A week in Paradise

Trip Start Jul 02, 2003
Trip End Jan 17, 2004

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Friday, November 14, 2003

Finally it's time to move on and I'm doing November the 14th for the first time this year. This afternoon I fly to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands and will do November the 14th all over again once I've passed the International Date Line. So I will be watching the England France Rugby game on Saturday while the rest of you have to wait until Sunday to watch it!

I'm back in Nadi town now having spent a fantastic week and a half touring round some of the islands to the North West of Fiji. There's two groups of islands, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas. The Mamanucas tend to be more of your text book desert island - a small bit of sand from one to three or four hundred metres in diametre with some coconut palms in the middle and surrounded by crystal clear turquoise blue water. Quite a few of them have 'resorts' on the island although the term resort applies fairly losely as it tends to be one big bure (hut) with a dormitory, sitting area and kitchen. Well that's all you really need on an island like that.

The Yasawas tend to be bigger islands with resorts dotted around in little bays. Again they have beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and coconut palms as far as you can see. Everyone gets around by boat - the Mamanucas are too small to have roads on them but you could probably build a few roads on the Yasawas. It's just that nobody has, they just walk on ancient paths or take a boat.

To get around the islands, you get yourself onto the big 'Yellow Boat' - a fast catamaran which makes the trip from Nadi to the top of the Yasawas and back every day just getting on and off the boat at the islands of your choice.

My first stop was to the Sunrise Lagoon Resort at the top end of the Yasawa group on an island called Nanua Lai Lai. Living up to its name, the sunrise was quite spectacular as it rises over the ocean right in front of the resort. We stayed in what can only be described as straw huts just a few metres from the shore. From the resort you can walk across the island to the beach on the opposite side which is supposedly the one they used in the film the Blue Lagoon - it's a lovely beach whatever. I spent a couple of nights here before moving on to Nacula island to my favourite beach of them all and probably my favourite beach in the world. Whitehaven beach in Australia probably beats it in terms of beauty but you can't stay there! It's the same place I stayed last year, Oarsman Bay but it was great to go back for a couple of days and see it again. That evening the local chief came down to visit us so we had a big Kava ceremony and I chatted to the chief about what he does on the island until about 2am when I left them to it.

The beach at Oarsman Bay, Nacula Island, Fiji

The beach at Oarsman Bay, Nacula Island, Fiji

Next it was time to move on to another island, Naviti and to Botairas resort. This was one of the nicest places I've stayed - the people throughout the islands are incredibly friendly but this lot were some of the best. The first day we went out looking for Manta Rays in a channel where they are often spotted as the tide changes but unfortunately all that we saw was a couple of reef sharks - it obviously wasn't our day. That night we had a big Kava ceremony and the locals sang Fijian songs. Not having seen the Mantas I decided to stay another night to look again but when we went the next day, again they were nowhere to be seen. There were a couple of Fijian guys showed up that morning who were local musicians and they just seemed to love singing - they sang all day long which was a perfect backdrop to a lazy day on the beach. That night there were only really couples staying at the resort apart from me and they all went to bed by 9pm so I was wondering what to do with myself when some locals came over from one of the cruise boats. They were all good mates with the guys running our resort so they had yet another big Kava session and more singing till the small hours.

The boys from Botairas catch a Wahoo for dinner

These guys just love to sing!

Click here to play a short video clip
Don't know if this will work but try clicking on the picture to play a very short video clip.

The Yasawas are definitely one of my favourite places in the world and if it wasn't for the fact that the flights to the Cook Islands are fully booked for the next few weeks, I'd be putting my flights back and spending another week or so up there. These are some of the friendliest people in the world and you never feel that they're trying to rip you off or sell you anything. In fact, they don't really seem very interested in making money, they have no real desire to own lots of western consumer goods and in fact, the idea of actually owning anything personally rather than as a community is only a very recent thing. Everyone has loads of food, the sit around and chat and drink kava and generally have a good time and everyone just seems quite happy to leave it that way!

After the Yasawas I moved on down to SouthSea island in the Mamanuca group, a tiny place probably no more than 100m in diametre with just 30 guests. I spent a couple of nights there doing some sun worshiping, some snorkelling and general partying before moving on to Beachcomber Island, about 5 times the size of SouthSea but still tiny for more of the same. I did surpass myself there with a bit of strenuous activity with my first go at waterskiing apart from a very quick unsucessful attempt a very long time ago when I was about 14. I can't think of a more idyllic location for a bit of waterskiing although my arms are aching today from hanging on to the rope for dear life!

Hermit Crab Races - South Sea Island

Sunset on South Sea Island

Waterskiing at Beachcomber Island

So three weeks on I'm sad to leave Fiji - If the flights to Raro weren't full I'd be staying here a couple more weeks I think but now it's time to move on.
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
Sunrise Lagoon Resort
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