Honeymoon Part 2 – Fiji!

So it was time to leave Dubai and head on for our very long journey to Fiji.  We arrived at Dubai airport and caught the 9:15am QF2 plane to Sydney.  The plane we got this time was a Qantas plane and we were a little disappointed it wasn’t as fab as the Emirates plane on the way out.  Nevertheless we settled down and tried to make the most of the 14 hour flight ahead of us.  The in flight entertainment wasn’t a patch on Emirates and neither was the food but we got comfortable had a nap, watched some naff movies arrived very tired and grumpy in Sydney on time at 5am.  After a short time in the airport we then got the 6.30am flight to Nadi, Fiji.

This flight takes about 4 hours and as it was getting light this was quite exciting! Fiji Airways was more like an upmarket Easyjet or Ryanair with free drinks (although there was food it was just a sandwich).  We felt it rude not to try the local beer and sit back and enjoy our flight!

We arrived in Fiji at approximately 1pm and were delighted to be greeted by some men singing and playing guitars in arrivals.  This is apparently a typical fijian welcome.  What we had become aware of was that the accommodation I had accidentally confirmed was quite some distance away on the Coral Coast.  After a bit of a drama of collecting cases and losing the camera (left in overhead locker and returned by a kind male steward) we headed outside for some fresh air to look for a taxi.  This was no problem whatsoever as it is a tiny airport and there were taxis waiting outside and we easily found one who was willing to take us to our accommodation.

It was a pleasant ride taking in the lovely scenery but wasn’t cheap at 110 fijian dollars (£42) but for the distance which was about 87 kilometres and compared to the resorts rate of 130 each way this was quite reasonable.  The taxi driver was very friendly and offered to stop for beer on the way due to the costs in the resorts which we did!  It did rain a bit on  the way but nothing that lasted.  I think we were most struck by exactly how green Fiji was.

We arrived at Tambua Sands, at approximately 3pm and I have to admit I was a little nervous about this reservation due to the lack of communication I had managed to have with the resort.  For example when looking at the island hopping I tried to ask if we could change our accommodation dates and also if we could get the promotional rate offered online since we booked but we received nothing in return.  We were however greeted warmly and our reservation was confirmed (the taxi driver told us not to worry they don’t communicate with anyone but we would be fine).  We checked in and were shown to out beachfront bure which was lovely.

The bure itself was pretty big with twin beds and a double as well as a kettle, tea and coffee making facilities and fridge.  We had a fan which was very welcome and a little patio area.  I had read that some bures were quite some distance down the beach and therefore in my initial request I had asked for one near the resort due to my knee issues. Despite their lack of communication they had taken this on board and given us bure number 1 which was the closest to the resort.  Our cases were also taken to the accommodation for us which was a bonus.  After unpacking  it was getting dark but we explored the resort more and had a chuckle at some of the signs.

We decided to check out the food and cocktails at the bar.  The food menu itself was fine there was enough choice for us and we ordered a chicken dish and some cocktails.  We were pretty shocked by the prices at this resort with cocktails being 22 fijian dollars+ (approx £8.50) and but the meals were quite reasonable at 25+ dollars.  We were very impressed by our dinner and the cocktails were indeed very tasty!  This resort has a no cash policy so everything is put on a tab to be settled upon departure; something to be aware of if you are on a budget as it is easy to overspend!

After such a long day we headed off back to our bure admiring the copious frogs jumping around by the pool and the lizards.  We headed off for an early night excited to get the full glory of the location the next day!.

With our body clocks being completely out of synch due to the different time zones we had been through in the last few days we woke up really early the next morning and decided to watch the sun rise from the beach.  We were in awe of how amazing this place was!

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The hotel had a free inclusive buffet breakfast so we headed off to have that.  It was plentiful and certainly was fine for us.  The buffet which was toast, yoghurt, fruit, juice, pastrys/buns and tea and coffee was all included in the price but it was extra if you wanted cooked options.  We were fine with the buffet although had our first taste of vegemite – it is not marmite and does not compare! Marmite is something we always take on holiday but I had left it in the bure on this occasion …note to self remember it in future!

