It’s said a large number of the Norfolk’s spirits hang out around Kingston’s main street, Quality Row, and its elegant official houses. But it’s the duplex that catches my attention. As we park opposite, the bus fills with whispers and apprehension. We’re told about the house’s dark past, and some people choose to stay where they are. I spend my time ensuring I’m surrounded by living people, but eventually freak out and refuse to enter the servants’ quarters. Whether it’s anxiety or the supernatural, I’m convinced the building has evil juju. I let out a hushed giggle when a man jumps because he catches his son’s shadow while taking a photo; another when a woman, who is standing near a window without glass, quietens the group to ask if anyone else felt the “chill in the air” that “ran across” her skin. When I return to my cabin, I fall asleep with the light on.
Done with ghost and history hunting, I’m determined to pursue some nature-based adventures. Heading to Emily Bay, I meet with Jay Barker from Permanent Vacations who’s taking me on a snorkelling tour of the reef. The conditions look a little choppy, and my heart rate increases when Jay tells me we’ll start the tour at aptly named Slaughter Bay. I flipper up and dive in. The water is warm and, while the waves are strong, the reef is soon in view and my initial nerves dissipate. The crackling of the ocean is calming, the coral vibrant and the fish flourishing. Wrasse and blue trevally swim by, while rare Aatuti fish show their colours as the bullies of the bay. It’s without a doubt one of the liveliest reefs I’ve ever set goggles on.
Three hours pass before we pop up for a break. The ripples on the water are lit by the sun, while Lone Pine, which has been here for as long as anyone can remember, stands tall on Point Hunter in the distance. I’m breathless from both battling the current of Slaughter Bay and the inspiring landscape.
With the tide coming in and my skin starting to wrinkle, Jay offers to take me to some rock pools by Anson Bay on the northwest side of the island. Barefooted, I walk up a narrow sandy path and find a rope tied to a tree. “Hold on to this and pull yourself up,” Jay instructs as I start to wish I hadn’t bailed on the past two months of personal training. At the top of the climb, there’s a narrow goat track leading to more ropes, a side-stepping cliff edge and vertical track to the water. I don’t make it all the way down and, in a bid to hide my fear, dub it a good vantage point for photos. As we make our way back to the top of Anson Bay, I kick myself for not going further and vow to come back and tackle the rock pools in the future.