In a matching t-shirt-and-shorts outfit the colour of the Australian flag, our guide Keke looked more exotic than the lemurs we had spotted during the early morning drive to Ramena Beach. But, to be honest, our fashion scores were probably not much higher on this particular morning. We had arrived in Diego Suarez the afternoon before, sans luggage just like everyone else on our flight. Air [Maybe]gascar, we had found out, was flying the Tana-Diego route with an airplane that had a luggage hold the size of a cupboard in a one bedroom Amsterdam apartment. The few bags that did make it onto the luggage carousel were from 3 days before… So, we had done a little emergency shopping in one of the 3 shops in Diego selling clothes. Given the regular occurrence of this luggage incident (really more rule than exception it seemed) I’m surprised that the shops still managed to stock up entirely on clothes that looked like they were from the previous century… The prices however, were very contemporary. Perhaps this was a bigger scheme, and these shops just kept on buying old stock to sell to Air [Maybe]gascar’s desperate clients at a hefty profit?
In any case, we looked a motley crew of sailors heading off for the Emerald Sea. After crossing the small but nevertheless rather frightening channel which is the main entrance to the Bay of Diego Suarez, where the waves came crashing over the boat we had to wade ashore and walk to the lagoon. Along the way, we passed a small settlement where we picked up lunch: freshly speared fish every colour of the rainbow. As we approached the lagoon, we got a first hint where the name Emerald Sea came from; the water looked impossibly blue, just like the precious stone it is named after. But it wasn’t until we sailed across that the full awesomeness hit home. As we sailed leisurely through the crystal clear water, the only sound the waves against the stern and the occasional flap of the sail, we were completely immersed in emerald. It was as if we had entered another dimension; a pastel coloured world of blue skies, bright sun and the Emerald Sea.
We spent a couple of hours lazing on the beach of a small island in the middle of this otherworldly lagoon while our guides prepared lunch. This was my second highlight of an absolutely amazing day; fresh crab curry, coconut rice and freshly grilled fish washed down with cold THB! It felt like all my senses had intensified; the exquisite emerald colour of the sea, the heat of the sun, the burn of the curry, the sweetness of the coconut and the crispness of the beer all conspired to create one of those Perfect Moments. Who cares about ugly, overpriced t-shirts and lost luggage on a day like this?