After breakfast we had a short rest before deciding to head out to the sea with our snorkels.  You could borrow snorkels here but we had brought our own…the new full face style which make us look like something out of the Predator! We tried them in Thailand but were disappointed they seemed to leak round the mouthpiece; however we decided to give them a go again to see if we did something wrong! alas the same thing happened and therefore we decided to give up and use the ones from the resort and also try our hand at kayaking!  We donated our snorkels to the resort to see if anyone else had more luck – there was a possibility we ordered the wrong size so good luck to anyone with a bigger head than us.

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The beach was amazing and no pictures do it justice.  The snorkelling itself was ok but not spectacular although we were informed the islands would provide a better experience.  You do need water shoes here however which we brought with us (£5 each off amazon!). After having a go at the kayaking which I loved (years on crutches certainly helped me here) we headed back to our bure to get changed and to see where we could head out to.

Some initial enquiries at reception pointed us in the direction of Vatukarasa Village which was a short drive from the resort.  We were fortunate enough that another family were heading there so we shared a taxi down with them.  We visited the Baravi Handicrafts store which had some reasonable souvenirs and also Bula Shirts.  Nigel bought a couple of these and we also got some souvenirs, had a drink and a Lamington before deciding to head back to the resort…it was hotter than we realised and we stopped for fresh coconut water and a chat with the very friendly locals!  The coconuts were picked off the tree and sliced open in front of us! we spent some time chatting to the friendly locals who appeared happy for us to stay there all day with them.   Here was our first experience of ‘Fiji time’ and the ‘no hurry no worry’ motto adopted by the natives.

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That evening the resort was holding a Fijian Night and we had booked ourselves in to experience the traditional food, drink and fijian entertainment.  It was a busy affair and the food was served in buffet style.  Of course cocktails were in order here as well.  We enjoyed the live music, dancing and took part in a traditional Kava Ceremony.

Kava is a drink made from the powdered root of the pepper plant and has a mild anaesthetic and sedative effect.  It is mixed with water and served in big bowl and decanted into smaller wooden bowls as part of a Kava Ceremony.  The ceremonies themselves are deep rooted in Fijian tradition for over 3000 and occur in both religious occasions and well as social gatherings such as welcoming new guests.  Kava is the traditional drink of Fiji and is thought to have strong medicinal powers.

Everyone sits in a circle and there is an appointed Chief who is generally the eldest of the group.  Females have to dress modestly and cover up arms and legs.  The Chief strains the root through a cloth bag into the water and a bowl is served to each participant. Everyone then takes it in turns to drink the Kava.  When it is your turn you clap with a cupped hand and shout ‘bula’ the drink is then downed in one and everyone claps 3 times and shouts ‘mathe’.

The taste of Kava is a bit like muddy water and I admit I struggled to down it in one.  I also got extremely tired although that could have also been the jetlag.  I therefore declined any further bowls but Nigel continued with everyone else until the bowl was empty.  It is certainly an experience and one which I was glad we tried but one I was not keen to repeat.  It was a very pleasant evening all in all which we both enjoyed; however we headed to bed as we would be leaving early in the morning to get to the marina.

We left Tambua Sands at 6.30am as we had to get to Denerau Marina to catch the 8.30 Yasawa Flyer catamaran for our first island stop.  We had booked the same taxi driver who brought us from the airport for 90 dollars and he was waiting on time for us.  We arrived at the marina at plenty of time at 8.10 and checked in.  There was a hairy moment when we were told they had to call up the resort to check our reservations (we had heard such mixed reviews I wasn’t convinced our booking would go as planned). However all was confirmed and we awaited the departure.   Unfortunately we had a 2 hour delay on our departure but this gave us a chance to look around the Marina.

