This All Happened in One Amazing Day!

The Winter Season has arrived in Vava’u.   This is the time of year when tourists start to visit, the harbor fills up with yachts and all the businesses that were closed during the off-season are reopened.

For those of us who are volunteers, it gives us a chance to enjoy some of the things that the tourists do when they come for a visit.   That was certainly the case on Friday when I got to spend a pretty amazing day.

The timing couldn’t have been better.  I had a long but busy week at work and Friday turned out to be the perfect ending to the week.

The Shark Encounter

For the first time since getting my dive certification, I headed out to a couple of the really cool dive spots in Vava’u.    The conditions were perfect…even at more than sixty feet below the surface, the water was crystal clear.

We dived at two places…one called Split Rock and the other called Fingers.   Split Rock is exactly what it sounds like…a huge rock that fell to the ocean floor and split allowing you to dive around and through it.    The rock sits on a beautiful colorful coral reef with many species of fish swimming around.

Diving between Split Rock

There is also a cave near here…it’s actually more of a large cavern but it is pitch black inside unless you use a light.

Inside we had hoped to see a couple of reef sharks which are known to hang out in the cave and that is exactly what we saw.

White Tip Sharks

It was my first encounter with sharks in the water and it was really amazing to see these Whitetip reef sharks swimming just a few feet in front of us.  Since I’m not that experienced at diving I would never have entered the cave on my own, but my friend Lori was with us for the dive.  She works for PADI, the organization that does scuba certification and she is an instructor of PADI instructors..  That’s the highest level of diving certification that you can achieve.  Having her along was great and really made me relax.  I figured if I got into any trouble there couldn’t be a better person to have with me.  

We dove to almost 70 feet below the surface.   We took this photo at about 45 feet down.   From left to right are me, Emma, Amanda, Lori, Jason and James.   Al, who owns Dolphin Pacific Diving took the photo for us.


Posing on the Ocean FloorThe second dive spot, Fingers, is named because of the five small tunnels or crevices that you swim though to get around, similar to human fingers.    As you are diving through, you realize that you can’t go straight up and surface even if you wanted to do that.  Some of the openings are pretty tight and you have to remember that you are a lot wider than normal because of the air tank on your back.

Without a doubt it was the best day I’ve had diving and I can’t wait to get back out again. 

Watching the NBA and a Yacht Race (Kind of)

Every Friday during the winter season, there is a yacht race when both local boat owners and those who are visiting race their boats around the harbor.   This past Friday was the second race of the season.   After getting back from diving, I joined my friends Chad and Katie at Mango Cafe, which is right on the water.  It’s one of the few places with Satellite TV and we planned to watch the end of the NBA Finals Game 4 and also the yacht race.

While we got to do both, the real entertainment came from the staff at Mango.   They were all rehearing some traditional dances that they will be performing for the tourists later this season.  We were the only people in the place so it was like having our own private dance show.

Dancers at Mango Cafe We did try to pay attention to the race and the game but ended up paying the most attention to the dancers.

Volunteer Night

There are 14 volunteers in Vava’u from three different countries…10 Peace Corps volunteers, 3 Japanese Volunteers and 1 Australian Volunteer.  We all know each other and hang out when we can but it’s rare when we all get together.   Friday night, the Aquarium Cafe invited all of us to  a special “Volunteer Night”.  

IMG_2578 The Aquarium Cafe has expanded and is under new ownership.  The new owners invited us to help train their new staff.   We got a big discount on food and drinks and the Tongans got some experience which hopefully will help them do a better job during the season..

Chad, Tomoko and Saskia

We stayed until they closed.    As volunteers we have to watch our expenses pretty closely so it was great to have a night where we could all get together at a restaurant and not have to worry as much about the bill at the end of the night.

Rica, Janis and Reyu It was a pretty amazing day!   And just in case you are wondering…I also did a lot of work last week including a workshop for 26 Tongan business owners.


I made a mistake in my last post on the number of volunteers from my group who have left Peace Corps since we arrived in October 2007.   We have had 12 volunteers leave not the 11 that I mentioned.  Eight married people have left and four single people.   Sorry for the mistake.

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