I was lucky enough to fall into a group going on a dive trip on Sunday. In the Tongan constitution, the law states that no one is allowed to do any kind of work on Sundays. So, most establishments are not allowed to offer any services of any kind. Luckily, this place, Happy Ha’apai Divers got permission from the village elder and 7 of us left for Foa to experience some Tongan diving. I persuaded Brittany to come out with me, Kyle ditched us, but we left on the 8am RHIB. Twenty minutes after getting ashore, we arrive at Happy Ha’apai Divers, walking our gear down to the beach where another RHIB awaited us. As I looked out at the boats, I imagined that we would be on the small dive charter boat. Lucky us, we are going on the beautiful catamaran in search of two dive sites! It’s me, Darrin Davis, Derrick Farwell, Tom, HMC, Shawn Tally and Brittany... all aboard the Cat Knapp. I’m not sure who my dive buddy will be, but I’m still going to blow bubbles!
Derrick tells me that he hasn’t been in the water for a while, so I tell
him that I’ll be his buddy. I’ve got about 60 dives under my belt so far, I think I can easily get my Divemaster quals when I have the next stateside opportunity. Anyway, we hop in and immediately I’m impressed by the colors below me. What will I see today? Well, let’s start with a large lion fish, probably about a foot long. I almost didn’t see it, but managed to get some very blurry photos, wish I had been able to focus a bit better. The water was about 72 F, sounds warm but after a while underwater can be a bit much on the hands and feet. Derrick and I seem to be well matched on air supply, he breathes a little more than I do, but I got a bit colder than him too, so it balanced out. There were giant clams everywhere, purple, brown, green, yellow... quite beautiful to watch as they filtered water. We came across a 6 ft white tip shark as well, lazily swimming away from the underwater intruders on his nap. We spent almost an hour underwater and proceeded on to the next site, drinking a bit of coffee and munching on
The second site is just as impressive as the first in terms of wildlife, though not as great on the coral. It looked like a storm had done some damage, part of that cycle of life. I saw a few little Nudibranchs, a pillow star, some lobster and lots of clown fish. Darrin saw a baby manta, it’s a shame I missed that, but I had a lot of exposure to those in Kona, Hawaii. Nothing compares to a night dive with 13 adult mantas, but it was his first. We proceeded back, keeping our fingers crossed for whales... no dice. Everyone was falling asleep on the boat, I tried to keep a lookout for humpbacks. Disappointing in that regard, but it was still a perfect day of diving. Malo (thank you) Ha’apai Divers!
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