We made it to Fiji after a relaxed drive up to Auckland in a hire car. We found that the plane was delayed nearly 3 hours so it was nearly midnight before we landed and ended up in the right hotel, even though they hadn't heard of us. We made it into our beds at about 12.30am and then had to get up and have breakfast and be ready to be picked up at 7.15 the next morning. It was a bit of a rush to say the least and Stuart fell up the stairs 3 times out of the 4 he went up! We were then taken to the harbour (Port Denerau) and found that the people there hadn't heard about us either but we still managed to get on the right catamaran taking us to the right island, which is called Bounty Island. We had also pre-booked a scuba dive and they said that we wouldn't be able to do that either as they don't have a dive shop on the island, but that they would try and sort something out.
When we got level with our island we were the only ones to get off into a little boat bobbing around on the Pacific. That took us to the shore, where we were greeted by 2 Fijian guys singing us a 'Bula' song of welcome, accompanied by a guitar and a ukelele! Amazingly, they had heard about us coming and we were shown to our beachfront bure after a walk around the island. It is as near paradise as the brochures would have us believe. The door of our bure was about 10 yards from the ocean, and had a hammock between two palm trees in our 'front garden'! We went down for a swim and found that after about 2 seconds the water felt really nice and warm - unlike at Tynemouth! We then had a go at kayaking which wasn't utterly successful as Dad couldn't stay sitting up and Naomi couldn't be bothered to paddle! But it wasn't really life threatening as watersports go.
After a BBQ lunch, we got ready for our scuba dive. We went down to the surf shop and were kitted out with wetsuits (which were EXTREMELY tight), air tanks, buoyancy jackets, weight belts, air regulators, masks, flippers and goodness knows what else - but it was bloomin' heavy! We then had about 2 minutes tuition with our guide (we were the only ones doing it) and waded out into the sea. After a further 2 minutes tuition, we did a test swim which we both survived and then set off out where the corals were. Within a few minutes we saw a massive grey reef shark, about 2 metres away from where we were - it was about 4 to 5 foot long and the guide said it was one of the biggest reef sharks he had ever seen! We also saw starfish, crayfish, sea cucumbers (no, thats not a joke) and lots and lots of other small fish which were beautiful and very colourful! Then Dad's air regulator (mouthpiece) filled up with water and he couldn't get rid of it because he didn't listen to the tuition properly, but he didn't quite drown - only very nearly. After this little excitement we continued the dive which was exhilarating but Dad found it very tiring and his equipment wasn't behaving itself so the guide had to keep dragging him to the surface - after a while i just stayed down while all this happened! Dad swallowed so much water that the Seychelles are now safe for another 2 years at least.
We had a nice dinner and bought some 'Nanura-ya' non-alcoholic cocktails. The name means 'remember me' in Fijian and they were really nice! We slept well that night and woke up the next morning to the sound of the waves slapping against the beach, and the sight of a big gecko just outside our shower!
We then, after breakfast, were picked up by the catamaran and taken to another island (Mana Island) where we connected with our schooner which was our boat for the day. We sailed out on board the 'Seaspray' to the outer Mamanuca Islands, the first of which we stopped at was called Yanuya Island. We got off the boat and took part in a traditional kava ceremony, which involved 2 nominated members of our 'tribe' drinking some dodgy looking liquid (we have had quite enough of those throughout this trip!). We then went to the uninhabited Modriki Island which is where the film 'Castaway' with Tom Hanks was filmed. We were taken ashore to enjoy snorkelling. Some people jumped straight off the boat but since Dad had never done it before we decided to start from the beach. Snorkelling was revealed as an extremely dangerous watersport because every time we tried to sort out the snorkel or get our flippers on, we were hurled by the riptide into the water where there were rocks being thrown around such was the vehemence of the tide! We went further up onto the beach because it was so unsuccessful before. Dad just about managed to sit still by digging his feet in but i had no chance and was being thrown in and out and round and round by the waves - whilst i was trying to fix Dad's snorkel! We then abandoned the flippers all together after suffering various lacerations to our knees and legs on the rocks and just stuck with our snorkel and mask. Dad lasted about 3 minutes before declaring it 'one of the most unpleasant things i have ever done in my life' - so i guessed he wasn't enjoying it... He sat on the beach while i went back in and further out to sea. I was having a great time looking at all the fish until something caught my eye. There was a massive long fish thing swimming underneath me - it was about 1.5m long and very thin, with a huge eyeball at one end and a massive spike at the other! It gave me a funny look and freaked me out so i hurrieclly swam back to shore. I was nearly out when a massive wave dragged me back in over the rocks and i bumped my already-bruised-scuba-diving-on-coral-knee again! So we declared that we would no longer involve ourselves with watersports of any kind (although I loved the scuba diving and the snorkelling - just not the manky fish). Seaspray then took us back to Mana Island and we caught the catamaran again to take us back to Port Denerau. On the way back, Seaspray lived up to its name as we got soaked time and time again - good job we kept our swimming costumes on - and the sun warmed us, it was great!
Back in Denerau, we decided have a look round the shops before picking our bags up as 3 big catamarans had landed together and there was a big queue. However, we got a bit distracted with shopping and watching some Fijian dancers, so by the time we went back to get our bags the place was deserted and we had missed all the airport shuttles. Our bags were nowhere to be seen. We did eventually find them, and had to get a taxi to the airport.
Fiji was a lot of fun - but we are slightly battered and bruised now!
Lots of love,
Naomi (and Stuart) x