We recently visited the Malolo islands, specifically a place called Musket Cove. It felt a little bit strange actually sailing the Puffster without looking ahead to an overnight passage. Most of the places we’ve visited in the South Pacific require an overnight sail or longer. We can actually see the Malolo Islands as soon as we exit the marina channel.
Our trip started with very little wind and I was disappointed by the fact we might have to motor. But, luckily the forecast turned out to be correct and the wind picked up to 15 knots. It even came from a direction allowing us to sail. Wow! Wind from the right direction! We are not used to such oddities.
Approaching islands in Fiji can be a little bit daunting. This is because the charts here are not very accurate. In many cases, it shows our route as going over the land. Since the Malolo islands are quite popular, there are channel markers to help guide us in.
We use a combination of navigation techniques to make sure we don’t put Cream Puff on a reef. Besides visual navigation using markers, we can also use OpenCPN. This is a free piece of software developed by cruisers for cruisers. It allows us to look at our exact position as we move on a Google map image. Because of the water clarity, it is easy to see reefs on these high-resolution images. They are also very helpful to us in scoping out potential anchor spots.
Another thing we will do is look at our AIS display and hope a sailboat is entering ahead of us. I can track their route and see how it compares to my own plan. On this particular journey, this paid off since one of the large ferries passed us and we could safely assume they’d stay in the deeper water.
After an awesome 4 hour sail, we find ourselves entering the bay. Wow! There are a ton of boats. This was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought we might have a little more isolation. Cindy had read about Musket and fully expected to see a lot of other vessels.
We meandered through the anchored boats to the mooring field. It appears all the moorings are full and our only option is to use the anchor. Not to worry, this will give us a little bit more privacy since we prefer to anchor away from other vessels. We find a nice big area and drop anchor. This will be home for the next few days.
When driving through the anchored boats we notice a couple of friends and make a mental note to say hello once we get our dinghy in the water. We decided not to launch the dinghy that afternoon but rather wait until the next day. We just basically hang out and do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Sometimes, doing nothing is really something.
I should add at this point, we are both very excited about getting into the water and seeing what lies underneath. It feels like a long time since we’ve had a good snorkel. Bora Bora was a bit of a bust in this department and we agree Tahiti is going to be a tough act to follow. We really don’t know much about what Fiji has to offer and are both excited to see.
After launching our dinghy, we putter over to see our friends. They have been in Musket Cove for a little while and already know their way around. Responding to our inquiry about snorkel spots they give us a couple of places to see. One, they say, is a must-do.
Malolo is basically an island full of resorts. But, unlike most other resorts, they are welcoming to cruisers. They offer a free dinghy dock and allow us to eat at their restaurants without paying some stupid expensive resort fee to step on the property. They even offer a “yacht club”. With a membership, a person can use the facilities such as the pool, laundry, showers, as well as have a charge account for the amenities. All this for a very low price: Lifetime membership F$5.00 for the Skipper and a lifetime membership F$10.00 for Crew/ Associate.
We walked about the Musket Cove property and took in the sights. As we walked the unpaved roads, Cindy started to notice dead frogs. Not just one or two, but a lot of dead frogs. I didn’t notice them until she pointed them out. They were pancaked and dried out. Obviously, they’d been there for a while. This raises questions.
It’s not like there is a lot of traffic on this island. Why would someone need a car when the longest length of land on the island is 3.20 km (1.99 mi)? To walk from the east to the west is 1.6 km (5,200 ft) at the widest point. So, there’s not exactly a rush-hour. During our walk we didn’t see a single moving vehicle. How cool is that? We can just meander carelessly down the road without any traffic. But, not if we were frogs for some reason.
After taking in the sights, we decided on an unplanned lunch at Musket’s Traders Café. Since this was out on an island with all goods needing to be ferried, I was expecting high prices. Also, keep in mind this is a resort. We were both pleasantly surprised by the price and the tasty food.
One of the Malolo ferries arrived when we were eating. The hotel staff gather at the docking area and sing loudly and clap. They even had a couple of instruments. I thought, what an incredibly warm and joyous welcome this is to people arriving. No doubt some of these people on the ferry have just traveled thousands of miles to be here and are completely knackered. After lunch, we had another surprise.
We were just about to leave when I heard, “look who’s here”. It was a couple of other friends. We had no idea they were around and we must have missed seeing their boat on the way in. They were coming into the resort to meet some of their friends for a late lunch. We wound up having a nice chat with them all for an hour, or so. This is so very typical of the cruising life. You never quite know who you’ll see that day.
The next day we left the Puffster clad in our snorkel attire seeking to see Fiji’s underwater. I am happy to say we have discovered an ultimate snorkel sight. After going there a couple of times I mention the area to another friend. He is a professional captain of a private yacht. And, he agreed. Furthermore, he stated he thinks this is the best site he has found in his entire career as a professional sailor. What makes it so special? Tons and tons of live coral and thousands of fish! As soon as we jumped in we knew we’d found a very special place. We made sure to thank our friends for the recommendation.
On the way out to the reef, we pass the 7th Heaven party float. This is very cool. Check out their webpage: https://seventhheavenfiji.com/ They offer rides from the main island and also Musket Cove. I’m certain any vacationer would love to spend a day on this. I think it is very imaginative.
The next day, the weather was perfect for another long snorkel. So guess what? This is exactly what we did. When we returned to the Puffster I would estimate more than half the boats anchored there had left. I wonder why they all waited for a day with absolutely no wind after a couple of days with good winds to move. Oh well, more room for us.