We arrived on Tikehau island right on lunch time. We plan to head to lunch as soon as we have everything settled in our room. It looks like there will be a storm blowing through.
The view is great. The sun is out, sky is blue, water is every shade of blue, we can see clearly in to the water and saw a shark and hundreds of fish under our bungalow on the way to lunch. The weather had been forecast for rolling thunderstorms. Intermittent but a shower basically every daylight hour we were here. There is blue sky and fluffy clouds on one side of us and a small section of sky with a dark and foreboding cloud on the other.
Not sure of what to order, we both get the fish burger.
It looks small but is surprisingly filling. Enjoyable, not the same as the fish sandwiches we had on Rarotonga, but also not the same country nor are we at the Fishermans club. It was nice. While eating lunch the rain pours down. It only lasts a couple of minutes, at best. It looks as though that will be the last rain for some time as we can not see any other heavy clouds in the sky.
Recharged, we head for a snorkel. It seems crazy to travel for so long to arrive at lunch time and then snorkel, by the same token is seems silly to travel so far and not make the most of it. We grab some masks, unpack our flippers and camera with the underwater housing and off we set.
I am sure we picked the worst possible route but we walked to the beach and set our stuff down then swam over to our villa. The reef is large and in some parts it has a decent height to it so swimming over it was difficult. We didn’t want to bump it. I can float well but TW has issues with floating. I float on the surface, I guess I am full of hot air because I am very buoyant. TW is more of sinking floater. His head is usually ok but his butt and feet sink. He has to exert a lot of energy to keep his body parallel so it usually isn’t. Some how we made it over to our bungalow and we were met with a wall of fish. The same abundance of fish we saw on our way to lunch. I don’t know why we had forgotten about them but it was super fun to swim with them. About 20 minutes later I remember we saw the fish with the shark, we didn’t see the shark now though. I kind of wanted to see it but at the same time, OMG shark. I don’t care how small, I am scared. We snorkel until the sun went down and have a really relaxing afternoon.
After snorkelling we sit in the water at the shore and some fish come and hang out with us. People are told not to feed the fish but I get the feeling they are waiting to be fed. We don’t have anything to give to them and I start to feel guilty about it but I just take a tonne of photos of them instead.
The water is so clear, you don’t need to snorkel to see what is going on. We watch from above and enjoy the cooling water. The water temperature is more like a bath so it isn’t actually cooling water but there is a breeze and this is what is actually cooling us down.
We more out of the water and I see what I think is an octopus in the water. It isn’t quite clear if it is so I stand up and move closer. I point, TW sees nothing but then armed with my camera and sunies I am sure it is. I take photos of “rocks” but eventually TW sees what I see. It is exciting and we aren’t sure which side we are on. We think he is going to eat a fish or the fish is going to eat him. Neither happened that we saw but we only saw him one time. I had thought I saw one earlier that day but my eye only caught him after he hid and my brian was processing peripheral vision. I doubted what I saw. Now I knew for sure they were there and they can hide well.
It is now near dinner time so we pack up and head back to our room to rinse off and get ready for dinner. It has been a pretty big day so we are excited for the relaxed meal ahead of us. We order a starter to share – the raw fish trilogy. It is very enjoyable.
I like the fine sliced raw tuna the most. Sashimi tuna that I am used to is fairly chunky and this was super thin like you might have for smoked fish. The wasabi was great, one of the better hits of heat without any real burn that I have had and the sauces were all nice. For main I pick the duck. I am not a huge fan of duck but I figure the French do it well so why not try it, TW ordered the Mahi Mahi steak. It comes with Quinoa salad but he gets it with chips. It is basically the same amount of fish as our burger for lunch with chips and none of the burger pieces. It looked a little disappointing. Luckily my meal was very large so I was able to share most of my duck – yeah I am still not a huge fan – with him. I had multiple sides and there are bread rolls with every meal so we were full before we could get any desert.
TW thought he would be up much later because it was decently early but he laid down on the bed and was snoring within 5 minutes. He did wake himself up and I laughed at him but he was off to sleep again in no time so I also went to bed.
About 3 am, after multiple dreams of people crawling in our deck windows – the deck that faces the boardwalk – I heard some flip-flopping in the water and could not stay asleep and pretend any more. I had been dreaming about someone splashing in a bath but our room didn’t have a bath. TW later told me he had also put the splish splosh in to his dream but someone was playing with water in the sink. He mocked me and said even his dream brain knew the room didn’t have a bath. I said it was more concerning that his brain came up with a plausible plan but he didn’t get out of bed to investigate. My dream had nothing of actual concern in it. Anyway, that was a different day so another story.
I got out of bed to see what it was and now that I was awake I needed to go to the bathroom. As I passed by the glass floor I saw a big shark. I went to the bathroom and then told TW that the shark was much bigger than the one we had seen during the day. Like twice the size. He got out of bed and we walked around to try and find it so he could see it. I saw it again but he was looking the other way, he couldn’t hear my attempt to get his attention over the waves crashing on the reef and when I looked to see what exactly he was doing – he was pulling a Homer Simpson and scratching his butt. Annoyed that I had now seen it twice and him not at all he decided to take some photos of the stars, as this is what had distracted him.
There were a lot of stars in the sky but at 4am and not really planning to be awake neither of us set the camera up properly and the photos didn’t come out great. We had taken some sunset photos before going to sleep. Those were a little better.
