The last stop. But my god, what a place to finish.
The only reason we ended up in Fiji is because the lady in the STA travel place told us we should go there. We hadnt even contemplated going to somewhere like Fiji, especially not for 10 days. Turns out, it was a bloody good shout by the old dear in the victoria STA travel center!!
We flew from Auckland (blog to come) straight into Nadi and arrived around 5:30pm Fiji time. We were then ushered into a room at the airport where a lovely women basically booked our entire trip for us!! We just sat there nodding in excitement and gave her some money at the end! We had read a little about fiji but really, we just wanted to sit on the beach in the sunshine an ensure we had a tan when we came home, mainly because the aussy and nz winters had not halted the fade of our tans! You might have noticed I said Fiji time instead of local time. That is because Fiji time does not go by a watch like conventional methods, but simply goes by the rule, when its done, its done. This became all too apparant for good and some bad reasons on our fiji adventure!
So at 7:30 after some fiji time arranging, we finally left the airport! Still, we couldnt complain as we had booked everything so we had no worries for the next 10 days, except sunbathing! In our package it worked out about £20 a day for all food accomodation and transportation. Ish. This meant we got up, had breakfast made for us, went to the beach (all of 5 feet from the breakfast room,) then had lunch, back to the beach, then dinner. All very laid on and lazy from us!! But, Fiji time.
So after one night in Nadi, nothing to report from there, we jumped on the big yellow catamaran, aptly named the awesome adventures fiji explorer. Its the only boat that island hops daily, basically its like a bus, everyone gets on it to get around the islands, locals, visitors, birds, dogs, everything. So at 830am, we set off out to the island paradises spreading north towards the equator off of the north east coast of fiji mainland. We werent really sure what to expect, except an image of tiny islands and beautiful waters. We were wrong, sort of. The mamanucas, the first cluster of islands are all tiny beautiful islands, the sort of place it takes 5 mins to walk around the whole island. I dont think words can do justice to the size and beauty of these places, well not words i can put together anyway so you'll have to check the pics to see what we mean. But, these Islands closest to the mainland get day trippers and are generally known as busier islands and we just wanted to chill out so we decided to skip these tiny islands and head up to the Yasawa group of Islands, which are the ones a little further away and closer to the equator!
Most people Island hop and stay for one or two days on lots of Islands. We opted for another tactic. 2 Islands, 10 days, 4 nights on one, 5 on another. Turns out, it was a great decision.
Kuata Islands Natural resort was our first port of call. With about 12 small bures(huts) on the island in total, we were the only poeple on the island. The resort was owned by a neighbouring village on the next island and it alone was fundin gthe village, sending the kids to school on the mainland and improving the standard of living in the village. Because of this, those working at the resort were so greatful that we had chosen Kuata and it showed. They were/are so friendly and welcoming, honestly, we didnt want to leave.
As we got off the Catamaran, the sun was blazing down and the crystal clear water surrounding this little place acted almost as if it was highlighting the island itself. This little paradise in the ocean was our home for the next few days and we were instantly chuffed with our (the lady in the offices') decision.
We jumped on their little taxi boat over to the island and were greeted by the staff who were singing, playing the guitar and waving, huge beaming smiles adding to what we had already seen from the boat.You do not get welcomes like that anywhere else and it is certainly something we willnever forget. I have just noticedI have written loads already and we have only just set foot on the island. I hope this re-illiterates how much both matt and I love Fiji.
The accomodation on Kuata was basic but clean and comfortable, no hot water here! On the island itself there is a main beach, long sandy suntrap littered with hammocks and palms, and another beach on the other side, a good 2 mins walk through their vegetable and fruit gardens. Then there is a hill and that my friends, is it. You could probably fit the the island in Hollywell pitches for those who know Loughborough or a few times over in the O2.
Days were spent, for me particularly moving from a Hammock to the dinner hall, back to a hammock and repeat. For Matt it was fairly similar, except he was moving from the beach to the dinner hall and vice versa. Relaxation does not come in any better form. On a few occasions I was woken around midday by a member of staff who pointed out 'Mr. Adam, your lunch is ready.' I was in heaven.
Let it be known that we did do a few activities whilst there, it wasnt all sitting around sunning. One afternooon we headed out to the neighboring island to visit the village and do our cultural bit. Both of us were so glad that we did as the people were so happy to see us and welcomed us in, showed us around and we even visited the school. Some cruise liner had venture in and were recieving a show frm the school kids which we were told by some pastie white skinny little man who obviously worked on the boat that it was infact a 'private' function so we couldnt watch. So our Guide, a local, told us to stay and watch!! His brother and sister were in the show which gave us every right to be there. We then spent a while mingling with the kids, looking around their classrooms and taking pictures! They are so happy, what seems all the time and you can see why. If you take a conversion on their rugby pitch it may just land in the warm waters just beyond the perfect sandy beach. They may not have playstations and sky tv but you know what, I could swap places with them. What money doesnt provide for them, nature provides alternatives in abundance. We can go to tescos and buy some fruit, they can walk 5 yards and pick it fresh off the tree, and mangos and coconuts do not taste the same when that have been shipped accross the world. Neither do bananas, pineapples or papayas. I could go on.
The ladies in the village, whose only income is from visitors, then display there incredible talents for creating beautiful pieces of jewellery etc again from what is provided by nature and you have a sense of almost obligation to buy something. Not because you are pressured to do so, but because you now know where the money goes.
Our second and last activity, OK so we didnt do much, was a shark dive. Another unforgettable moment. You jump in their little boat at 8am, flippers and snorkel in hand, and head off into the middle of the ocean. Deap waters and waves, until in the middle of no where, the ocean floor rises and onit has grown one of the most spectacular reefs we have seen on our travels. And swimming around, if you ignore the thousands of fish, are a dozen reef sharks. Ranging from 1 meter to 2 1/2 they are not shy. I guess over time the sharks have become used to people coming in their territory but it acts as one hell of a spectacle. They get so close to you, so much so you can grab them if you have the coconuts to do so! The locals then do some spear fishing and with the catch, feed the sharks!! They hold these fish out and the sharks come right up and it is then you can literally stroke a shark. One of the guys put a fish in his mouth and the shark came and took it out of his mouth. There is no doubt these animals could kill you easily if they wanted to but they are clearly happy eating smaller prey, thankfully.
The rest of our time during the 4 days here was spent as aforementioned, in hammocks. The evenings were spent dancing, wacthing the staff perform locals dances and eating like kings! A few bonfires were had and love was definetly felt for fiji!
Next stop was Safe landing resort on the Nacula Island, the most northern of the yasawas and the last stop on the big yellow boat. I will wite another piece for this island later on!
Needless to say, we spent a longer time on the next Island so I am guessing it'll be a fairly large piece!! x