Snorkeling in Gataivai

Snorkeling in Gataivai

Living next to a beach is pretty freaking awesome. I can get in the water as often as I want, whenever I want… well, except on Sundays unfortunately, as is the current rule in my village peninsula. So on this particular Sunday, I needed some saltwater therapy after a long week and a longer week to come, and I ventured to Gataivai beach some 20 minutes away for an arvo snorkel with my Fish Man.

I love snorkeling at Gataivai. The beach is easy to access, right off the main road, it goes from shallow sand and reefs to deep vast nothingness in a matter of a few hundred yards, meaning it scares and excites me, and I just love that there’s a variety of fish and coral, and lots of it too! Only cons are really that it’s right by the Pago Harbor, where I’ve heard of and seen (photos of, only) bull sharks coming for a visit, which terrifies me out of my wits; also that there’s a sewage treatment plant literally across the road, and sometimes it’s stinky above water, and makes me feel icky sometimes when I’m in the water too, especially after a big rain.

This photo journal is neither here nor there though… this one is about the what we saw underwater. When we got in the water, we immediately came across a casual sea turtle. There were several others in the distance, but this one we came across was munching away at algae on the reef, ignoring us mostly, and showing off a little too. We hung out with this sea turtle for probably a good 20 minutes.

Just a mini highlight of some of what we saw… We saw several juvenile humphead wrasses, tons of butterflyfish, parrotfish (small), blue damselfish, pennant bannerfish, triggerfish, and even a scorpionfish! We initially thought it was a stonefish, but after a little checking, we now think it’s a scorpionfish. It was all around a lovely snorkel.

Reliving these seemingly insignificant vignettes from moments of my life at home through photos… I am reminded that there is beauty everywhere in everything… and that time spent on doing things that bring you joy is time well spent.

Sending warmth and love to wherever you are seeing this from!



Photos by Ian Moffitt and Nerelle Moffitt

Rummaging through the archives

Rummaging through the archives

I’m searching through my archives this weekend for fine art photos that I can use to sell prints of in the near future (!!!). Attending an artists’ social mixer a couple of weeks ago has lit a spark for me to get back to the arts. I’m starting with photos, but I’d like to eventually get into hand crafts and graphic illustrations as well.

Anyhow, here are some photos I re-edited from my trip to Ofu early last year that I stumbled upon while rummaging through the archives.

My home on the reef

My home on the reef

My home on the reef.

I had come home from work and the tide was high and the sun was low in the horizon.

It was one of those days where the weather is just right, and the water is inviting you in. 


Coconut Point sunset


*sighs* marine debris *smh*

dip dive

staghorn coral village

underwater home




wish upon a starfish

it was a blur

do you see it?

moray eeeeeeel

ready for his closeup

always love these views

a diverse environment

Summer’s coming

Summer’s coming

The tradewinds are calming down.

It’s bittersweet to know that summer is on its way.

I’ll miss the windy breeze blowing in from the beach to keep us cool at home. 

At the same time, I’m looking forward to flat seas and getting in the water more. 

We went out last week and the wind had just come down from 30 knots to a more manageable wind speed for swimming at the beach. Our friend’s daughter, Eve, was out playing with her friend when saw us heading out and asked to come snorkeling with us. She went without fins, and did surprisingly well swimming against the current. I’m so happy to get back in the water and see my fish friends again.

Dear summer, more days like these, please.

Sessions: Mareike [moana/azul] – Part 3

Sessions: Mareike [moana/azul] – Part 3

Part 3 of the session with Mareike.

[ moana / azul ]

Snapped these on the same morning as part 1 and part 2 of this session, using Mareike’s Canon G12 camera and underwater housing. It was such a dream to shoot Mareike in this setting… the beach is our home. I think I met her for the first time at this very beach. I’d been meaning to take her photos for the longest time, so for it to finally happen makes me so happy. And the photos came out awesome too! She actually gifted me with the camera that I used for this shoot, and I feel so lucky to have a friend like her in my life.

Snorkeling in Ofu | Part 3

Snorkeling in Ofu | Part 3

A late addition, but I almost completely forgot about these photos I snapped on my last day in Ofu. Taken Jan 8, 2019, on a Canon G7X with housing, while snorkeling in the To’aga lagoon.

My favorite fish

Testing out the camera settings / say hi to Rick and Polly!

Two fish out of water 😉

Porites coral

Acanthurus lineatus

Abudefduf sexfasciatus over porites coral

Fungia coral polyp

Fungia coral polyp

Fungia coral polyp

Cephalopholis argus

Cephalopholis argus

Abudefduf sexfasciatus

Chrysiptera biocellata

Chrysiptera biocellata

Chaetodon citrinellus

Chaetodon citrinellus

Chaetodon citrinellus

Chaetodon citrinellus

More snorkeling / fish photos here and here.

Snorkeling in Ofu – Part 2

Snorkeling in Ofu – Part 2

More underwater living treasures photographed while snorkeling in the shallows of To’aga lagoon during low tide.

I’ll do my best to ID what I can at some point, but comment below if you see any you know!

Ichthyologists, please chime in!

Photos from January 7, 2019.