Finally at 10.30 we set off on the Yasawa Flyer for our 3 hour trip.  The boat itself was ok, im not a great sailor and felt pretty yeuk towards the end but they had an air conditioned section which was well appreciated.  It boasts free wifi but we weren’t able to access this and there were snacks and drinks on board for sale.  What we were quite impressed with was that we handed our luggage over at the marina and it was loaded up for us and tagged up depending on the resort.  This was all managed by the staff and all we had to do was confirm our baggage when we were nearing the stop.  We were finally called to our stop and smaller tiller boats approached one loaded up with luggage and one for passengers.  I’ll be honest its not the easiest trying to step into the smaller boat from the catamaran and I was grateful to the rather burly Fijian staff who helped.  Nevertheless off we went in the boat towards our first island stop – Mantaray.

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Upon arrival we were greeted by a welcome song very similar to that played to us on our arrival at the airport and also given a welcome drink.  We were informed of the basics of the resort such as meal times, compulsory meal payments, wifi and activities available. It all seemed quite businesslike and were slightly miffed at the hidden extras.  They were also quite insistent we went immediately to pay for the meal package.  Our bags where then taken to our Bures and we were shown reception to pay.  We were also informed we could go and get a late lunch due to the boat delay.

Our accommodation here was a treehouse which had a double bed and a small outside deck area.  The toilet block was just down the path from our bure which was handy however be warned these are eco toilets eg they look like a toilet but don’t flush and its just a massive hole!  After paying the meal package price of 348 dollars (£133) we headed off to find the restaurant.  Unfortunately what we didn’t realise was that the restaurant was quite some distance up steep stairs and something which I found really difficult; however we were informed that all meals could be served in rooms if required.  The menu choices were really good and had fish, meat, vegetarian and salads.  There was also a bar there. We were impressed by the choice and the quality of the food offered.

We headed to the beach to check out the snorkelling, hiring snorkels for an additional 20 dollars for our stay.   At the front of the resort was a cordoned off area for snorkelling and swimming and we were informed this was an amazing spot for snorkelling due to the coral reef.  As soon as we stepped in the water and started swimming it was like being in a giant aquarium!

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This was by far the best snorkelling we had ever had and in the water just a few metres from the beach! There was quite a strong current here and it was quite shallow in places which made it quite dangerous for coral cuts; never the less we did have an amazing snorkel but it was starting to get dark so we headed back to get changed and grabbed a beer to watch sunset.

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After having some dinner we checked out the bar area in the evening but were quite tired so headed off to bed early for some well earned zzzzz’s.

The next day we got up and had some breakfast and then decided to check out the activities board at the resort.

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Nigel had seen the resort offered introductory scuba diving courses which included two dives; one in the waters at the front of the resort and one further out to sea.  This wasn’t cheap at 330 dollars (approx £125) but there was a chance he could see sharks, turtles and possibly mantarays.  Due to ear problems I wasn’t able to do this so I relaxed on  the beach whilst he went off for his diving experience.

Nigel came back a few hours later very excited by his scuba diving trip as he had swum with a shark and also two turtles! I wasn’t too jealous! We grabbed some lunch and spent the afternoon chilling and snorkelling and making the most of the copious hammocks around the area.

Again we had a really chilled out evening watching the sunset, having dinner and then grabbing an early night.  Tomorrow we would be moving on to our next island and we were hoping it would be just as fabulous as Mantaray Resort had been.  Staff are on the lookout for mantarays and if they are spotted a bell is rung but we were unfortunately slightly out of season so we hadn’t got to see them.

The next day after breakfast we packed up our stuff and prepared to leave the island. Our tiller boat departed at 12.15 and we met with the Yasawa flyer at 12.30.  Prior to leaving the staff got together and played us a goodbye song which was very nice.  It was time now however to move on to White Sandy Beach.

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We only had one night at White Sandy and were warned it was only a 1 coconut resort but due to the fact it stated the resort boasted great snorkelling we decided to pick here for our one night stop.  It was only 35 minutes on the flyer before we were heading towards our next island.

Our accommodation at White Sandy Beach was more like the accommodation at Tambua Sands but more basic and not as well maintained.  The bure itself was on the beach which was lovely but the shower was outdoor and bunged up with leaves.  The toilet and a sink however were inside.

We headed down to the beach which was lovely but we were disappointed to discover the tide was out and there was no chance to get a snorkel in.  I was informed at the bar that the best time would be around 5pm just before the sun went down so we decided to chill out on the hammocks until that time.

