We followed Roundabout II to Bavatu Bay, also known as the “plantation Anchorage”, on the other side of Vanua Balavu. It was a 10 mile trip around but we ended up less than a mile, as the crow flies, from our anchorage in the Bay of Islands. In a protected cove to the east of the main bay, we found a sandy spot to drop our hook, also known as the “plantation anchorage”.
That afternoon, we went to shore with Pam and Ted from Roundabout II and hiked up the 271 stairs to the top of the hill.
We marvelled at the grassy plantation set on this large plateau. You would never know it existed from sea level. From the edge of the water, it is impossible to climb up the sharp craggy limestone rock. The field was littered with coconut palms that had fallen in the cyclone and a few that had survived but lost their fruit. A few coconuts were starting to grow but it would be a year before they had a crop. Some cattle and sheep were scattered around the pasture.
We walked a bit further and found a small settlement for the plantation workers with bright blue houses, basically one room affairs with mats on the floor for sleeping.
The head-man, Seti, came to meet us and Ted handed over the letter he had from the Copra Shed Marina, owned by the same owner as this plantation. That was acknowledged as an invitation to tour the plantation. We were glad they had brought it along as we did not have one. We were given directions for our walk. Mid-afternoon is not the ideal time to do this tour, with the heat, but we soldiered on.
Passed the gravestone of a Scottish man dated 1938, we found the look out over the Bay of Islands.
We went back the following day with Frank and Lisa for another tour.
This time we also got to walk up to the plantation houses. One of the houses was what I thought was a tennis court, looking up from the water. The newer of the two houses had been blown away in the cyclone. Steel supports just bent over like toothpicks. It must have been heartbreaking. We heard the owner was there at the time.
The other house built during wartime, with 2 ft thick cement walls, still stood but had lost its windows and doors. It was badly damaged inside but must have been lovely in its glory days.
We soaked in the view of our anchorage, with Mango Moon on the left and Whistler on the right.
On our way back, we were asked by the headman to sign the guest book which was kept in The Sometime Store.
We spent some more time in the dinghy seeing the coast line around and just outside the bay, but still within the protective reefs. We found some deserted beaches.
And another cave.
Lots of marine life waiting to be discovered.
The walls of coral were spectacular along the edge of the bay.
Honeycomb Oysters, more stunning when they are open, but they closed up before I got a good shot. Next time, I will have a better underwater camera!
It was hard to leave Vanua Balavu and our friends who were staying for a few more days, but we were running out of fresh fruit, veggies, eggs and Fiji Bitter! We headed back to Savusavu to get some more provisions.