The mountainous centre of the island was shrouded in clouds, but luckily enough the coastline was largely sunny, which meant that the lagoon was looking truly spectacular – all kinds of shades of blue, turquoise and aquamarine. But, if it looked good above the surface, then what we saw below it was even more impressive when we stopped off at a shallow sandbar.
As we approached, we could see the tips of about 20 sharks circling menacingly in the water, plus a few dark splodges underwater that could only be stingrays. Then we were told that we should get in the water to swim with them!
So, we had the unnerving experience of going face-to-face with a whole load of sharks, looking into their dead eyes as they swam towards you, swerving away at the last minute as they were toying with your levels of fright. The rubbery stingrays were marginally less threatening, although as they glided past your legs the amount of times that people mentioned Steve Irwin's sad fate was a little disconcerting. Over time, the fear level subsided and it was just fascinating to observe these creatures and to think that we were the ones who were invading their environment – if anything goes through the mind of a shark, what does he make of a bunch of well-fed cruise passengers splashing into his home?
After this stomach-churning experience, it was time to re-fill our stomachs by having a delicious picnic lunch on a deserted motu. The setting was so picture-perfect that it simply felt unreal – sitting next to the turquoise lagoon, eating delicious food, enjoying a cold beer, it felt like something from a film. However, after a bit of relaxing and some more snorkelling, the fantasy had to come to an end; and so we reluctantly boarded our boat to take us back to the ship.
An absolutely fantastic day in a really wonderful island.