We were keen to dive the Naigoro Pass while we were at South Astrolabe Reef, but we’d come to a frustratingly dead-end trying to find a local dive operator on Kadavu Island who could give us the low-down. No-one was answering our calls, and we weren’t sure if we had to get permission from the local village. So armed with what little information we had, we decided to go and find the dive resorts in person. We passed Mai Dive Resort on the eastern side of Ono Island but there was nowhere safe to anchor Toucan. We kept going towards Waisalima Bay on the big island of Kadavu, where we’d heard there was a resort and dive shop.
Once in the bay the binoculars came out and we scoured the shoreline for signs of resort life. Nothing….. no, wait…there’s a guy on the shore waving to us! We dropped the anchor and dinghied in (approx anchor position 18 58.346S, 178 28.465E), and were met by Tom, an American who owns a beautiful house on the hillside here with his wife Carrie. We were soon introduced to Ken (the waver!), also from Hawaii who owns a gorgeous house just a bit further down the beach. They were quite excited to see us – apparently we’re the first yacht to anchor in the bay for years! They told us the resort had closed down a couple of years ago, but that another local neighbour, Tulala, would most likely be able to take us out to the pass in his longboat. Before long we’d met Tulala and his family and we were all sorted for a dive the next day. What exceptional luck to stumble across such lovely welcoming people, and such a beautiful bay.
Our days here were some of the most special we’ve had in Fiji. The diving in the pass was spectacular – we did three dives in company with Ken, while Tulala followed us in the boat as we drifted with the current (sometimes quite speedily!) marveling at the soft corals and marine life. In addition to the normal array of smaller reef fishes we saw many reef sharks, a large Maori wrasse and groupers. It was wonderful to see such a healthy reef system and it’s a place you could dive for years and see something new each time.
Luckily the weather stayed calm – the bay wouldn’t be tenable in strong south-easterlies – so we stayed several days enjoying the hospitality of our new friends and the sweetest, juiciest papayas and bananas that we’ve ever tasted straight from their trees. Tulala’s kids were keen to come and see our boat, so we invited them aboard together with some of their cousins and showed them around. The trampoline on the foredeck was a big hit!
Tom and Carrie kindly invited us along for their trip to the local store in nearby Kavala Bay – there are no roads here, so all transport is by boat. The barge from the mainland brings supplies once a week, and there’s a small health clinic and post office. Other than that, you need to be very self-sufficient. Both Tom and Ken use solar and wind power as well as generators, and all the building materials for their houses had to be brought over from Suva by barge and unloaded on the beach. What an achievement!
After our errands were complete at the store, Tom gave us a tour of the surrounding lush and serene mangrove creeks, which reminded us a little of Indian River in Domenica.
With Ken, they also hosted a wonderful dinner for us on our final night, where much fun and carousing was had by all into the wee small hours. Regretfully we upped anchor the next morning nursing our sore heads, but hoping we’ll stay in touch and be back again before too long. There aren’t too many places that we’ve visited on our travels where we’ve thought ‘we could happily live here’, but Waisalima Bay is one of those special places. Who knows? Maybe one day….