Monday, June 24, 2013

Diving for moai on Easter Island

In case I have given the impression that Easter Island is only burial sites, moai and ancient relics of a people long past, think again. This is a beautiful island and although more remote than some of the others, is still considered part of the Polynesian chain. The water around Easter Island is supposedly the clearest in the world and we are ready to try out that theory. We have already visited Anakena Beach a couple of times and have swam and snorkeled around the small coral inlets but there is plenty of ocean to explore. Close to the hotel, the town of Hanga Roa has several small beaches and a darned good surf break that Tom has been eyeing since we arrived. Most afternoons there have been quite a few surfers and boogie boards out to catch the waves and as Tom went to join then but only to body surf, I found a small lagoon at Playa Pea from which to swim and snorkel. There were only a couple of other people at the playa and I quickly undressed (swimsuit already on underneath) and sat on the rocky lava edge. Like Anakena, the water was cool at first but quickly felt warm after only a minute or so. Here there are no waves and peering into the water it is crystal clear. Imagine my surprise as I snorkeled around to find a total of three rather large turtles sharing the space. Excitedly I swam alongside them and watched as they glide so effortlessly through the water, surfacing only now and again to delight the people sitting on the grassy bank. One gentleman in the water tried to catch one in his hands to show his family who were part of the group watching but some workers from nearby Restaurant Pea came down and admonished him quite loudly and harshly. Embarrassed he tried to confront them but I think it was simply to save face. He knew he was wrong and he quickly got out of the water, dressed and with his family trailing behind him departed. This left just me, a Japanese girl and three very relieved turtles to enjoy the late afternoon sun as we played in the water. Tom came back just as I was toweling off. He had caught a couple of waves but without flippers it was difficult. I told him about the turtles and he could see them as they came to the surface. The next day we had arranged a scuba dive trip. There are several dive shops on the pier at Hanga Roa and although they have different names, I think they are all related to one another. Actually Tom will scuba and I will be content with another snorkeling session. The water is chilly enough that wet suits are needed and after suiting up we are given a brief talk about the place we will dive, what the expectations will be and what to look for. The dive will go to a depth of 70 feet (22 meters) and this will be the deepest Tom has dived in a very long time. He is excited. Later, as he told me about it, the added bonus was that they dived to an underwater moai. He said it was incredible and had photos to prove it. I on the other hand had the pleasure of snorkeling at my own leisure with more turtles. The water is indeed the clearest we have ever swam in. Even the Great Barrier Reef was murkier than this. The exquisite turquoise blue/green water was incredible. Definitely worth taking a break from the moai.

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