August 11, 2014 – August 13, 2014
17 10.308 S 177 11.183 E
Posting by Barb:
We anchored close to the Manta Ray resort near Drawaqua Island. We could feel that there was a strong current underneath the boat but our anchor could hold us. Our first stop was the dive shop at the Barefoot Resort. There we met Sam, a local working there, who seemed to be very excited to talk about the Mantas that feed in the narrow passage between Navitiy Island and Drawaqua Island. The Mantas come every year from June to October. They are lazy feeders and they show up during high tide and float the current with their mouths open, feeding on plankton. Sam showed us where to go with the dinghy and then explained that it would have to be a dinghy float down the pass as the current would be very strong. So at 6:30 in the morning, at a full moon high tide, we did our first of many float passes with Denny running the dinghy , although I did have a turn at the dinghy so that Denny could swim with the Mantas as well. The current was very strong and often the Mantas would do a quick pass under us and sometimes they would come directly towards us and then do a dive to avoid us. Allison experienced a moment where the Mantas did circles around her in a feeding frenzy along with a school of little fish which seemed to have dislocated their jaws to open them as wide as they could to filter in all the plankton. At 8 in the morning the resort boats showed up with the tourists and then it was a fury of fins and snorkels. The Mantas seemed to patiently navigate themselves around the mayhem. The Manta Ray snorkel was probably one of the highlights for Mike and Ally.
We celebrated my birthday at the Barefoot Resort with a lovely dinner on the beach and a harmonic Happy Birthday chorus by the staff at the end of dinner. We hiked the Barefoot Hike which took us to a scenic lookout of the boats in the anchorage. We also enjoyed a couple of Happy hours at the Manta Ray resort on the Northern point of Manuva Balavu Island where we did another small hike to explore the interesting rock shoreline. We took a day to sail to Viwa Island for a snorkel but it was too windy when we got there so we had to return to Navadra. But on the way we did catch 3 Spanish mackerel and a Dorado, which Allison cleaned and filleted (well Denny cleaned the Dorado as Allison found the big fish a little daunting). We also caught a Skip Jack tuna the next day and that was the last fish we caught in Fiji to date!!