Venturing up to the island of Yasawa, the northernmost of the Yasawa group, we first attempted to anchor at "Land Harbor", which we'd been told is normally a very quiet and peaceful anchorage. Not today. Typically, the Southeast Trades blow through here, but the winds had shifted around to the North (which would have been great for those previous anchorages). We could not stay here. But we had a back-up plan to go over to the other side of the island to Sawa-i-Lau Bay. On approach we were delighted to see how beautiful and protected this area proved. In fact aesthetically it may be our favorite spot. The tiny island of Sawa-i-Lau is sandwiched in between the larger islands of Yasawa and Nacula in its namesake bay, and is famous for being the site of the cave that Brooke Shields ran away to in the movie (Blue Lagoon). Of course we wanted to explore this cave. The closest & best anchorage was across the bay in front of a village called Nabukeru. We got the anchors set – it was just us and The Dorothy Marie – and then went to shore to seek out the chief/turaga ni koro. We found a fairly youngish man named Joe who claimed to be the chief. He was sitting on a mat with some women and another man who was a teacher at the large school just south of the village. We presented our sevu-sevu and got permission, blessings and all and then set off to explore the area. It was Sunday, so we were asked to stay clear of the village and Sawa-i-Lau until Monday, but of course were asked to come back in the morning to shop their craft market and to purchase any fruits/veggies/breads that were available and to visit the school. On Monday we could also explore the caves but were told to wait until after Noon because the resorts ran tours there all morning. So off we went to explore the other beaches. We spent the better part of the afternoon walking the beaches not associated with any villages, finding some beautiful shells and enjoying having the area all to ourselves.
Monday morning we visited the "market", which was not very impressive. In fact instead of lots of handcrafts, I actually saw the ladies pulling jewelry out of cellophane and molded plastic packages that looked like something you could find at the Dollar Store (cheaters!). By now I was pretty well done with looking at the same stuff over and over from village to village so didn't buy anything but a papaya. That was all they had available in the way of fruit. Sally did pick up some jewelry pieces that looked hand-made, a couple of shells, a papaya and some Taro leaves, then she ordered a loaf of bread on the way out. We stowed our goods in the dinghy and walked over to visit the school. Sally is an elementary school teacher back in San Diego. This was a treat for us all. The school was similar to what we would term, elementary & middle school back home and had only 2 teachers. There were elder students appointed to act as class proctor who assisted in teaching and organizing the rest. They were very impressive and very well behaved children with engaging personalities and amazing discipline. We all agreed that children back in the US would have a difficult time behaving as these students do. These schools are in need of supplies – pens, books, everything that we take for granted and have in abundance back home, yet they seem to get by. We mentioned to other cruisers heading this way to bring supplies if they have any to spare.
After mid-day we moseyed over to the caves. Paid our F$10 per person and hiked up to the entrance. Except for one guide we had the place to ourselves. After a walk "up", we entered the mouth of the cave and then walked the slippery man-carved steps down into the cave. It was beautiful, and quite nice and cool in there. We all jumped into the water and swam around before Frank and Glen followed the guide on into the next cave, which required a sub-surface swim under a wall. Sally and I didn't follow, but could hear the guys on the other side of the wall. It was as though they were in a sound room, magnified by 10. They returned reporting that it is pitch black in there, but with the aid of a dive light could see pretty well. I'm glad I passed. We spend the rest of the afternoon snorkeling, but it wasn't half as pretty as SomoSomo. The next morning Sally and Glen picked up their bread from the lady at the village and we took off again and made a two-night stop back at Blue Lagoon before heading back south.