We were very disappointed to discover that even at the recommended time there was no chance of snorkelling; the tide was not in and despite trying to walk further out the water was still only knee high.  We headed back to shore grabbed a beer and watched the sunset.

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We returned to our accommodation to discover we had no electric or water and it appeared we weren’t the only ones.  Our neighbours had the same problem and we called for maintenance which consisted of a man going up the mountain to somehow get our water supply and electric going.  Eventually we managed to get a dribble out of the shower but there was no light so I had to try and shower by Nigel’s phone torch – not a recommended experience!.

That evening we went to the communal dining room for dinner and the food was an experience.  There was no choice of menu however this was not a resort with a compulsory meal plan but the food was included in the price of the accommodation.  We were served a plate of rice, vegetables and bony chicken in some limited amount of sauce.  Unfortunately this was not too palatable despite trying to wash it down with a beer! The pudding looked promising but again was a dry chocolate cake which also needed some chewing to get it down.  Quite disappointed and pretty darn hungry we were encouraged to join in the evening entertainment which was learning the Fiji dance and playing musical statues to techno music! this was not really our thing and this resort appeared to be more aimed at young backpackers rather than people our age.  We headed off to bed hungry and hoping tomorrow morning would be more successful.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast which was not much of an improvement on dinner with pancakes and some fried things however it was better than nothing and we managed to at least stave away our hunger.  After speaking in the bar we were told that for snorkelling we should head down the beach and walk out to sea on the concrete path.

Off we went and started walking out to sea when we noticed some brown and cream fish circling us.  We had seen them before and they hadn’t bothered us but this was a little strange, however we carried on out when all of a sudden I felt them hitting my legs and then one bit my knee! I panicked somewhat at this point and was shouting to Nigel I was being bitten by piranhas! I managed to get out of the sea swotting the fish with my mask and snorkel and retreated to the sand!  Once out of the water I could see the funny side however I was bleeding a bit and had a nice bite mark on my knee! I asked the staff about it but they  informed me no fish bite there! hmm

Despite the fish bite I did manage to get back in the water again; the fish that bit were only in the shallow water so we tried a different part of the beach and managed to get back out.  We had a short snorkel and then returned to our bure to pack ready for our departure.  All in all despite the idyllic location White Sandy Beach was a disappointing experience and we were glad we only booked one night.   There was no wifi, the food was pretty darn awful, the beach was obviously beyond the control of anyone but the accommodation really could have done with some tlc.

We headed off to our next resort on the flyer at 12 noon.  The boat trip this time took an hour and a half and we were excited on our approach due to the gorgeous turquoise waters of Oarsman’s Bay Lodge!

We were greeted again with an arrival song and noticed a larger resort just down from ours; however after our welcome drink we were taken to our bure which was the best yet! it had aircon and a fan and was really clean and well equipped.  We were really impressed despite the huge beetle that had taken residence outside our window.

We were asked if we wanted lunch due to our arrival time and were served chicken curry which was actually quite nice but we were informed that despite the compulsory meal charge here of $96 dollars each per day we would be charged extra for this meal.

We headed down to the beach and had a bit of a paddle and a snorkel – again snorkels had to be hired and this was for 15 dollars each for the duration of our stay.  The snorkelling wasn’t so good here mainly because of the sandy beach and lack of rocks but we looked at excursions to the location of where the film the Blue Lagoon was filmed and booked that for next day for $25 each.    The resort itself offered camping, plenty of bures, a dormitory, a bar and massage facilities.  We also booked in a massage each for the next day for $30 each.  We chilled out for a bit and then watched the sunset with a beer before dinner.

The dinner was ok ..,.they asked for dietary requirements and would make an effort to provide you with a dish that you would eat.  The food was certainly not as bad as the day before but it was still pretty bland.  The chicken had bones in it and it seemed to be curry again which was served up from lunch.  We tried to get some drinks from the bar and managed to get beer but anything else was out of stock, including coke or diet coke.  They had an extensive cocktail menu and attempted to try and make stuff without having most of the ingredients but alas this was not too successful.  We were however with a nice group of people; a young couple from New Zealand and a group of girls and we sat and chatted until it was time for bed.

