“Go in here and head that way”, says Isaac. As we descend we immediately realize just how stunning this dive spot is. The brightly coloured corals and fish shine in the clear calm waters as we descend down one of the many large pinnacles. Before long we are completely lost in a stunning labyrinth of underwater caves, tunnels and gorges. Best dive spot ever!
The Alacrity rocks dive area was one of the highlights of a quick exploration of the northernmost islands of the Kaduvu group. There is so much beauty in this area, the people, the majestic islands and an abundant underwater playground.
After a pleasant downwind sail from Matuku, we arrived at the anchorage of Nabouwalu village on the western side of Ono Island in the early afternoon of Friday 6th October.
After anchoring in the nice sheltered anchorage we went ashore with a little bundle of kava to perform the sevu sevu ceremony at the village. We met a few of the friendly locals, including headman Isaac who as chance would have it is an ex diver and offered to take us out to the nearby Alacrity rocks dive sites.
On the Sunday we attended the church service which was beautiful with the usual lovely Fijian singing.
Alacrity rocks dives
Although we often go diving with just the two of us and using our dinghy we far prefer having the peace of mind of having a support person on the surface, especially at new spots. Also although we knew the basic location of the Alacrity rocks, we didn’t know the exact location of the many dive spots. Isaac was fantastic as he knows the area really well. The first day we used our dinghy and it was rather wet and a squeeze, so for the second dive Isaac took us in his longboat. The small “tax” that he charged for this was well worth it.
We did two dives, one called “Split Rock” and I can’t recall the name of the other. Both were fantastic and our favourite type of dive, with beautiful coral and fish and lots of interesting terrain, tunnels, gullies and arches. Definitely one of the best dive areas we have come across.
And a not so good dive
We went around to the Naigoro passage area and anchored in the bay there for one night in order to do some diving at the passage. We had read good reviews on the internet. From the surface it looked like a really nice dive site, it’s an impressive narrow and deep pass. We did sevu sevu at the village and they asked us to pay $20 per tank to do the dive, with no support at all from them, which we felt was a bit rude. We dived on the northern side of the passage but there was strong current and the coral looked mostly dead, not very nice at all. We aborted the dive after only about 15 minutes, it was just not worth it in many ways. Perhaps we were not at the best spot or the tide was wrong, but our overall impression is that this is not a great dive location.
Vurolevu island manta rays
Anyone who knows Lyn will know that she is completely obsessed with Manta Rays. We have previously had a great experience swimming with them in New Caledonia, but they are elusive creatures and one can never be sure of finding them, even at known feeding locations. So when we heard that they are often to be found on the northern tip of Vurolevu Island we decided to investigate.
On arriving at the island we hopped in the dinghy and headed to the northern tip to coincide with high tide which is supposed to be when you see them. There was a small speed boat there already with a guide and two tourists and they beckoned us to come over. The manta rays were there! We spent about an hour taking turns in the water with them as we followed them on their slow route southward down the eastern side of the island, before they headed off out through the pass between Vurolevu and Ono.
The anchorage at this beautiful little uninhabited island just north of Ono is really pretty with its rocks and little beaches, so we decided to spend a few days there. Every day we tried to find the mantas again, same high tide, same location but no joy. We were consoled by enjoying our private magical little anchorage and beaches, exploring the island and snorkeling on the beautiful coral of the pass.
(Note to other cruisers: Before visiting the manta rays and island you are supposed to do sevu sevu at the nearby village on Buliya Island. We were told off for not doing this but made amends by doing so afterwards.)
We sailed to Suva on Thursday October 12th. Isaac had asked us if we would mind taking a few passengers on the trip to Suva, which of course was no problem at all for this short downwind day-sail. We had two men including Joe and his beautiful little daughter who had never been on a long trip on a boat before. She was sleeping quietly in the cockpit on Joe’s lap when she suddenly awoke vomiting from sea-sickness, poor little thing. Thankfully she felt better after that. The trip was uneventful except for us hooking a huge Mahi Mahi and our brand new lure unfortunately being lost as the crimp came undone, not happy! It was heartbreaking to see the fish continually jumping out of the water with the lure hanging from it.
Joe is an ambitious young man who has a kava plantation on Ono. The kava from the Kadavu group is known to be the best stuff in Fiji and is highly sought after. Joe explained to us that the roots we buy at the markets are probably only 1 to 2 years old, but the best kava is the older roots which have been left for up to 5 years to grow before harvesting. He said next time we buy kava to contact him directly and we can get the good stuff at a cheap price.