Aisari was very pretty. The big bay is accessed through a maze of shallow reefs, which flatten the seas and give it protection from all sides. We anchored away from the settlement and near the reef in anticipation of some good snorkeling. The nearby beach, which was still pretty far, was covered with conspicuous “Private” signs, so that took going ashore off of the table.
In the morning, we donned our snorkel gear and went in for a look. It turned out there wasn’t much to be seen. There were a few fish, but most of the coral was dead and the visibility was pretty poor. We decided Aisari was a good spot for a lazy weekend and got to work on that.
As we were getting ready to pull up anchor a couple of days later, a guy in an outrigger paddled out from the private beach. We bid him good morning. He responded in kind and then apologized. He explained that his father had sent him out to collect an anchoring fee. This seemed dodgy, and was certainly unexpected. “How much does he want? Two hundred, three hundred?” “Five thousand.”
Once he explained that he wasn’t kidding, we told him that we couldn’t afford that and that (if acceptable) we would leave instead. He accepted this without argument and paddled home. I get the feeling that may have been the goal in the first place. Strangely he did not approach any of the other anchored boats that were nearby, so we remain uncertain if this was normal or opportunistic.