Back to sleep, ready for the next day and I am actually starving so I can not wait for breakfast time to arrive. TW set him alarm because he did not want to miss breakfast and we were woken by the alarms to start he day.
Our first breakfast at the resort. We both head straight for the pastries. I get the chocolate filed ones and TW gets plain croissants but picks up some nutella on the way. We have water and TW has black coffee. There is bacon, eggs, sausages and hash browns along with breads, cheese and meats, a selection of fruits, yogurt, fruit juices and condiments for breakfast. The buffet is small but caters to just about everyone.
After breakfast, for some unknown reason, we decide to grab a canoe and row ourselves over to a sand bar. TW joined the row team at uni in his final year, so he is an expert. He tells me to sit in front as the back steers more and then rather than either of us call out which side to row on, he will yell at me when he does it wrong and our paddles clash. It is a long and annoying row over to the sand bar. We arrive and find at the end of the sand bar is an island with a house on it, so it isn’t even a deserted island. It is someones home. We stick to the sand bar end and snorkel. Initially we snorkel on the inner side of the sand but the current is flowing that way and while it is a lagoon it is 746 square kilometres of lagoon so getting sucked in to the middle wouldn’t be great. Not wanting to fight against the current we head back to the sand bar, walk to the other side and swim towards the lagoon wall and then float back to the sand bar. It is on this side we come across large coral formations with lots of fish and a shark.
We saw a shark before snorkelling yesterday but not while we were in the water and we are quite far from the hotel and our bungalow so it was unlikely this was our night time shark. TW has the camera, I try to get his attention and point out the shark. I hope he understands and takes a photo because this is the first time, to my knowledge, I have snorkelled or swam with a shark. It is possible others have been nearby but I have not been aware of them so this marks a big moment for me. I did not freak out, ok I might have slightly. I tried not to look like a struggling seal ready to be eaten, I am sure this shark is too small to be eating seals anyway but I stick to floating and not swimming and soon I loose sight of him again.
We make a few more passes of the rocks and reef, swimming out and floating back, before we decide to head back. At this point we should have towelled off and applied more sunscreen. Hindsight. The row over wasn’t amazing so we try TW in the front. He says the front steers more, I keep in time with his movements. I don’t always bother rowing. The water is shallow so TW gets out and walks as he thinks it will be faster. Then he tells me to get out and walk and pull the boat. He gets back in. I get out. I don’t really know how to get out so I tip it a bit on my way and TW flips it over and falls out about 20 seconds later. He says it was my oafish entry in to the water but the delay was so long, I had already started walking and pulling the canoe with me so I think he just wanted to be flipped in to the water.
Eventually we arrive back to where the canoes are stored. We get ready and head for lunch. I had the lasagne and TW had pesto pasta. These were both huge meals. The lasagne didn’t look big but I could barely get through it. Possibly the bread rolls filled us up but they were both very enjoyable.
By the time lunch is over it is clear we have both been badly sunburnt. Luckily we have after sun and every other cream, lotion and tablet that might be needed in the room. We agree to do everything we can to reduce the damage once back in the room and rest for the afternoon.
It isn’t long before I decide we should snorkel again, we can stay in the shade and just hang out under bungalow. TW agrees but only if we stay out of the sun and we have to apply more sunscreen and wait for it to set in before getting in the water. Agreed. We set off from the beach and this time, trying to stay out of the sun, we swim along the shadow of the boardwalk. It is deeper and easier to get to our bungalow but there are some huge formations to avoid.
We snorkel a little and sit under our bungalow in the shade for a while, it is nice to cool off a bit. My skin is very hot, I am burnt in a lot of places. TW had managed to avoid being burnt for the most part. We aren’t sure yet if the burn is still to show up or if this was the worst of it. Shade is a must and the cool water feels nice.
The path in the shade takes us past the wall of fish. Slightly intimidating but it feels like your swimming inside someones fish take and all the fish have decided to hang out and gossip. They eye you up and down, some swim at you to check out what you are doing. No one seems to care too much that you are there. Everyone is going about the same business as before, once you have been looked over by a few. It is an interesting feeling – being judged by fish.
After we finish, we sit by the beach. There are cute little fish at this launch spot. I take photos and a couple of them are playing about and getting really close so I leave my hand out. I dip my arm only slightly under the water and wonder if a fish will swim over it. One did, then another. It was kind of cool. I enjoyed the interaction and then with my hand still stretched out slightly, in a relaxed position, the fish that had been first to swim over my arm bites the tip of my index finger. In shock I say ow and pull my arm back. No pain, I giggle. It was funny. I guess they were hanging out with me because they thought I was going to feed them.
TW comes to the shore. He arrived before me and went to the toilet. I didn’t realise he was out of the water, I thought he was behind me exploring. I tell him about it and make him sit in the spot so I can get some photos of him and the fish. He doesn’t want to sit, he stands near me while I tell him about my finger being bitten and just as I finish telling the story, two fish dive in and nibble on my leg. I jump. Again, it doesn’t really hurt and it is funny but also I hope these fish aren’t poisonous or anything. TW decides to sit while he tells me I had really wanted the fish to bite me anyway. I take some photos. Pointing out that we are in the wide open and bright sunshine, TW suggests we get out of the water rather than get any more sunburnt than we already are.