Thanks to Mareike S. for letting me borrow your Canon G7X and housing, and Rick M. for shooting with me!

View more Ofu underwater pics here.

Snorkeling at To’aga Beach | Ofu Photo Journal

Snorkeling at To’aga Beach | Ofu Photo Journal

Talofa from Ofu island!

We arrived on Thursday, December 27th on the only flight of the week. I’m with Ian and his parents, Rick and Polly. It’s their first time here, and Ian and I have been here before. We’re all elated to be here. We walk off the airstrip directly to the front door of Vaoto Lodge to check in with owner Deborah Malae, and were greeted by familiar faces – our neighbors from Tutuila, Mark and Alice, are also here for the week; and Jamie and Hallie from the Institute of Bird Populations (IBP) invite us over on their truck to Ofu village to check out a kingfisher that they were rehabbing.

Then we head off straight towards To’aga beach, about a 15-minute walk from the Lodge. We lather up in our favorite reef-safe sunscreen, and have a snack on the beach. Ian is the first in the water, as always; and I can tell just by looking at him that the water is perfect. I set up the Canon G7X and underwater housing that my friend Mareike was super kind to let me borrow, and follow behind Rick and Polly and sigh a happy sigh. How lucky am I?!

We snorkel towards an area that science folks refer to as “Pools 300” and that’s where we are met by mounds and mounds of beautiful and healthy porites coral heads and schools of manini (convict tangs) and needlefish, and so much life. My snorkel mask has a constant fogging problem, but Ian uses his magic spit to help clear it up and I hand him the camera to take photos too. I am grateful to be here, feeling alive in Ofu, underwater, and seeing this beauty. Thanks babe!

Life Lately: Diving More (+ New Job, New Hair)

Life Lately: Diving More (+ New Job, New Hair)

Hello hello! I’m back with a new blog post, a new ‘do, and a new job! I’m basically a new person haha.

It’s been a hot minute since I last updated but I won’t bore you with dreary details. Just know that it’s been a hectic season for me, and lots has changed, which I’m excited about. My short (again) hair and new job being the obvious ones, but I don’t have any photos to show for any of that just yet soooo, here are some photos of me scuba diving!

Ian and I have been diving every weekend for the past several weeks and it’s been a real adventure! I saw two white tip reef sharks about 6 feet long just this last weekend and it terrified and excited me – watching one of them approach us and then turn away at a flinch. I clenched Ian’s hand nervously. It was scary awesome.

These photos were from a much shallower dive in Utulei/Gataivai, where Ian helped me practice skills and pretty much took all these photos.

I have a back log of photos to share, so please bear with me while I find my new balance in this flurry of a new season. Toodaloo!

Dive Log: Birthday Out West at Nua-Seetaga Bay

Dive Log: Birthday Out West at Nua-Seetaga Bay

DATE: Saturday, 17 March 2018

DIVE SITE: Nua-Se’etaga, American Samoa


SNORKELERS: Mark, Alice, and Eric

MAX DEPTH: 75 ft.
TIME: 70 minutes
END PSI: 1000
NOTES: 11am medium-low tide. Kind of a long surface swim, and a little murky at first but cleared up nicely when we dropped down below 30 feet. Alice was on snorkel and free dove to point out sweet pinnacle formation. Swam through a little gap in coral. Got buzzed by a beautiful green turtle! Spotted a juvenile Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)! Swam back. Ian helped me swim back in through the riptide.

DIVE LOG: Wreck Diving the USS Liberty in Tulamben, Bali

DIVE LOG: Wreck Diving the USS Liberty in Tulamben, Bali

My week in Bali was coming to an end and I was bummed about it. There was so much more that I wanted to do and explore, so much ground to cover in so little time. I didn’t want to say goodbye yet.


With a hurried sense of adventure, we took a risk, and what we ended up doing may just have been our best decision yet.

The day before our departure flight, we got on our moto-scooter and drove for 3 hours from Seminyak to east Bali, including a quick stop at Padang Bai for lunch.

Surf & sea pizza for only $7 in Padang Bai!

Our destination: Tulamben
Our goal: Scuba diving

If you’re in Bali and want to go scuba diving, there are great dive sites all along the east coast. Tulamben wasn’t our first choice–we heard lots of great things about Amed and Padang Bai, which were closer–but after finding out that the USS Liberty shipwreck was a shoredive and having the option to dive without a guide, we were sold.

I would have loved to do a boat dive and wouldn’t have minded a guide, but we were running on limited time, and still had to moto back for 3 hours to our place in Seminyak.

We didn’t do much planning for this dive, which is something we really should have done. We Googled a list of dive shops in Tulamben, and almost all of them wouldn’t let us rent gear without a hiring a guide. Finally, we found one called Madha Dive Shop. The location could not have been any more perfect – it was right next to the USS Liberty shipwreck!

We met the dive shop operator named Made, and he set us up with our gear. We forgot to bring our GoPro so we rented an Olympus Tough point and shoot camera.

And in case you’re wondering why I’m wearing a wetsuit in the Indian Ocean, they were available as an option at the dive shop and I didn’t want to risk getting cold. Basically, I’m spoiled for warm waters.

