Melanesia Day.

Beginning a new day with a quiet yoga session is a treat on a swimtrekking holiday. We are lucky to have Carmel from Brisbane offer us yoga.

We did 20min on the beach yesterday and this morning another session facing the ocean. Downward dog never looked so good.

Muscles are starting to become sore so massage kindly offered by ‘Healing Hands’ Jenny and Yoga by Carmel are helping. Thank you ladies.

Breakfast, a briefing on the days program and away we went. A slightly shorter trip today. Through the town centre and up to the lookout and a secret road to the water. Into the boats to Hat Island which does indeed look like a hat!

Reef shoes are needed today for the walk across the low tide rocks into the boats and away.

This island is a special one in Vanuatu. No villages here at all. But there is a very old cemetery. It’s a significant one.

We arrived at the beach, left our things then continued along the coast for a few kilometres. The ocean is a darker blue and a little rolling. Very inviting.

So off we went. Our group is bonding both in and out of the water. Some like to zip to the front following the leader. Others lurk at the back really enjoying the views of the reef. I prefer to hover mid group – in my own space with a swim buddy. Today it was Margaret. We were keeping a steady rhythm – until we turned a corner of the island and it became lumpy and challenging.

We swam over coral reefs with lots of little fish flitting about. A multitude of blues and purples and pink tipped coral. Bright blue starfish, schools of black & white or yellow fish 🐟.

And Kathy, Soosi and I got out in our

S, M, L matching swimmers!

Back to the beach for lunch. A walk to the ancient cemetery led by a local through a rocky grassy path shaded by pandanus before turning right into the island. Matthew one of our local guides offered a gift to the dead in friendship.

A little nap was needed then before the final swim of the day.

All up we swam 2.7km in the morning and 2 this afternoon. Quite an effort.

Matthew caught a turtle during our swim. What an experience

It’s a really amazing experience here with Yves , his sister Monique and the people of Vanuatu. It’s as much a cultural experience as it is a swim trekking holiday.

Tonight is Melanesia night. Starting with Kava. It’s a full on week and everyone is getting tired!

Yves with his sister Monique

So Yves has scheduled a late start tomorrow morning.

We’ll have yoga at 7.30, breakfast then a rest before a visit to the marketplace in town. Then in the afternoon a visit to a lagoon.

Perfect swimming in Vanuatu.

Yesterday we said it was perfect but today the swimming was even more beautiful.

Swimtrekking- it just keeps getting better.

We had our briefing for the day at 8am after a breakfast of tropical fruit and for some of us eggs- for energy!

Into the two buses by 8.15. One slightly more comfortable than the other, so it was decided we’d mix it around a little tomorrow.

Good coffee was missed yesterday so on the way to the boats we stopped at the Tanna coffee house. The manager gave us a tour and we enjoyed a lovely coffee. Most of the coffee is grown on Tanna Island and 90% is exported – so look out for it particularly in Australia at the Oxfam shops. It tasty and the locals deserve support.

There was also essential oils production. They use mostly Sandalwood and combine it with other oils- ginger and lemongrass. I bought some delicious smelling soap with lemongrass lime and coconut. I’ll have to try not to eat it.

I also bought some oil for sore muscles! There won’t be enough for the number of sore muscles we’re going to have after our lovely long swims.

We continued onto the banana boats and headed off towards today’s destination Pele Island. Another new swim destination for Yves and the swimtrekking group.

Again we were met by the chief and welcomed but no dance of welcome. Just as well as we were keen to get going. The water looked gorgeous.

The curious children came down to see what we were up to but the village people didn’t turn out to welcome us. They have other tourists here from time to time.

And it’s no wonder. It’s a tropical paradise.

Into the water we went. Water temperature ✔️ perfect. Clarity of the water for vision ✔️beautiful. Excitement levels of swimmers 🏊🏻‍♀️ ✔️✔️✔️.

And off we went. Today everyone settled a little, swimming straighter lines, following the leader. I swam with Bec just at the back of the pack. ( ahead of Steve on his kickboard) We got into a nice steady rhythm and maintained a good pace. Until her goggles started to leak. Such a swimmers curse. Leaking goggles!

We all swam past our landing point because we felt so good!

Just over 2km later we pulled in for lunch.

Under the trees we sprawled on towels or red chairs. Lunch was provided by the lovely friendly village people. Grilled chicken, rice, salads delicious fruits. All tasty and much appreciated.

Spying the rather strange looking jumping , climbing, blow up contraption- the sort used in one of those Gladiator TV shows we set a few challenges. Fun and games started. The limber, focused, determined swimmers took on the challenge. Greg, John and Shean versus Kathy, Maryanne, Bec and Colleen.

Lots of laughs as they tumbled, rolled , pulled and climbed their way to the top! There’s always an accident and today it was Shean twisting his shoulder. Let’s hope he can still swim tomorrow.

A short, Carmel led yoga session on the beach followed by a nap under the trees reinvigorated us for the afternoon swim.

Off in the boats down the pretty coastline- into the water to swim back.

It was beautiful. We saw a giant turtle pass the boats and while swimming along saw a smaller turtle wizzing underneath us.

More excitement when Matthew our guide spotted a dugong. He was thrilled as he lives here and hadn’t ever seen one.

Back on the beach we packed up for the 20 min boat ride back to the buses on the main island.

This is the downtime of the day. During the hour long bus ride some sleep, some chat and I start writing.

We also see some spectacular views and an amazing sunset.

Now it’s into our Bures to freshen up for dinner. I’m enjoying the outdoor shower in our room. A great end to a great day!

We’ve enjoyed dinner at Cafe Villa just along from where we are staying. The fish curry was superb.

We really must try and get to bed early.

But Jenny massages, John’s cigars and the Scotch and Baileys are holding us back!

Ki Ora: welcome to New Zealand

779B8097-8378-4664-9069-39BCCF08BE45We love our mini breaks and visiting our swim trek friends in NZ is one of our favourites.
For the past few years we have taken the easy 3 hour flight on Emirates’ 380 to Auckland to meet up with Kim & David Parker. We travel with our friends Chris & Jill Wilson and started the journey with Moët at the airport. It may only be 7.30am but it’s a great way to start our holiday.
We landed at around 3 pm picked up our hire car and headed towards Mellons Bay where Kim & David have a lovely home with spectacular views across their garden to the water.

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This year the Wilsons are staying with them in the house and due to shortage of rooms it was our turn  to book into a nearby motel at Buckland’s Beach. It’s such a pretty spot we’ll look forward to a walk around the bay tomorrow.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sharing lovely NZ wines, a wonderful tapas plate and lots of chat and laughs.

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Swimming has taken us to many places around the world and made us many new friends. We swam with the Parkers & Wilsons in Greece in 2014 and so we started our little mini breaks to ‘ have a swim’ followed by a bit of sightseeing in a different party of the country.
Last year we swam in Pahia (look back at those posts) and visited the Bay of Islands. The year before a local swim in Auckland followed by the Coromandel Peninsula.

This year we are swimming the Blue Lake near Rotorua. We’re very excited as lake swimming is beautiful. The downside is that our party of swimmers is decreasing due to injury or illness. Steve has a shoulder problem requiring an op in a few weeks. Kim has an eye problem after having had a detached retina. Jill has had stitches in her head and can’t go in the water and Chris has a heavy cold. So it looks like David & I! If I can fit into the wet suit!

So stay tuned for news of our adventures as we drive south to Rotorua – city of smells!