Monday morning at 8.30 am we’re on our way to port Denarau for another island trip. It's another beautiful hot sunny 30°c + day. Today we will be sailing on a 13 meter catamaran called the Coral Cats to the Mamanuca islands. We will make two forty minute snorkelling stops and have lunch at Musket Cove Resort, situated on Malolo Lailai island.
We got under way dead on time with what looked like a full boat load of tourists. I was a little worried there were going to be a shortage of shady spots to sit under. It took about ten minutes before everyone had settled down into a comfortable spot out of the hot sun.
Within thirty minutes of setting off from Denarau we were asked if we would like a cold drink. We were given a stainless steel cup and a slice of fruit. If this was morning tea, it was poorly done ( the manager needs to take a leaf out of Seaspray Sailing adventure tours). I also had a problem with the cups, when I looked into the galley I saw the cups thrown into a plastic bucket. If I was to ask for another cold drink, whose cup would I be drinking out of?
Our first snorkelling stop at Sunflower Rock was one hour forty minutes into the boat ride. Anchoring just off the southern point of the Mamanuca islands we were warned that the visibility was not that good because of cyclone Winston. We didn't mind... at least we could jump into the warm tropical water and get the body moving.
The first highlight for the day was the feeding of the zebra fish with a loaf of yesterday's bread. From there it was a 20 metre swim to the Rock. The sea bottom would have only been about 10 metres deep, whilst at Sunflower Rock you were only 1.5m deep; the visibility was poor as the boat captain said.
At least the water was warm and there was very little current to swim against. I was about to head back to the boat when a large white tip reef shark (one meter long) cruised by underneath me. As I approached him he picked up speed and made his way into even deeper water, too deep for me to follow.
Some of our snorkelling photos...
We were given forty minutes to snorkel around the reef. On the plus side, getting in and out of the water on the Coral Cats was very easy. Next on the agenda was a one and a half hour lunch break, I was expecting to have lunch at the resort (a brand new colonial style building). Instead, you have your BBQ lunch on the island with a sea front bar. If you sit looking out to sea and do not look back to Musket Cove Resort you could believe you are stranded on a tropical Island with all the trimmings. You do have a few minutes to go for a walk, but don’t be late, it’s very expensive to stay the night.
From Musket Cove you will be at your next snorkelling spot in ten minutes. If you time the tides right, the Malolo sand bar might be exposed for you to swim over to, you can stand in the middle of a pure white coral sand bar in the middle of the Mamanuca Islands.
We weren’t so lucky this day, all we saw while sitting in six inches of water was a small sting ray shooting past us at a great rate of knots. Unfortunately the snorkelling on Malolo sand bar wasn’t the best, it was very murky because of the current, so we just enjoyed sitting on the sand bar till it was time to leave.
Going out to Musket Cove the cat was under power all the way. The drone of the two motors spoils the catamaran sailing adventure. But when there is no wind, what choice is there? Sailing home was a different story; we were under sail for most of the way so all we could hear was the wind in the sails and the waves splashing against the hull. I must say I have never been on a sailing adventure where the motors were never turned off.
For afternoon tea I gave the drinks a miss because of the cup issue, I just ate the fruit but you are quite welcome to take advantage of the BYO.
What I did miss were the Fijian boys singing, they are so good to listen to, plus it helps pass the time away. What was interesting was how expertly they were at weaving animals, insects and birds out of coconut leaves, it looked so easy. They are the best weavers I have seen so far on an Island day trip.