Approximate Location: Lat/Long: 11°08'S / 152°20'E
Panasia provides sheltered anchorage in a very large, beautiful lagoon with striking scenery of limestone cliffs.
We traded for paw paw, tomatoes and as many 1- 1.5kg crayfish as we wanted! There no services or shops on this island and don't expect to be able to obtain water. As they have no water of their own. John is a very skilled trader and whilst he is very nice is out for as much as he can get! C-Map?, Navionics and latest electronic charts are all out. A very protected and comfortable anchorage. Don't make the mistake and anchor too by the cliffs too close to the outer reef where it can get a bit choppy, it's better to find a spot off the eastern most beach.
Entering the Lagoon
NOTE: The lagoon entrance differs significantly from both the Australian charts and C-Map? MaxNT v14 charts. Furthermore, the GPS waypoint provided in SV Clementine's cruising guide appears to be on the reef.
It is best to approach this lagoon from the east with reasonably calm seas and the sun overhead. Developed winds will tend to cause breaking waves right across the entrance, making it difficult to identify the boundaries of the channel until you are in the danger zone. The pressure wave which develops in the channel under these conditions makes for an exhilarating white-knuckle ride into the safety of the lagoon. Once inside the water is very calm and clear, but remain vigilant for several large coral bommies on the way into the southern anchorage.
Exploring the island
If you strike up a conversation with the locals, you may be able to convince them to show you the skull cave on nearby Pana Vara Vara? island, or the enormous limestone cave on Panasia which they use today as a cyclone shelter, and in the past served as a fortress for defence against warriors from neighbouring islands. The cave also features a shark-free swimming pool. Be prepared to offer kina and 2-stroke fuel for these experiences, and remember to take plenty of sunblock, bug spray, and sturdy footwear for climbing steep slopes of sharp jagged rock.
Note: You WILL need a guide to reach these sites. Apart from the fact you will be on private property, finding your way up the cliffs and through the jungle paths would be extremely difficult if you don't know your way.
The village has about 90 inhabitants and the chiefs name is John Mwasi. John is a very sociable fellow who lives very close to the anchorage and speaks good English.