The next day we got up for breakfast and this was pancakes again with deep fried something or other which we weren’t quite sure of.  There were cereals but a distinct lack of toast which would have been nice.  The breakfast was also a little disappointing and considering the amount we were paying for the food we expected better.   After breakfast we checked out the resort next door which was a much better equipped resort than ours; we ordered coffee at the bar and a coke in the hope we may be able to get some wifi but this didn’t happen.

After a relatively lazy morning we had lunch which was again something rice based and curry like and then prepared for our afternoon trip to the Blue Lagoon.  The trip was to include a visit to a shop with ice cream  which we were very excited about and also to see a big ‘brain’ in the middle of the sea we could snorkel round.  We set off for the trip fully kitted up for our snorkelling adventure and it was a really great spot, although very busy with other tourist boats.  The snorkelling was very good here.

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We headed back in our boat after an hour or so and were quiet disappointed they didn’t bother to stop at all at the shop or the ‘brain’ as promised.  My dreams of chocolate were fading into oblivion!  We spent Easter in Fiji and so had not had any chocolate at all as per the normal Easter tradition.  One kind guest took pity on us and gave us a square of chocolate each which was absolute bliss!

Late afternoon we had our massages in front of the bures under a canopy.  It was very relaxing all be it a little public and people did keep coming up and speaking to the lady who was doing mine which was quite distracting.  fiji82It was however a relaxing experience and we were requested to pay in cash which wasn’t a problem. We got showered ready for dinner.  Alas it was a similar story to the night before; the same kind of food with not much variety although we did have a guest at the dinner table! The bar had also not been restocked so it was beer or water for us again; never the less we did have some Fijian music to eat our dinner by this evening which was very pleasant and there was some evening entertainment organised after dinner.  This happened to be a Kava ceremony which I kindly declined and we headed off to bed.

The next morning we woke up early and everyone else had gone on an early morning walk but unfortunately hiking up a mountain was not possible for me; we did however check out a short trail next door.

We got back and headed for breakfast.   This was however quite delayed due to a very serious staff meeting going on.  It appeared someone was talking and everyone else was listening intently with no feedback given.  It was getting quite awkward by this point so we started to help ourselves to the coffee and eventually the meeting finished and we got our pancakes and fried things.  We had a few hours to kill before the Flyer was due for our departure and managed to squeeze in a short trip to the local village.  The lodge was run by local villagers rather than as part of a chain or an outsourced business and therefore the staff took us to show us around.  The trip cost $20 by boat and we were able to get a great insight into daily village life for the Fijian people including a visit to the local school where the children sang songs for us.

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We returned back to Oarsman’s Bay and packed up ready for our departure from the resort at 1.30pm.  The staff seemed genuinely sorry to say goodbye hugged and sang to us as we left.  Our next stop was Wayalailai Ecohaven which was 2 hours and 46 minutes away.  As we approached it was very windy and the sea was very rough.  When our Tiller boat  came out we were informed we couldn’t land on the beach but instead would have to land at the local village because it was safer.  It was not a pleasant journey to the island or getting out of the boat but we made it as did our luggage and we had a welcome drink upon arrival.

In contrast to the other islands we had been to Wayalailai is on a hillside surrounded by rock formations.  It is unique for sure and an interesting place with one of the highlights being a walk to the top to the hill for amazing views.

We were shown our accommodation and were initially quite pleased with it.  We had a cute little bure at the end of a row with a thatched roof and inside was all wooden.  It had a lovely little outside seating area and besides the door being a bit stiff all was good.

What became apparent quite quickly however was that the thatched roof was not a good thing to have….bugs were falling down from the roof onto the bed and all round the room and it was quite clear that suitcases would have to stay shut and we would have to hide under the mosquito net to get some sleep!

