We arrived in the capital, Nadi, to sweltering heat and enjoyed a nice meal on the beach while the sun set. Everyone we had spoken to said to get off the mainland and go and visit some of the smaller islands. So the next day we jumped on the Yasawa Flyer (a catamaran which journeys between the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, north-west of Vitu Levu) to Waya, our first stop.
As we pulled into a beautiful white sand beach, we realised that all of our Fiji wishes had come true. We were welcomed ashore with a typical welcome song (which we soon knew very well) and handed a fruit cocktail whilst being dressed with a flower garland. To top it all off the beach was amazing with turquoise water, white sand and palm trees swinging in the wind.
The resort was similarly amazing with an open sand floor restaurant/bar, pool, bure style accomodation which are typical thatched cottages (although we could only afford a dorm bed), all right on the beach. And it was the only resort on the whole beach. Amazing.
Days were happily spent snorkeling amongst the colourful marine life, playing volleyball (Jack only), reading, sunbathing, eating delicious food and occasionally joining in with the activities such as village visits.
From Waya we headed about an hour north to Naviti and Botaira Resort where we soon settled into our beachfront bure. It was set amongst a lovely garden with the sea only metres away.
As this resort was Fijian owned, the activities were a bit different so we tried spear-throwing, drunk too much kava in a traditional welcome ceremony (basically muddy water which you had to down by the bowlful) and had a tour round the garden where they grow the food for the resort. We also trekked to the highest peak of the island where there was an amazing view over some of the other islands in the chain and walked to the local village to attend a very vibrant church service.
Next up was the Blue Lagoon resort and beach. It was set on an absolutely stunning beach with aquamarine water which was deep enough to swim in even at low tide, yet you could still go snorkeling very close to the shore.
One day Jack organised a surprise picnic on our own private island. We were dropped off with a food, wine and a phone (so we could arrange our pick-up). It was really unique to have a whole island to ourselves.
We took part in International Crab Racing, where you chose a crab and your room number was Tippexed onto it. The first crab to reach the outer circle won the ‘trainer’ FJ$30 (10 GBP) to spend at the bar. And we won! Luckily we had been tipped off to choose the smallest crab by a previous winner.
The next night was movie night where we watched Red (only days after its release in Australia) projected onto a screen on the beach under the stars, all laying out on a massive mattress.
A particular highlight for Jack was the coconut lesson, where he learned all about the many different uses for the fruit (coconut water, milk and (palm) oil), the tree (firewood, muslin), it’s leaves (roof insulation, baskets, decoration). This culminated in the assembling of the lovo, an underground earth oven. A big hole was dug in the sand which was then filled with firewood and ignited. On top of the fire were placed large stones which turned red hot. Next foiled parcels of meat, fish and various types of potato were wrapped in coconut leaves and put on top. The highlight was delicious slow roast pork complete with crackling and apple sauce (something I never expected to eat in Fiji). We also ate deep fried coconut with sweet chilli sauce as a snack. Yum.
After five days at Blue Lagoon we traveled four hours south-east, back towards the mainland, to Bounty Island. This was by far the smallest island we visited and we walked around it in only 20 mins! But our real reason for visiting was that the classic ITV1 reality TV show Celebrity Love Island was filmed there. Our guidebook said that you could visit the crumbling set, but after much exploring of the island interior all he could find were some wooden polls and a broken door!
All in all an amazing two weeks which lived up to its reputation.