So after our initial spider ordeal we were hoping for some more re-enforced accommodation on the next island. We took a tin can to the next island that was just next door. This island was called Coral View as obviously it had a load of coral out the front. The good thing about this place was that they actually protected it unlike many of the islands that just plough their tin cans through the coral. This did mean that we had to get out of our tin can and wade through the water on slippery steppingstones. We managed to blag ourselves a second lunch because Nacula’s was so early! Even though we were back to bunk beds in a dorm it was in a brick building and the window gauze (insect things) were actually intact! We yet again spent our day’s lazing about reading and exploring the islands. The best thing about this island was that it had a puppy called snorkel and had some nice buffet food on the go. This was apart from the cornflakes that Turl had in the morning which were in fact made of cardboard, but we can’t have everything.
The next day we headed off to another island. We were trying to see as many as we could in the time frame that we had. When we got off our tin can we were on a beautiful stretch of long beach and everyone was really happy about how beautiful it was. However, we were not staying on this beach and actually had to hike for forty minutes in the baking heat over to the other side of the island. Everyone was either in bare foot or flip flops so it was a bit of an ordeal! When we actually got to our accommodation it was not as nice as any of the others at all. We got a tiny a lunch that were barely fill the smallest of appetites let alone one like Turloughs. It turned out that they were quite a rip off island, wanting to charge not only for crab racing but for a Kava ceremony as well! This was normally most Fijians way of welcoming you to the island, so it would be like us charging someone for a cup of tea in our homes. As it turned out some people actually paid for the crab race thinking that they might give the money away for the winner. They drew a circle out in the sand and a smaller one in the middle. After the players had named and numbered their hermit crabs they placed them all in the smaller circle and then the first one to reach the outer circle was the winner. It actually turned out to seem rather cruel and the winner only got a cheap half a coconut and no where near the money that they must have made from it! The beach by this resort was no where near as nice as the one on the other side of the island and was also the windy side, so even though we managed to get our own room again, we only stayed for the one night and left the next day!
We hoped back onto the big catamaran to get down to Long Beach Island next. This was, as you can imagine, situated on an extremely long (for a Fijian island) stretch of pure white sandy beach. We again managed to get a room to ourselves whilst everyone else was put into dorms, and this one even had our own bathroom! Jackpot. This resort looked like it used to be a nice one (non hostel) and we had TWO taps on our shower, so we thought that maybe we actually had warm water for our shower. But sadly no, just the freezing cold as ever. The tide went out really far on our first day so we walked along the beach saving starfish and other fish that had got stuck out of the water. We also came across two local gangs of rival dogs. One was following us and obviously ventured into the other gangs territory so all hell broke loose. Luckily for the one dog following us, Turlough guided him passed the other angry gang shouting at the dogs like a madman.
The food on this island was really nice thank goodness and it was buffet style meaning Turlough could devour as much as they could put out. At one meal time there was a group of us talking about all the food we were missing from home, and we started going on and on about mash potato and the next meal time they served it up! It was amazing. We were used to pretty much just rice and fish but they put on spreads of curries, mash, casseroles and all sorts. (Can you tell our opinion of the islands varied mainly due to quality and quantity of food?)
Things were too get even better however as the next island was my favourite of them all. It was Manta Ray Island, we had to pay a little more for it as it was a real resort, but we had extra night vouchers we weren’t going to use so we could give them two instead of paying more. We got our own tree house for the first night and then a dorm for the second. On the day that we arrived there we went for a snorkel on their protected reef and it was simply stunning. It was perfect because there was a little bit of sand to get into the water so you could get all your snorkel on etc then a small swim with a bit of current out to the most gorgeous reef. You could definitely see the difference in the reefs that were protected to the ones that weren’t. This one was huge, with beautiful colours, blues, reds, purples and greens. And there were so many fish you could barely see past your hand., huge great schools of them and so many different beautiful varieties. I could have spent all day out there but Turlough kept getting tired and putting his feet down on the coral. All we heard was not to get cut by coral because it’ll keep growing in your foot and blow up yet every time I looked over I saw his huge pasty feet standing around on bits of sharp coral! It was definitely the best reef that we snorkelled in Fiji, like something out of Finding Nemo!
The food on this island was insanely good as well; it was like eating out at a restaurant. Some nights with a buffet and some with an a la carte menu. There was a huge range on offer as well including burgers, fish, curries, salads, chicken and the rest! That night we went down to the beach to play cards under the stars where we came across a preying mantis. It was right at our feet, a huge great thing about 5 inches long! It was staying incredibly still, letting ants run over it and eating them when they got to his head. Turlough decided to get a closer inspection and got his face about a foot away from it. Obviously the mantis didn’t like this and turned his head to look at him, then jumped right into his face. He crapped himself and it was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.
