Monday, August 26, 2013


After leaving my family and Bora Bora behind, we set sail for Surwarrow, which is located in the Cook Islands.  Martin and I had heard rave reviews about Suwarrow's coral reefs and great snorkeling, but we weren't sure just what that meant.

What we did know ahead of time is that Suwarrow is featured in the book, "An Island to Oneself" by Tom Neale.  Tom Neale was a New Zealander that lived alone on the island for a total of ten years back in the fifties and sixties.  So, of course, Martin, David, Sue and I all read his book in preparation to see the island and catch a glimpse of the house/shed he lived in while living on the island.  In the book, he describes his adventures and how he manages to survive living off the island and it's natural resources.  It's a quick read and really quite interesting, especially since I knew we were going to the actual island to retrace his steps.

I loved experiencing an almost deserted island (but only for a week!)  Tom Neale's home is now the home to two rangers that live on the island for six months during cruising season.  I guess I was thinking there would be a little museum, but instead, there were just remnants of his home, garden and kitchen.
Tom Neale's Home
The Ranger Station with all the different flags given to them from cruisers from all parts of the world.
What didn't disappoint was the diving and snorkeling.  They were absolutely superb.  Even better, we saw one of the most amazing, preserved coral gardens that I had ever seen while diving.  Beautiful coral platforms full of striking colors with tunnels and caves made for exploring.  It was so lovely that we didn't dare touch anything to make sure that it remained untouched (at least by us).
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Martin and me checking out the beautiful coral gardens of Suwarrow.
Sue captured this photo of Mr. Turtle.
Lily hanging out in the dinghy while we take turns diving.  She loves the water.
Even better than the coral garden, David and Sue had been to Suwarrow the year before and knew where the "cleaning station" was for some local manta rays.  A cleaning station is similar to us taking a shower, but for manta rays.  They would come every morning and let all the little fish feed off of them to get them cleaned and ready for the day.

I thought that I had been blown away in Bora Bora when seeing the manta rays on our dive there, but here… HERE it was absolutely mind-blowing!  We would dive each morning and see up to five manta rays swimming around and they were obviously unfazed by us visiting with them each morning.  It was wonderful because there were hardly any other cruisers on the island while we were there, so we got to be in the water with the rays without anyone else slipping into the water.  Too many people would probably scare them away, so it was lovely that it just got to be us each morning.
The manta rays of Suwarrow.
Me with an all black manta ray.  It was amazing!
We would have up to five manta rays at a time come and swim with us.
While at Suwarrow, the group of cruisers that were with us were such a wonderful group of people.  We loved doing potlucks on the beach and just enjoying one another's company.

Our nightly potluck dinners with other cruisers.
This is Cameron and Sophia from the boat called "Serius".  They sang a little nursery rhyme which was adorable.  They have been sailing with their parents for the last year and a half and their destination is Australia as well.
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Family Time.
We also enjoyed the daily shark feeding done by the rangers every afternoon.  It really was quite funny because one of the rangers would go out to a shallow part off the lagoon and do a call like he was herding in cattle.  All of a sudden all these sharks would come swimming up waiting for the bits he was going to throw out to them.  It was quite entertaining.
The sharks would swim right up to the shoreline.  Right next to me.  They were petrified of us more than we were of them, but it made for some fun photos.
This guy wasn't so scared of me and swam right up to me.  I don't think I ever moved so fast in my life when he tried to nuzzle up to me.
It was also just nice to be able to relax to the sound and breeze of the ocean.
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How Martin and I babysit when the sea makes us drowsy.
DSCN0231I also made a video of us swimming with the manta rays along with photos.  As soon as I can find some decent wi-fi, I'll be sure to post.

Now onto to Tonga.  I can't wait to tell you about beautiful Tonga!

P.S.  We were overwhelmed with all the emails in our inbox from everyone that is reading our blog.  Thank you for the emails as well as the comments made directly to our blog.  So glad that you are enjoying our adventure with us!  We will try and respond to many of your emails when we get to Fiji and the internet is a little more reliable.  Until then, thanks again!