September 11, 2020 ; 9:20 PM
17°31’S, 178°17’E – Volivoli, Fiji
OKAY WE HAD THE MOST MAGICAL COUPLE DAYS OF SEA CREATURE INTERACTIONS. Don’t believe me? I have about a million videos.
Dolphins love to race at the bow of Gracie Girl (and any boat) on a day with the right conditions. Although we’ve seen less dolphins total than I probably thought we would on this trip, we’ve certainly seen this pattern a lot.
Over the last two days, during great intraisland day sails around the Yasawas, we had 3 separate pods of dolphins race with us!! They weaved around and in front of the boats for about a half hour each time, until they realized they could never keep up the pace and forfeited to go catch a school of fish instead.
Gracie Girl: 3 ; Dolphins: 0
If you’ve read pretty much any of this blog, you’re aware I have a manta obsession. French Polynesia gave us some awesome experiences, but it’s been a while. So when we sailed to Manta Ray Island I was just as giddy as our first snorkel in Maupiti. And my perfect mantas had a surprise for us!
Since we were drift snorkeling through a fast-current pass, we were in a primo eating environment for the mantas. They opened their mouths all the way and swam quickly to collect plankton, etc. for lunch. The best ones did backflips all the way through their meal! Seriously, for as long as I could keep my body in their vicinity before the current swept me away, the backflips never stopped. Don’t believe me? Check out some videos.
One of those guys even has a ZIPPY! Apparently, he thought I was a manta, not a shark, which I much prefer anyway😊.
The manta snorkel was complete with large schools of fish and pretty coral. We loved it so much we drifted the pass 5 times. My favorite non-manta was this school of fish feeding!
Since we left Manta Ray Island (which also has delicious, wood-fired pizza, by the way), We’ve been running from some storms and making our way back east. Remember, we had to sail almost all the way west to Port Denarau to complete COVID check in requirements for Fiji. Now our sails east are against the trade winds so we don’t miss out on the “best” parts of Fiji. Weather windows are extremely important, and we are conscious of strong winds coming through the area. Sadly, our Russian friends ended up on the reef that night at Manta Ray Island (everyone is okay and the boat is reparable).
The islands are close together and there are many reefs, which aren’t as well marked as they were in French Polynesia. So we’ve done some day sails over the last couple days rather than one long, overnight passage to make sure we don’t hit anything. Luckily, this short stop in Volivoli featured Fiji’s best burger, and it did not disappoint.
As you can tell, WE ARE LOVING UNDERWATER FIJI. Next stop: Rainbow Reef!
First mate, Amazing Grace
TLDR: 2 words: Manta backflips. Yes, scroll back up and check out the videos.