Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vacay Report: Mantas and Waterfalls

Last night, DH and I took part in an amazing experience -- we got to snorkel at night with manta rays! I wasn't sure what to expect. I imagined the rays to be pretty small, maybe 4-5 feet across. Once we got to the dock though, our guide started talking about what to expect for our experience and he said that we might likely see mantas that could be 10-14 feet across! Yikes! He told us how they like to swim in circles to eat the plankton and how since we are snorkeling with them, they may very well circle up close to us. He said, "If you see this giant mouth coming up from the depths below right at you, don't be afraid! Just when it looks like they're going to gobble you, they'll turn over and maybe even graze you, belly to belly." I told my DH, I don't care what that guy says, if a creature that big comes at me with it's mouth wide open, I am definitely going to freak out!

We took a short 5 minute boat ride out into the bay and then they turned on the lights to attract the plankton. As soon as we jumped into the water, I put my face into the water and immediately saw a gigantic manta! It was easily 14 feet across and it moved so gracefully through the water. It was magical! It seemed to just float along the water like a hawk gliding on an air current. And just like the guide said, the manta started circling over itself. It was so majestic. I thought I would be frightened, but I was more in awe of the manta's grace and beauty! I started snapping some pics and soon a few more mantas came over. They started circling up towards us and came really close to touching me! It was amazing! We ended up seeing 4 mantas that night. The guide said that's unusual -- he mostly just sees 1 or 2 so we got really lucky! Hopefully my underwater pics will come out pretty nicely and I'll be able to post them once I get them developed.

Today, we went on a hike through a rain forest to look at some waterfalls. It was another awesome experience. We started off in a valley overlooking some cliffs. Our guide Matt, told us that those cliffs formed when part of the island actually fell into the ocean after a big earthquake! He said there is proof of that in (a) the cliffs and (b) the fact that they found rock debris hundreds of miles out into the ocean from those cliffs! If you look closely at the pic below, you can see waterfalls going down the cliffs. Cool!

The first stop along the trail was at an old taro farming field. In the pic below, you can see the taro growing on the left. The guide said that the old farmers would move some of the water from the stream into the growing field and then back into the stream. On the right, you can see some banana trees. The guide told us a cool fact about them -- Did you know that banana trees fruit only once? As soon as they are finished, they die! New banana trees are also sprouting to replace the older ones though as they die off. I never knew that!

Soon, we hit the trail again and found some amazing waterfalls.

We had to traverse some pretty crazy/interesting terrain to get to them.

While hiking though, our guide showed us some of the wild fruit growing there. We got to sample strawberry guavas and regular guavas. The strawberry ones (the small red ones in first pic) were a little tart, but still sweet. The larger, yellow regular guavas (second pic) were so yummy! I never had one before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was awesome!

After sampling some wild eats, and checking out some raging falls, we had a light snack and headed back home. I learned so much about the island and had a lot of fun. It was an awesome experience!

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