Our arrival in Fiji was greatly anticipated because we would be back to the hot weather and our tans desperately needed topping up after 6 weeks in New Zealand. We were greeted at the airport with a welcome song from the locals and a lady holding a sign with our names on it. Before long we were on our transfer from the main island, Vitu Levu, across to our first stop on Mana Island in the Mamanuca Island group. We took all our bags onto this little motor boat and whizzed between the islands until we reached Mana, a mere 40 minutes from the mainland. Once again we were greeted with a welcome song from the Ratu Kini village before we were shown our accommodation. We stayed in the village on Mana island in the dorm Bure (a traditional style house with a thatched roof). The Bure was very basic and so was the food but the village was really friendly and we got to have some sort of insight into traditional Fijian life, rather than being in a resort.
On our first night everybody got together after dinner for an Island Night which involved a show from the staff and locals of Pacific Island song and dance and Fire Dancing. We really enjoyed this, and it was special because there weren't many people staying on the island and all the people in the show you recognised from the hostel or the village.
Our second day on Mana we went round to Sunset Beach on the other side of the island as this beach was much nicer than the one by the village which had a lot of boats coming and going. To get there we had to walk down the 'runway' that the posh island resort used to transfer its Japanese guests, this was just a strip of grass cleared from the forest and its not used very frequently.Over on Sunset Beach we did some snorkelling and saw a lot of fish, just like in Oz. We also stayed down on the beach to watch the spectacular sunset which the beach is renowned for.
The following day we spent the morning on the beach and then got our transfer back to the mainland. Unfortunately 2 people got on our boat instead of another one and wanted to go to different islands other than the ones our boat was scheduled to stop at. After a bit of an argument our skipper agreed to take them. Unfortunately for us the islands were quite out of the way and the boat ran out of petrol before we could reach the mainland. So we had to sit floating for half an hour while another boat came from the mainland to rescue us with some bottles of petrol! The same day we travelled up the west coast of Vitu Levu to Lautoka a large town to stay over night to catch our next transfer out to Waya Island in the Yasawa Island group the following morning. To get to Lautoka we had to catch the local bus from Nadi the main town on this side of the island. This was probably one of the most memorable experiences from Fiji as it was the bus that the locals caught and on the journey you got to see a lot of the local villages along the way and a lot of the scenery of the mainland. The bus had state of the art air conditioning - no windows- and we struggled on with our bags as the aisle was very narrow, but we managed and I was really glad we took this option rather than a tourist shuttle bus. We arrived in Lautoka in the evening and had to make our way to the hotel which luckily in the heat wasn't very far away. Our hotel was deserted and we had a whole 6 bed dorm room to ourselves which was great. The hotel was massive with a swimming pool and 2 bars but we only saw 1 other person while we were there. Because of the coup apparently lots of the mainland hotels and islands off the east coast are struggling because no one is going on holiday there this year.
In the morning we were collected from the hotel by minivan which looked like a 1970s pimpmobile with blacked out windows and garish floral seating! We went down to the Yacht Club at First Landing and caught another motor boat out to Waya Island. The resort we stayed at on Waya Island was our luxury stop in Fiji and it did not disappoint. The Octopus Resort was amazing, we had a lovely bungalow and great food. All the island resorts are food inclusive, on Mana you ate what was put in front of you, but on Waya we actually had some choice and the food was really nice. The evening we arrived we had our Kava ceremony to welcome us to the island. This consists of drinking a lot of Kava (looks like mud water) and a lot of clapping hands and singing. The Kava is a narcotic so you tongue goes numb after a couple of bowls. Luckily the girls didn't get very big bowls in each round, but Marc was nominated as speaker and so had massive bowls full!! Later that evening was another island night with singing and dancing which was also good but not as intimate as the one on Mana Island.
Our first full day on Waya we went on a snorkel trip over to Naviti Island to snorkel with the Manta Rays (which proved very illusive and we didn't see any). But the fish were great and so was the water clarity so the snorkelling was amazing anyway. We had a BBQ lunch on Mafia Island and a tour of the island. Italians started to build a casino on the island but had to stop when the government found out as gambling is illegal here. The company just left the buildings half built and they remain in the same state today. We went inside the shell of the building and saw some enormous spiders!! Urgh!! Lukcily there were't any in our rooms though. In the afternoon we went and did some more snorkelling before heading back to the island for dinner. After dinner the resort held some party games on the beach which we joined in for and afterwards had a chat to some other travellers, until late into the night.
Our second day on Waya we had a lazy day and just sat by the pool and did some snorkelling off the beach which is also really good. In the evening the Nalauwaki village choir came and sang for us before dinner. After dinner we all setteld down to watch Spiderman 3 (again!) on a big screen by the pool, however half way through we had a terrential downpour and everybody fled back to their rooms.
On our final day we were sposed to leave in the morning by motorboat, but the resort boat had hit coral the day before and was broken so we had to wait until 4pm to leave by the Yasawa Flyer, the catamaran which ferries travellers to and from all the Yasawa Islands. So we caugh the catarmaran back to the mainland and then managed to catch a tourist shuttle bus down to the Coral Coast to the Fiji Beach House where we've spent our last 4 nights.
The Beach House is where they filmed Love Island 2 so I knew that it should be nice as its only just been reopened. It is nice but a lot smaller than it looked on telly. We're staying in a garden bungalow and there's a really nice pool area, but the beach isn't amazing compared to the ones on the islands. The first day we were here it rained all day so we spent our time reading and generally lazing about in the common room area. We both made some coconut jewelry as one of the staff was showing people how to do it. We both filed down a shape and made it into a necklace for me.
Our second day and the weather was much brighter, which was good beacuse we had signed up for a jungle trek up to the Biasevu waterfall. Juta a local guide from the closest village took us, and 2 other guys from our hostel, down through Navala Village and up through the jungle to the waterfall. Along the way he told us local customs and all about the the local food and the plants from the jungle. It took about an hour or so to reach the waterfall and we got to climb right up it while Juta took photos of us. It was a really good trip and he was a great guide. He gave me a Vine seed to make into a necklace when we got back to the hostel. So I got one of the staff members who did the jewelry making to tie some string through a drilled hole to make the necklace.
Today we just had a realxing day in the hammocks and went sea kayaking out over the reef. Tomorrow we leave the Coral Coast and head back to Nadi for our final night before flying onto Rarotonga in the Cook Islands on Saturday.