Sunday, 26 October 2008

Heaven in the Hermits

The Hermit Islands, if you can find them on the map you get a prize! Northwest of Kavieng but still east of mainland PNG, part of the Admiralty Island chain. Huge points to Fiona for not only finding them but also emailing with details of dives in the area. I would have missed out on my encounter with the manta rays if I had not known! As always Fiona you are star.

Pulling in here was spectacular. Already excited after what we had heard from another boat & looking at the Hermit Islands on the chart. Nothing prepared us for reality. Water so clear you could see the chain running to the anchor on the bottom of the ocean floor 50 feet down. The varying colours of blue & turquoise waters were hypnotic. Paradise at its best. Check out the photo gallery to believe it.

There are about 10 islands in the Hermit chain. The main island Luf, is the only one inhabited with a village. The islands are surrounded by a reef with a number of passes allowing boats through. Anchored between the reef & Pemei, an uninhabited island, it was pure paradise. A handful of very serious land travellers have made it here to stay with people in the village & very few cruisers stop here, for the most part it is unspoilt by white people. Travelling across the South Pacific there have been less than a handful of places impossible for tourists to reach. This is a precious jewel in that crown & I hope remains as untouched as humanly possible.

Anchored so far from the village, we were canoe free, a blissful change. A local boat would stop by after their fishing expeditions to the reef to trade lobster & fish for cigarettes. The entire village are Seventh Day Evangelists & therefore do not eat any shell fish. Their loss is our gain. The lobsters are so plentiful they catch them during the day & we eat them at night! Bobby is the king of cooking lobster, I love eating them, it’s just deshelling them that’s not my cup of tea!
Emelia & Barraveigh played killer Frisbee on the beach, Jennifer & I attempted yoga in the sand (her flexibility is somewhat better than mine!), I kayaked around Pemei a few times to find the perfect secluded beach & settled down for the afternoon with a good book enjoying some alone time, Bobby invented a shade awning for his hammock on the bow & many cocktails were enjoyed watching the sunset. Snorkelling everyday on different parts of the reef including a swim with the manta rays & the boys perfected their spear fishing catching fish & lobster. All in all a paradise lifestyle! If heaven exists then this has to be it. It is truly amazing.

The heat here was so intense. As we near the equator it is seriously heating up. The fridge struggled to keep cold in temperatures of 100 degrees plus. It was 88 degrees by 8am & that was inside the boat where there is a little shade. The other casualties were ourselves, waking in the middle of the night to move cabins in an attempt to find a cool spot to lie down. At night a stray limb, giving extra unwanted heat sent each of us crazy (& not in a good way!). In an effort to stay sane I camped out in the v berth loving the breeze coming through the hatches but unfortunately my secret was discovered by Bobby who would come in half way through the night & the bed swap would begin again!! ; ) All in all a small sacrifice for idyllic surroundings.
The plan was to stay for three days before moving onto Ninigo. 7 days later we were still in the Hermits deciding it would be totally impossible to leave. It is now the last stop in PNG before checking out in Vanimo & entering Indonesia. The penultimate stop in what has been over a year in Pacific paradise. We needed the extra time here to detox from all the beauty experienced so far.

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