After a long day mainly just hanging around Auckland I got to Nadi early evening on the 2nd and booked into the plush Novotel for a few nights. A bit pricey despite an internet bargain but with transfers, massive breakfasts and golf on Vijay Singh's old 9 hole course all free not that bad a deal. My ears had been giving me some grief and that and a headache had made me feel a bit fed up so I thought a bit of comfort was in need. I made a doctors appointment, got that sorted and spent the rest of the time laying by the pool reading another D.Francis and playing golf (best score a 13 over par 41) in the humid heat. I also narrowly lost a competitive table tennis match against a friendly Korean fella before packing for my trip around Fiji's islands.
I had pre-booked a Bula Pass which gives you transport to all the islands and transfers between them as often as you like, and an accommodation/meal pass which covers most of those costs. Taking advice from a very reliable source I had booked my first 2 nights at Oarsmans Bay which is the furthest island you can get to and the pleasant cruise took about 4h30m with stops at other island resorts along the way.
Oarsmans Bay Resort, reached by water taxi from the catamaran, is part of the Yasawas Islands group and has a lovely curved beach with a handful of sunbeds and hammocks dotted along the white sands. The dorm was OK, the showers/toilets iffy but the staff fantastic and the varied group I was with had a great laugh and stayed up very late on our last evening together having a series of random conversations and some activities involving crisps and ants which weren't so pleasant. I managed a walk to the mountain top one morning for stunning views (and exercise!) but the main attraction was the beach, it's hard to pull yourself too far away and I was very tempted to book an extra night. We had one massive downpour on the first night when the place certainly didnt look so great, so I watched the Rugby 7s with a friendly group of locals.
From there I booked the Botaira Resort also in the Yasawas group, about an hours cruise away. This was far quieter, only 15 guests on the island when I arrived and only 5 when I left (Something I said...?) so the evenings were very short and had to finish by 10pm anyway when the electricity went off until 6am! I shared a dorm with a Russian woman on the first night but she seemed to take an instant dislike to me so that didn't make things feel too comfortable! The beach was very nice if not as glorious as Oarsmans Bay but again the staff were brilliant, just could have done without the yapping dog at night. I went snorkeling with Dan and Sue (from Oregon) to Mantra Ray and spent the rest of the time relaxing on the beach, particularly on the 2nd day there when my guts were not too healthy despite there excellent food.
I finished my week at Bounty Island in the Mamanuca group. A similar set up with a modern bunked dorm this time with welcome air-con and one ensuite shower/toilet between 14 beds. The beach was OK but a bit messy with lots of seaweed but they did have a pool with sunbeds overlooking the ocean, and a few turtles. I walked around the island a few times, taking about 20 minutes and going past the remains of the Fantasy Love Island set. Evenings were quietish but did find Otto from Norway to exchange travel stories with.
All three of my resorts you had to pay a little extra for, but it was well worth it. Some of the others sounded grim - I was told they had bedbugs at Beachcomber and South Sea Island, and massive spiders in the thatched roofs at Sunset Lodge so thank god I didn't choose those two! The tour around the islands has been great; they certainly feel very remote like the last bastion of tropical paradise. There's barely any internet or mobile signal! I got back to Nadi for a couple of nights and had to be up at 3.50am this morning (16th) and am now in Auckland city centre as I have a long 11 hour wait for my flight to the Cook Islands where I arrive at 3.50am!