Travelling opens our eyes to unseen places and new experiences. Journeying to far-off regions, we have hearts full of optimism and heads full of anticipation.
Visions of what we hope to witness are the pictures painted in our minds by scenes watched on television or glimpsed in magazines.
Flying Fish Cove, high tide & swell.
Flying Fish looks picture-perfect.
Flying Fish Cove at high tide.
The cycle of a location takes time to witness, or several visits. Often as travellers, the luxury of time alludes. What we see is what we get, and what we get is what we remember, blissfully unaware of anything alternate. We marvel at the vision splendour of every moment, yet we rarely see the alternate scene, a location’s alter ego.
Living in Broome, in Western Australia’s Kimberley region for 20-plus years, big tides were part of life. They worked like clockwork on a 12-hour rotation.
Chances are you would witness a high and low tide during your visit, absorbing the ebb and flow. However, the difference between a 6 or 7-metre tide is visually enormous compared to a 12-metre tide.
Sometimes we get lucky. Certain locations assume a double identity. Cable Beach, for instance, was as familiar with the water out of sight as it was lapping at your feet.
Despite this, it’s not always the size of the change that causes the wow factor. Subtle changes can be just as intense and no less impactful on your memory, less can often be more.
High Tide at Flying Fish Cove.
Low Tide at Flying Fish Cove.
Herein lies the beauty of staying in a location for a long period. Cycles get lived, and one gets to see the wheel turn through the seasonal changes. Breathing the possibility of being completely surprised by something you never imagined coming.
However, what happens when you move to a new place? Christmas Island, in my case. And your new go-to place, Flying Fish Cove, is incredible day after day, only changing slightly. The uniformity is strange, to begin with, growing on you the more you visit.
Rock formations of Flying Fish Cove, surrounded by at high tide.
Tides barely fluctuate. It’s eye candy every time you sneak a look, until one day, to your empathetic surprise, it’s unlike any time previous. After two years of looking at it, looking the same, it’s suddenly different.
Christmas Island’s tides come and go akin to everywhere else. What doesn’t happen often is the tide receding at such a distance that it exposures the very reef previously only seen while snorkelling.
There is a sense of comfort and familiarity with something always being the same, a reassurance. Regardless of what is happening in life, it’s a place you can be and just be. Familiar surroundings that suit every mood.
The Cove is where the reef meets the island. You can wander from one to the other, usually with your snorkelling gear.
Water ebbs off the reef at low tide, Flying Fish Cove.
The beach disappears at high tide, Flying Fish Cove.
Over & Under of Flying Fish Cove.
Every now and again, perhaps only once a year, the tide is super low, in fact, a minus tide. As the water ebbs off the reef, which is always under a turquoise veil, it becomes for a short time explorable.
Once the initial surprise dissipates, the curiosity to investigate becomes overwhelming. Coral gardens, clams, starfish and rock formations which are all typically only visible with snorkelling gear, suddenly become freely explored.
Coral Gardens of Flying Fish Cove.
Starfish, Flying Fish Cove at low tide.
Flying Fish Cove is home to some wonderful clams.
Subsequently, for a short time, you can easily walk the reef. Wandering amongst the rock pools, enjoying an up close and personal experience.
Wandering the rock pools at low tide at Flying Fish Cove.
We have lived on Christmas Island for two years, and this is the first time I have witnessed Flying Fish Cove so exposed, uncovering an evocative wild side.
It’s like once or twice a year the Cove gets the devil in her, indulging in a nudie run, exposing all for all to see.
It’s exciting to explore an area of your home you often look at but rarely get to see. A part of you wishes the reef would reveal itself more often. Truth be told, this would take away the excitement of it happening so infrequently.
I would lose the enthusiasm and anticipation in the regularity of a tide chart. It would become normal rather than special.
Low tide at Flying Fish Cove reveals all.
As sure as the sun sets in the west, the Cove will return to normal. Its azure veil returning to hide what we all know is there.
Hence, it’s reassuring to know our go-to place on the island, the place we take heart in identifying as always consistent, will from time to time take a walk on the wild side, inviting all to relish some of its secrets.
As a result, places visited regularly become familiar. Like an old friend, they are forever the same, yet occasionally different.
Travellers will absorb a location’s beauty, often being none the wiser to an alternate scene of the same place. Until it’s seen in a visual medium long after departure, fueling a desire to return, perhaps in the hope of greater opportunities that would allow more time.
Time is the essence of travel, and travel is the essence of time. We all certainly want more time when travelling, and as nice as a place might have been, it’s always hiding something. It knows you’ll want to discover.
Without a doubt, the reef at Flying Fish Cove will reveal itself for all to explore again. Captivating those who have witnessed it previously as much as it will those beholding it for the first time.
The cove will go back to looking as we know and love. That being said, I will never look at it again in quite the same one-dimensional way as I now have seen it in a different light.
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