About the USS Liberty

The USS Liberty was a US military cargo ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese battleship in January 1942 during World War II. It went down 10-miles from the Lombok Strait and was tugged back to a beach in Tulamben so parts could be salvaged.

Twenty one years later in 1963, the nearby Mt. Agung volcano erupted (one of the most prominent volcanic eruptions of our era) and the rattling of the tremors caused the USS Liberty to slip back into the ocean on a slope with depths ranging from 15ft. to 75ft.

I was nervous at first

Because I always associated shipwrecks with sharks for some odd reason, and I kicked around awkwardly as it was my first time wearing open heel/strap fins.

I was totally fine though as soon as I started my descent and dipped below the surface–my weight distributed until I was neutrally buoyant, my muscles relaxed, my breathing slowed, and my ears equalized.

The first thing I noticed were the fish.

There were so many of them. At least 3 different schools were swimming past me as I sunk lower until I was hovering over the ship. And they were huge! The fish, I mean. They must be protected in that area or something because we have (some of) the same exact fish in American Samoa, but these were 2 to 3 times bigger! And they swam up to me curiously; not at all scared when I would reach my hand out to say hello.

The Lonely Grouper

This Goliath Grouper was about 4ft long and was chillin’ out super hard in one of the hollow crevices of the USS Liberty. They are typically shy gentle giants and I stared at this guy for a long minute. I also just realized that I have never seen more than 1 grouper at the same time, which is ironic because of its name.

Down here it feels like roaming on another planet and I’m flying through a spaceship

Side note: while writing this I stopped for like 10 minutes and stared at this picture of fish (below). I don’t know if it’s just me, maybe I’m really tired or something but the fish look like they’re moving! I swear, it’s so cool.

You can click on it to zoom. Do you see the fish moving? Is it really just me? Am I going insane????

There’s so much life down here.

It’s a different kind of dive than back home. Here, the ocean floor is a muck and looks bare, but after closer inspection, you’ll find garden eels and stingrays hiding in plain view. A few spots of coral here and there, but on the shipwreck there is all sorts of living matter that now take residence.

Shout out to my guy for doing it all

Driving through crazy Bali traffic (on a scooter nonetheless) to and from Seminyak and Tulamben (is nuts). But you made it happen. Thank you for resting your hand on my thigh every now and then to check on me. I am leaving out so so so many reasons why you’re amazing, but just know that you are, and that I love you!

Dive Log 05:

Date: August 23, 2017

Site: USS Liberty Shipwreck, Tulamben, Bali – Indian Ocean

Depth: 70 feet

Total time: 75 minutes

Visibility: 50 feet

Weather: Partly cloudy

Dive type: Shore dive

Gas Type: Air

Dive buddy: Ian M; Divemaster

Dive Shop: Madha Dive


Back on land

It was abaout 3pm when we got out of the water, and I could immediately feel gravity taking a toll on me. I trudged up the shallow beach, rinsed off, drank some iced coffee, and waited for the photos to transfer to my iPhone, while Ian bought a pair of (probably knock off) polarized Oakley sunglasses from Made’s friend who was there selling them for super cheap.

We geared up for the long ride back to Seminyak and stopped a couple of times to refuel the bike, our bellies (we needed more caffeine!!), and admire some of the most incredible views of Bali on the vistas along the way. The drive was long and hard but it was so worth it to see the beautiful countryside and witness some traditional religious rituals along the way.

Tired but stoked in Seminyak

We finally got back to Seminyak at 7:30pm. Our butts were so sore from the roadtrip, and we felt thoroughly burnt out. But we were hangry!!! We didn’t eat a proper breakfast and that surf and sea pizza seemed like forever ago. It was our last night in Bali too, so we took a cue from one of our favorite shows ever — Parks and Recreation “TREAT YO’SELF”! We took long hot showers, dressed up in our fanciest clothes, and prepared to indulge.

Ian was craving for a heavy meat so we stopped by Smokehouse BBQ for some real American goodness and ordered some of the best sliders I’ve ever had. They even had American beers! I on the other hand was feenin’ for seafood so we headed over to The Holy Crab for shrimp and callamari galore.

We stuffed our faces like mad. We were tired but we felt so electric that night–high on our epic adventure–and we had zero regrets about it!

Bali, i love you

xoxo Nerelle

One more excursion

We made one more stop to check out the popular Potato Head Club. It must have been an extra high key night for the club (or maybe there were famous people there that I missed) because the security was intense. They searched our bike before we even turned in to the parking lot, which was a bit of a maze to get to, and then patted Ian down and checked my rattan bag. I didn’t even think about what to expect of the place but once we got there, I was impressed. The exterior design of a couple thousand shutters was really cool, and inside, the vibe was really laid back, tropical, and just. so. cool… We lounged on the floor pillows to look up at the string lights swinging between palm trees and admired the view and the sound of the ocean not far away. The ambiance was so chill that I almost fell asleep right then and there, so we yawned and decided it was time for bed. We had another long day ahead of us.

All photos taken with either my iPhone 6 or the Olympus Tough camera. Ian took almost all the underwater pics!