We headed for dinner which was a buffet style affair and not wonderful but edible.  What we hadn’t realised prior to this was that Wayalailai was actually a 1 coconut resort so there was no extra charge for the food.  We thought all resorts we booked were 2 coconut so the bank balance was relieved.  We did however have to pay a lot to connect to wifi here and it was only available per hour.  There was a nice decking area and a bar and communal restaurant which was pleasant as well for mingling with other travellers. The main purpose of our trip to Wayalailai was to swim with sharks, something Nigel has been keen to do since way before this trip.  We did book for the next morning at $45 each however given how rough the sea was we didn’t think there was much chance of it going ahead.  We headed to bed after watching some cheesy entertainment very similar to White Sandy beach.

Following the worst night sleep ever being bombarded by bugs all night we didn’t like our chances of the swimming with sharks going ahead; the sea was so rough it really didn’t look safe.. we headed for breakfast which again was a buffet affair and edible.  It consisted of scones, fruit and cereals but you had to get in quick or there was nothing left! we headed back to our bure only to be hurried along because the shark trip was going ahead which was a surprise to us.  We got kitted up at the dive shop on the beach and headed out in the roughest seas ever.  We were asked to bring towels but they were soaked before we got off the beach and after a pretty harrowing journey we finally made it to the dive spot and were told to hop out the boat with our snorkels and head to the spot.

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It was a really unique and quite scary experience! we were advised to float on the surface and we watched them being fed; however after some time they got nearer and nearer to the surface and we were advised to make our way back to the boat. Snorkelling in such rough seas was not easy because snorkels kept filling up with water but it really was great fun.  We headed back again in the boat to the resort and chilled out for the rest of the day on the hammocks on  the beach and checking out the wildlife.

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The evening was spent having dinner and socialising somewhat before returning back to our bure to try and sleep again.  After we went back two ladies from next door asked if they could ‘borrow my man’ to get rid of a giant moth in their bure.  Upon closer inspection it wasn’t a giant moth but a giant beetle which had decided to take root on  their toilet roll.  Nigel bravely went in and removed the toilet roll and dumped it in the bin beetle still attached.  It was pretty beasty and unfortunately we didn’t get a picture but from research since it appears to have been a Fijian Giant Long Horn beetle eek!

After all the excitement died down we tried to sleep but again it was horrific with insects landing on us all night and crawling in the bed.  We got up early for sunrise which was pretty spectacular and the wind had all but died down at this point.

It was time to prepare to leave Wayalailai and although it had the worst accommodation ever and not recommended because of the bugs it had its own positives such as the shark experience which was only really available there and the nearby resort of Naquila which was unfortunately fully booked.  It was certainly an improvement on the previous one coconut accommodation we had been at but even so I was longing for a good night’s sleep! We had some lunch which was chicken and some sort of bolognese and then caught the Yasawa flyer to our last island stop Bounty Island.  The flyer departed at 3.45 and we arrived at Bounty Island at 5.10pm.

Bounty Island was only 30 minutes from the mainland and part of the Mamanuca group.  We were pretty wowed by it as we arrived and had a welcome drink and a song upon arrival.  We were shown to our accommodation and given a chance to settle in.  The accommodation itself was very basic; a room with a double bed and a fridge and a semi outdoors bathroom.  It was technically outdoors but was covered in a mesh to keep the bugs out.  So far so good…no thatched roof here so no bugs falling on us in the night!

After settling in we went out to explore the resort and the dinner options and were really impressed by quite how beautiful it was here.  What we also noticed was that it was not full of backpackers but people of all ages here.  There were two bars and the restaurant was in a building on the beach.  There was also a pool which we decided to dip in as the sun was setting.

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We had some dinner which was a vast improvement on anything we had had since Mantaray Resort (chicken pasta in a creamy sauce and a rather tasty pudding), had a few cocktails, a game of pingpong and relaxed in the bar for a while before heading back to our accommodation for the night.  All good so far we were definitely impressed by the facilities but unfortunately missed the sunrise which we were told was better the other side of the island.

