Friday, October 28, 2011

Diving in Bora Bora

Heading out to the dive sites on Yvan's boat
October 26, 2011... its Diwali for Indians every where...Happy Diwali to all our friends and family! We are far far away from any festivities, lights, sweets and celebrations... but today we are celebrating in our own way. We have 2 tank dives scheduled in the morning with Bora diving center!!! :D We booked the trip thru our hotel but they also have a dive shop on the hotel premises. Pick up is at 8:45 am every day for the tank dives. We finished the usual hearty breakfast, packed our fins/masks, I took dramamine for sea sickness and wore my wetsuit. Yvan (who is also the owner of Bora Diving center) showed up promptly at 8:45. He recommended that I change into a full wet suit instead of the half size I was wearing (he called it "shortie") coz he said it would get cold during the two back to back dives. We were 7 people on the dive with two dive masters. DH, myself and Travis (from Alberta, Canada) were going to dive with Yvan and the rest were with the other dive master whose name I didn't catch. We headed out from our hotel to this site called Anau, located in the lagoon between Le Meridien and St. Regis. After a 3 min boat ride, we anchored and put on our BCDs...everything was setup for us - regulators connected to BCD, weights already set, BWARF check done...all we had to do was put on our masks, fins and strap into our BCDs!!! Much easier than our certification dives in La Jolla! We did a back roll from the boat into the water, and lowered ourselves into the water. The descent was smooth and visibility probably 60-70 ft. We were greeted by coral and tons of tropical fish. We descended past the coral into what looked like a canyon pass, called Te Ava Nui pass - this is actually a Manta ray cleaning station (info here) ...around 60 ft. under water. Giant Manta Rays come in here to allow cleaner wrasse to remove parasites from their skin and gill cavities. Yvan told us to lay low and still if we spot the rays. As soon as we descended and touched the sandy bottom we saw 3 rays glide by....what a majestic sight! There are no words to describe the beauty of these creatures...they glide magnificently...and they went right by us! We were lucky that Travis had an under water camera (at that moment I regretted not making the investment in buying an underwater cam... its going to be my universal advise to anyone going diving here) and caught the rays on video! The 3 rays just made it past us and we were about to move when Yvan pointed out 2 more and asked us to lay still. When those 2 went by a few more came around... I lost count but Yvan had started to move...he suddenly became still on his knees and started waving his arms like he was flying (or gliding in water), sort of mimicking the rays movements. I thought I saw a ray move towards him, almost like it was checking us out then it moved on. We slowly made our way towards the other side of the canyon. As we reached the other side Yvan told us to lay still coz he spotted more rays. This time we saw 9 or 10  of them glide by...the biggest one was almost 10-12 ft wide at the wings! They were huge! Yvan said this was his 2nd or 3rd time in all his diving in Bora Bora where he saw so many rays at once!!!! Joy oh joy for us! While the rays went around us a few times, we learned to control our buoyancy. It was good practice to learn to stay horizontal, and raise and lower our body only by using our breathing. Once the Manta rays passed us, we swam around a bit, checked out some more coral and fish, then started ascending. As we ascended a few feet, we saw another Manta ray pass below us...we got another viewing from a different perspective. These looked a lot bigger then the ones we saw during our ray feeding snorkeling experience....while I didn't understand the difference then, I now know that they were two different types of rays...we saw stingrays during our snorkeling trip, and these are much smaller than Manta rays. We did a safety stop about 5m below the surface. Once my tank almost emptied, I was having a hard time staying below the water surface. Had to discuss techniques with Yvan about that!:-)

We got into the boat, Yvan helped us out of the BCD (this is what's so good about diving at resorts! :D) and we rested before heading to our next dive site. Our bottom time was approx. 40 mins. We had some water n cookies while Yvan steered the boat towards Tapu...this was the same site where we went snorkeling during shark feeding...that was a little disappointing that it was the same site but at least we were gonna see the sharks up close. The visibility here was 100 ft, clear blue skies (after a brief spell of showers)....during our surface interval, Yvan had already changed the tanks and set us up for the next dive!!!! We were loving this...expensive dives but no work for us at all! ;) while we geared up for the dive, Yvan started humming the 'Jaws' theme music!!! LOL!! Lemon sharks n black tipped sharks are mostly harmless...we were back in water after a back flip...this time we descended using the anchor rope. We were greeted by thousands of colorful tropical fish....different kinds of triggerfish (redtooth, black), lemonpeel Angelfish, longfin bannerfish, scissor-tail sargeant, forcepsfish and many many more.. black tipped sharks swam around us. It was similar to the day we went snorkeling except this time we were in the middle of the action! Yeehaw! It wasn't long before we spotted a lemon shark, probably 9 ft long... swimming along gracefully. It had a remora swimming underneath, this is a parasitic fish that attaches itself to the host - in this case to the lemon shark....looked magnificent and surprising didn't terrify me even though it was pretty close. We continued gliding along the ocean floor till we reached about 66 ft depth...more coral and bright tropical fish greeted us. We explored the coral reef, Yvan tried to coax a spotted eel out of its cave so Travis could take a pic. He was experimenting with his strobe light and taking shots...was interesting to watch. Then Yvan swam along side thousands of bright fish so Travis could practice his photography skills...I certainly missed having a cam! We got to pose for pics hopefully we'll have some virtual memories that can be posted here soon. We spotted another lemon shark and many more black tipped sharks before we ascended. Again we did a safety stop, then got into the boat and headed to the dive shop on Vaitape. We were greeeted by Yvan's wife Sarah at the shop...we were very happy with the whole dive experience and would certainly recommend Bora diving center. After a brief stop there, we were dropped back to our hotel by boat. We got back to our room, had the sandwiches we had packed in the morning and took a nice long nap.

Sunset at Matira Beach
We had decided to head to Matira beach today to see the sunset and capture pics. So we booked a taxi (3000 cfp or ~$40) to go one way to Matira beach. We reached there around 6 pm, sunset was a little after 6. We stayed there till 6:50 or quite a few shots, I got to experiment quite a bit but the sunset wasn't anything to write home about. I've seen more dramatic and gorgeous sunset in San Diego. Sigh! But at least we got there and tried to take pics, plus we had fun doing so.

We had dinner reservations at Bloody Marys, which according to my fabulous sense of direction was less than a mile away. We decided to walk over....this wasn't the best idea coz it was pitch black when we started walking. It took us a good 30 mins to reach the restaurant! We had to get in quickly since we had to be on the 9pm shuttle back to the boat dock! Bloody Marys has a seafood market type menu...they had cuts of fish and meat all laid out in a bar, you get to pick ur meat for appetizer and entrée and they'll cook it and bring it out to you...I chose tuna sashimi for appetizer and white tuna in a chipotle sauce for entrée. DH had a tuna kabob and red tuna grilled...we started off with a Bloody Mary (which according to DH was excellent) and a blue lagoon (also very good). We got glasses of Merlot to go with our food. We thoroughly enjoyed the ambience - sand floor, wooden tables, etc. And our food.
The restroom at Bloody Marys
The restroom was worth a look (someone had mentioned on Trip advisor)...the faucet was actually a waterfall!!! Very interesting! I got lots of pics coz the place was so interesting. We ran into Travis here! :-)  also met this other couple from Tennessee staying at Le Meridien....seemed like a popular place from the number of people there. We topped off dinner with chocolate cake and another bloody Mary

Headed back to the hotel and to a well deserved slumber!

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