Friday, September 11, 2009

Mare Retrospective 3

Our third and final day on Mare island. We got up early to begin the hike to Shabadran beach. Shabadran is an isolated beach which can only be reached by hiking over fairly unforgiving terrain. See the big jagged headland in the picture below? The beach is on the other side. The flat green bit in the foreground of the photo is the 'beginning' of the walk. To get there you have to travel about 7.5km of dirt road. We had planned to drive to the end of the dirt road but with 5 people and luggage in the back, our hire Peugot 206 was not up to the challenge, so we ended up walking most of that too. That wasn't too bad though- the dirt road is a cool and green walk through a big coconut grove, totally flat and very easy.

Beginning of hike to Shabadran

The hike around the rocky headland is 3.8km long. It doesn't sound like much but it took us about 1.5 hours each way. The climb begins with a bit of rock climbing up a sheer face about 4m high, then continues over razor-sharp fossilized coral rocks. The guide book says 'you need to be fairly fit to enjoy the walk'. A bit of an understatement.

Beginning the climb. Thanks to Marc and Sophie for this photo!
Looking back to beginning of walk

You gain quite a lot of elevation during the walk and have a good view of the ocean breaking on the rocks below.

View down from the hike

The hike can be fairly exhausting, not just physically but mentally as well. You have to judge each step very carefully as a misstep can lead to a twisted ankle, a bad fall down a cliff or cutting yourself on the sharp rocks. The photo below is the result of slipping on a bit of loose gravel and landing on my hands.


I would recommend to anyone attempting the hike in the future to take a camelbak type hydration backpack full of cold water, some high energy snacks, gloves (gardening gloves would be fine) and proper hiking boots.

Shredded running shoes

Now, it sounds like we didn't have a good time on our hike. That's not true- it's just that we didn't really anticipate how difficult it would be, so we weren't adequately prepared. As you can see from the photos, it is spectacularly beautiful, and a real adventure. Shabadran beach itself is your reward for reaching the end of the hike, and it's well worth the trouble. Shabadran is an lagoon of crystal clear water, soft white sand, coral and fish sheltered from the breakers by a rocky reef. Shabadran beach

In the photo below you can see the clear water and coral. It's a good idea to bring a snorkel and mask- the snorkeling is great- but don't bother with the flippers/fins. In the middle of the rocky reef there is a natural spa bath hollowed out by the action of the waves. Waves break over the top of the reef and create a waterfall into the spa. After the sweat and effort of the walk, sitting in cool water that fizzes and bubbles around you is brilliant.

Shabadran lagoon

We arrived back to our car about 1:30pm, which left just enough time to check our the 'Warrior's leap' before arriving back to the airport for the flight home. According to legend, a warrior once leapt over a 5m gap in the cliff to escape his enemies, escaping both the enemies and the 5m drop to the sea below. Luckily no climbing was involved. You can drive right up to the cliffs and there's a nice easy path down. You need a pretty good imagination to appreciate the legend but the sea is a pretty blue.

Pretty blue ocean at Warrior's Leap

Finally, all that was left was to catch our flight home and enjoy some well deserved beer! We had a great time in Mare and look forward to our next island adventure.

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