 2012

Our bungalowToday Dave woke with a sore throat and feeling a cold coming on, will this put a stop to his diving? We hope not. Instead today we sign up for the “Drift Pass” which involves snorkelling with the flow of the current through Tiputa Pass from the sea to the lagoon. “Amazing adrenaline rush”  is how the brochure describes it. I say yes before I can think about that statement! However we have to wait until the tide is right and that will not be until 3pm.

The breakfast spread is the best we have seen for a while with a good choice of fruits as well as freshly cooked omelette. Given the price we have paid, we revert to our student mentality and take out a slice of baguette for lunch and hope the boiled egg hidden in Dave’s pocket does not roll away as we leave the deserted restaurant.

View from our bungalowThe sun is ferocious and so we stay on our shaded veranda for a while before taking a stroll along the beach to the pier and assess the snorkelling potential. The water is crystal clear and so we sit and watch the fish at play admiring the different ways they swim, some using their front fins and one their rear fins as well as the usual waggling of tail. The variety of fish – colours, sizes, in singles and in groups is just endlessly fascinating. We now know how a cat watching a goldfish bowl feels!

Main and only road in RangiroaWe head out onto the main road to visit the local supermarket next door to buy some provisions. The road is completely empty and runs for only 12km along this main atoll, which is also home to the airport.

Collection for the drift pass is 2:30pm where we meet Scott and Raquel, who are staying in the adjoining bungalow to us and have just flown in from Bora Bora after swimming with sharks this morning – and we thought we packed a lot into a day!

In our 'romper' suits to protect us from the sun and coralWe get ready by putting on an all in one thin suit to keep the sun off as well as avoiding being nibbled by any hungry fish, all of which are harmless we are told. I was nervous that it may be as fast as shooting rapids but the sea looks fairly calm and am reassured that it will be OK as we will all be holding hands. The guide in the middle holding my hand and Raquel’s and the men on the outside. All dressed in our all in ones, life jacket, flippers and mask, we set off in the speedboat, skippered by a big, heavy-set Polynesian who is a look alike for Kamecona, the shrimp truck owner in the new Hawaii Five O series, and head through the pass and out to sea for the first of three trips through the channel.

We all jump in the water together on the count of three and join hands and the guide steers us through the pass. It takes a bit of getting used to, as it is quite difficult keeping each other at arms length and going in a straight line. It does not seem that we are going very quickly until we pass over a group of scuba divers who are moving quite fast in relation to the sea bed and we overtake them. There is an amazing array of different types of fish and also a number of scuba divers. Once we are back in the boat we question how much more the scuba divers would see than us.

I was worried  that I am not good at clearing my snorkel without coming up for air, but I can let go of the guides hand, surface and clear the water before joining hands again without causing any problems or being left behind.

Fishes feedingThe second pass is next to the far bank and we follow the same routine as the first and are immediately are faced with a coral reef which we need to go around. The crevices are full of little fish of all colours darting in and out.

The third pass is through the middle of the channel and right into the lagoon. It is mesmerising just floating amongst shoals of fish,  and when we surface we see just how far we have drifted with the current into the lagoon.

It is only afterwards that we discover not only was the weather forecast for rain and gales, but that the current today had been fast. I am glad I had not known before hand!

Such clear waterLastly we were given about 20 minutes free snorkelling at a place called the aquarium. This is an area in the lagoon by a small sand bank over a mass of coral marked by yellow buoys.  We were told not to stray outside in case we get swept away in the current into the middle of the lagoon – poetic licence I expect but am not taking any chances as the other side of the lagoon is over the horizon. Apparently this is the second largest lagoon in the world at 80km long and 20km wide. There is no need to snorkel far from the boat as there is a mass of coral close by, with an amazing array of different types of fish of all colours and sizes. I was the last back on the boat having got carried away (not literally this time!) just floating and watching the fish go by.

I think the snorkelling here is as good as in the Maldives and cannot wait to get back in the water. The island has a number of day trips around the lagoon which are advertised as minimum four people. As the resort is so quiet it is unlikely to make even this number so we discuss with Scott and Raquel about going together on a trip tomorrow. They are having dinner at the next resort with a Brazilian couple they meet on Bora Bora so will discuss with them possible options. It will be good to explore more of the turquoise blue lagoon and what it has to offer.

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One Response to Day 124: Going With The Flow

  1. we are dying to read your Xmas day post¬!

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