Sat., Nov. 12 Tavora Falls / Lavena & Southern Coast / Waitabu Marine Park
Today we spent a second day with staff from the Bouma project, this time concentrating on the newly established Waitabu Marine Park and the scenic southern coast in the Lavena Falls area.
First we took a short walk into Tavoro Falls, where we caught close looks of a pair of Collared Kingfisher, the male Orange Dove, and — quite laconic in the gardens around two small farms — numerous Wattled Honeyeater.
Papaya were ripe on the farmers’ small trees, and we were able to examine plants of taro and other produce that we had enjoyed during lunch the previous day.
Jamie was the first into the glorious pool below the falls, followed by Avghi, Molly, and then several others. The water was cool and refreshing, and swimming next to the powerful cascade was quite an experience! Jamie joined a group of local boys to jump and dive into the thundering waters.
Refreshed, we headed down the coast to the end of the road at Lavena.
After an introduction at a visitor’s center the locals had established, we boarded two small boats to motor out to some of the wildest and most scenic parts of the coast. What beauty! Waterfalls, including some double and triple streams, just poured off the cliffs through incredibly lush vegetation.
It was a pretty rough walk over slippery stones, but for those who made it a lovely sight, which Jamie captured adeptly with his camera.
Hungry for lunch, we headed over to Waitambu Village, which had prepared us a feast! We thought we’d have a quick bite and head forsnorkeling, only to find half the village there dressed in colorful, beautiful clothing, along with a band and many curious children.
It turned out that we were cause for this festive gathering, so we enjoyed a delicious lunch, took about an hour and half to snorkel, then returned for tea and cake and singing. They sang for us, we added a few more of our voices to “You are my Sunshine,” and it was grand all around.
The snorkeling was good in two sections of this now protected reef: one area of soft coral in stunning colors, where we found several living giant clams; and another area at the far edge of the reef, where a variety of huge corals provided safe haven for fish.
The reef between these sections is recovering, thanks to the effort of this community to preserve it. Sala, who was in the water with us, showed Nancy an area of coral acting as a nursery for small, electric-blue fish. The guides were careful to make sure we saw things while remaining safe.
The process of getting everyone back into the boat became a comical event; a few got a ride back in the billabong, a traditional boat.