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The Blue Lagoon, Tavewa

2nd Yasawas oceanswimsafari

We've had a lot of response to our Yasawas oceanswimsafari following the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October (see below), so much, indeed, that we're putting on another, second oceanswimsafari prior to the Mana swims. It's a prequel, as they say in Hollywood these days, running October 5-12, including nights in Nadi either side of the Yasawas. If you're interested, be warned: space on this second trip is very tight, so you'll need to get onto us quick and smart.

On this oceanswimsafari, we're going back to an old favourite venue: Tavewa Island, to the site of the former Otto and Fanny's Place, which now is renovated, renewed, reborn and relaunched as Coconut Beach. We're looking forward to it very much. It's like going home to visit relos. Otto and Fanny's was where we first ran oceanswimsafaris in the Yasawas. Aunty Fanny is like family to us, and while she's not running the reborn resort, she's there, along with her extended family: son Harry is cooking; Sekove is running the 150-year-old generator, which runs on coconut oil; Millie, Lucy and Lena are buzzing about the resort, and Moses, John and Joe are on hand, too.

The Bulavard, Coconut Beach

Tavewa is a special island up that way. It's freehold, given as part of dowry, to a Scottish solicitor who, in the 19th century, married the daughter of the local paramount chief. He also was given Turtle Island (Nanuya) and Nanuya Lai Lai (Little Nanuya). All the residents on Tavewa now are descendants of that union, or they've married into the family. And they live in paradise. Visiting there is like being taken into a private home, as indeed Aunty Fanny did with our cobber, Jimmy, a few years back when space was tight. She kicked Harry out of his bedroom and took Jimmy into her home. We love going to the Yasawas, and we love that we're heading back to Tavewa.

We have myriad swims around the Tavewa Lagoon area -- the so-called "Blue Lagoon", made famous in the movie -- and we pick one each day, depending on the weather and the tide. One day, we'll head north to the far end of Nacula, the island across the channel, to the Sawa-i-Lau caves, which also featured in the movie. Locals reckon that the spirit of the Yasawa is inside those caves, and until you've been to the inner cave -- which requires ducking down beneath an underwater arch -- then you haven't really been to the Yasawa.

Space is tight, remember. If you're interested, check out details and give us a yell... Click here

Vanuatu dates 2016

vanuatu book helshamOur cobber, Glistening Dave, has many talents. Amongst them, he's an artist, a photographer, a designer, and a swimmer, although more of the barge variety than your slinky torpedo through the water type. Dave came to Vanuatu with us in June, and he spent a lot of his time there taking photograrphs. Now, Dave has put the best of his images into a book. It's a stunning pictorial record of this year's Vanuatu Open Water Swims and Espiritu Santo Swim Week. You can have a geek at Dave's book, and buy it, if you like, on blurb.com... Click here

We've also set our dates for Vanuatu in 2016: the Vanuatu Open Water Swims are scheduled for Saturday, May 28, with Espiritu Santo Swim Week the week following, Monday, May 30 through Friday, June 3.

We plan to have packages for Vanuatu 2016 online well before the end of this year. We'll be doing things a bit differently in 2016, with some stunning new locations and experiences.

To see our report from Vanuatu 2015... Click here

Mana Island's Ocean Swimming Stadium

mana north beach

It sounds like something from the Iron Chef: Ocean Swimming Stadium. And it's true, it's seen events aimed at Japanese swimmers as well as Stra'ans and Kiwis, although we don't know whether any were cooks, apart from our cobber, Celso Grati, who runs il Bolognese in Boronia Park. It's called a "stadium" because we reckon it's the best place in the Sarth Pacific to run swim events: the water is warm, clear, and it's always been benign in our experience, which dates back to 2003. Mrs Sparkle reckons she saw a reef shark there once, but we've seen nothing bigger than a spotted eagle ray, which is a real treat. It's deep enough to make it interesting and fast, and to mitigate any currents that run over shallow reef when the tide is on the flow. But it's not so deep that you can't see the bottom.

Mana Island's North Beach -- Ocean Swimming Stadium -- has reef running out 130 metres to the drop-off, after which it's a cornucopia of colourful sea life, other than big, potentially scary sea life. Some legs of the swims there during the Mana Fiji SwimFest from October 14-17 run into deeper water, but that's good, too. The 10km event runs through myriad types of water, from shallowish reef with a bit of current, over the drop off, through deeper water with coral outcrops and fish dotting the distant bottom, to shallower reef again, to deeper water drifting downwards from azure to dark blue, and to the calm, soothing water of Mana's South Beach. And back again.

This year, we've been in touch with the Rottnest Channel Swim awgies and we've been told

We’re looking forward to the Mana Fiji SwimFest October 14-17, and the Yasawas oceanswimsafaris before and afterwards. We reckon Mana Island is the best place in the Pacific for formal ocean swim events. We’ve been resort managemen there to name Mana’s North Beach “Ocean Swimming Stadium”, it’s so good. And this year, solo swimmers in the 10km can use the swim on October 14 as their qualifier for Rottnest Channel Swim...

More info and to book... Mana click here... Yasawas click here

Heron Island photo gallery

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Punters ask us often about Heron Island... What's it like? What's the sea life like? Is it as good as people suggest it is? Of course it is. But now we've put together a photo gallery of our favourite pics from the Great Barrier Reef Swim at Heron Island over the past couple of years to give you a better idea of the event... Click here

The Heron Island weekend is much more than a swim. It's a long weekend, with swim activities scheduled on each day from Friday through Sunday. On Friday, there's the open water swim clinics, with sessions in the hall and in the water, run by Coach and Olympian Graeme Brewer, as well as a course tour and "Swim Back" to give you a feel for the water, which is very different from the break on your local beach. On Saturday, we have the 1km swim around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour. Then, on Sunday, it's the 2.9km swim around the island. There's lots of party-like activity surrounding all the swimming and plenty of time to swim and mooch over the reef, and to explore Heron island, which is a national park. It's also turtle laying season, so there's a pretty good chance the waters around the island -- and its beaches -- will be active with turtles laying or preparing to lay. It's a privilege to be amongst this.

Swimming around Heron Island is very different from other swims in Queensland, because the island is right on the Great Barrier Reef. The water is so much better, so much more interesting than swimming inside the reef. It's clearer and cleaner, and teeming with life. It's a cathartic experience.

Travel days are Thursday and Monday, with the weekend running from October 29 through November 2.

Rooms are filling on Heron Island. More info and to book... Click here

Swims open to online entry on oceanswims.com...

Forresters Beach (Sat, Oct 10)... Click here
Mana Fiji (Thu-Sat, Oct 15-17)... Click here
Evans Head (Sun, Nov 15)... Click here
Toowoon Bay (Sat, Nov 28)... Click here

Coming soon... Burleigh Heads (Sun, Oct 18), Tweed River (Sun, Nov 29), Queenscliff (Sun, Dec 20)


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