The next morning we got to opportunity to snorkel with Manta rays. You don’t know what time you’re going to leave as the staff have to go out and look for them in the morning, so you just wait for them to ring a bell. When you hear this bell everyone stops what they’re doing (lazing on the beach) and rushes round to get their snorkel equipment. You then all pile into a tin can (as ever) and go out to where the Manta rays have been spotted. When we were in the boat there was a freak tiny spell of rain on us so we all got soaked. It didn’t matter though as it was a great feeling jumping of the sides of the tin can into the warm pure blue waters. When we surfaced there were people by the rays so we had to swim over to them. It was actually really scary looking down for the first time to this giant 8” black diamond directly below me! As soon as I got over that though you could see how amazingly beautiful these creatures really are. We lost one for a while (they are hard to keep up with when they get going) but then it appeared in shallow waters again. I knew this was my chance to get in front so I swam through a gigantic school of fish, where others went round (idiots) so I got closest to it to see it in full glory. It was really astonishing how gracious this giant creature was, despite its size. So I was at the front with the guide following this great animal for about ten minutes. It was quite hard as there was a really strong current, but this just meant that the weaker swimmers dragged behind! At one point the guide told us to slow down a bit not to scare the ray and some moron decided to swim right down to try and take a photo of it. Obviously it just bombed off in a second, and everyone was like ‘nice one idiot.’ We caught up with it again though and followed it some more until it swam too deep for our vision and disappeared into the blue. This was without doubt one of the best things we’ve ever done, and highly recommend you do it, if ever you get the chance!
The fun was not over there however, as on the next island (Sunset waya) we got to snorkel with Reef Sharks! This again, was absolutely brilliant. We piled into yet another tin can for about 40 minutes (this one didn’t even have seats!) to get out to the reef. The coral here out in the middle of the sea was beautiful, apart from some fool that had carved their name into some of the coral. Have you ever heard of more of an idiot? Just after we had jumped in, I turned round and spotted one of the sharks coming in from a distance. It was freaky at first, swimming with a shark, but when you got used to them you can see how beautiful they are, and they were only about 2meters long so not too bad! Soon enough loads of them piled in, obviously expecting some food off our guides. At one point we were all swimming together in a gap in the coral and the guides starting throwing spears around us (rouge Fijians as ever) to catch some fish to feed the sharks. As soon as they did this all the sharks came in and started swimming around us. Eventually I built up the courage to reach out and stroke one, it was immense! They felt almost velvety and didn’t mind being stroked at all. One of the guides kept grabbing them and holding them out for people to stroke which they certainly did mind. This just seemed unnecessary and cruel so we just gently stroked them ourselves without upsetting the sharks. I didn’t want to leave it was so much fun, but we had a pretty long amount of time with them so I couldn’t complain.
When we were back in our tin can on the way back to shore. One of the girls in the boat starting pointing frantically a something, so we all turned around and saw a huge black fin swimming around. It was unbelievable, definitely like something out of jaws. (Even though no one did the theme tune which is just outrageous) We slowly sailed over to the fin and got right up close to it. We could see that it was a HUGE black hammer head shark that must have been around 4meters long! Of course everyone idiotically stood up to one side of our tiny tin can boat and nearly flipped the thing over, sending everyone into panic. The last thing anyone wants in that moment in time is to fall into the water!! No one could believe we were seeing a massive shark when we were all just in this tiny little ‘boat.’
When we did get back to shore, there was a fat kid who had been afraid of swimming and sea sick (why did he come along) who dramatically collapsed on the sand and lay there for about an hour refusing any help. It was hilarious.
That was pretty much the only thing that we did on that island, and even managed to cram one more island in before having to return to Nadi. This island was Kuata, one of the more beautiful islands we visited, due to the ‘mountain’ and black rocks against the pure white sand. On this island we got another cultural show including more fire dancing, which was a great goodbye to the yasawas. During one of our lazing about sessions we got absconded by one of the Fijians to help him sing and play Rod Stewarts “I don’t want to talk about it” on guitar!
It was from this island that we went on the ‘round the island’ rip off tour. It was supposed to show us spots where Tom Hanks’ Castaway was filmed, but in reality we just sat in the old faithful tin can and sailed around the island. We did see one cliff where Tom Hanks’ character almost committed suicide off, but then just carried on around the island. At one point we came across some Fijians fishing with harpoons in the water, so we picked them up and took them back to the resort. Obviously they were just charging us to come along on their taxi run to pick up the fisherman with tonight’s dinner.
Unfortunately the next day we headed off back to the brown sands of Nadi beach. We stayed at mamas again and did admin things like showering and washing. Turlough somehow managed to get a HOT shower, his third shower in three weeks! However mine was cold and I was still waiting until Oz to get my hot shower. We also got burgers in the hostel next door, it was so good to eat something other than rice! One our day of departure we didn’t have to leave until 4pm. The problem was that it was BOILING so we couldn’t wear many clothes but we were heading to Melbourne in the middle of winter!
We were both excited to be moving on to somewhere new again, but we both absolutely adored the paradise of Fiji and would go back there in an instant!
Sorry it’s taken to long to write this but we’re finally beginning to catch up! Thanks for reading if you still are! We miss everyone loads but are still having the best time! xxxxxx