The next morning we got up for breakfast and decided to try the snorkelling round the island.  The island is pretty small and you can walk round in it 30 minutes but we understood there was some good snorkelling just off shore so we borrowed some snorkels here (they were free here) and head off round the island.  It was quite rocky in places and too shallow to swim but we certainly gave it a go.  We noticed as we were getting back round near to the resort there was a group of guided snorkellers here and so tagged along to have a look.  It was pretty cool, not the best we had seen but certainly not disappointing! we headed back  to shore grabbed some lunch and chilled out in the afternoon until sunset.  We decided to make the trek to the other side of the island which wasn’t far at all and just made it in time.

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It was really quite lovely and it was only us and one other girl there who kindly took our photograph.  We headed back taking in the Lovo oven and the turtle sanctuary on the way.

That evening we headed for dinner which was as enjoyable as the night before and then took part in the evening entertainment which was bowling with coconuts.  It was quite fun but very much luck of the draw.  We played some ping pong and pool, had a couple of drinks and headed back to our bure.

The next morning we had breakfast and then went to check out.  We were quite apprehensive that the flyer wasn’t due until 5.10 and we had to leave our accommodation by 11.  We were informed however that we could get on a different boat back to the mainland at 12.30 which was run by South Sea Cruises and was covered by our ticket. We went ahead with this and left for the mainland settling up our bill which was quite a shock (drinks weren’t too cheap here plus $89 per person per night for food).

The boat was slightly different than the flyer and we saw a lot of the Mamanuca islands on the way back including Beachcomber, the famous party island and Castaway Island where the famous film with Tom Hanks was filmed.

We arrived back in Denerau Marina at 3pm and had booked online a hotel on the mainline not far from the airport called Smugglers Cove Beach Resort.  This was £68 and so not cheap but it was basic and not far from the marina or the airport.   We got a taxi there which was pretty reasonable at $20 and checked in.  We went to get a coffee in the bar but also wanted to check out Nadi town before everything shut.  We were informed there was a bus that went from outside the hotel for $1 so we skipped the coffee and headed out.  We ended up getting a taxi instead for $15 which dropped us in the town. Nigel had decided he wanted a haircut so we headed for a barbers for the Fijian experience.

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After a quick haircut, a look round the shops and a Kava ceremony (i declined again!) we got the bus back to our accommodation.  This was quite a straight forward process and was only $1 each so definitely a budget way of travelling.

We had some dinner in the hotel and made our way to bed as we had an early start in the morning heading to the airport for the final part of our adventure – Sydney!   We got up early, checked out and grabbed a taxi for our 9am flight from Nadi to Sydney.  We had a bit of a hairy moment at check in when I was informed I didnt have a visa for Australia despite filling in the appropriate paperwork.  It appeared I had completed my passport number wrong on the form but thankfully this was easily remedied with a call to Sydney and my visa was amended …Phew… It was finally time to leave this lovely place for pastures new!

In summary Fiji is an amazing place with amazing people and we had a lovely time here. Our arrival on the mainland and our time at Tambua Sands was a brilliant start to our adventures.  What became clear was that there is no reliance on tourism here but the people are very chilled out due to the fact they can live off the land and do not have to rely on income to survive.  We found everyone friendly on the mainland and were welcome wherever we went.  It was safe and there were no concerns about crime, although I am sure crime does happen we never felt threatened at any time.

The islands themselves were also an amazing experience and each other mostly had something unique which made it spectacular.  Our awards for the islands we picked are as follows:

Best Food – Mantaray

Best Snorkelling – Mantaray

Best accommodation – Oarsman’s Bay Lodge

Best experience – Swimming with Sharks at Wayalailai/Scuba dive at Mantaray

Best facilities –  Bounty Island

What was also amazing about the island adventures was that you didn’t have to carry your luggage anywhere; it was always carried for you all you had to do was confirm which was yours both on the flyer and at the resorts.  A couple of things to be aware of are that a lot of resorts tell you the tap water is safe to drink.. don’t drink this water but stick to bottled as even if it is ok for the locals its still likely to make you a bit sick. Additionally I unfortunately got quite sick we think from the bolognese type meal at Wayalailai which lasted for a week and then again when home.  Be careful what you eat and if you aren’t sure what it is don’t have it!

If you are on a budget it is worth factoring in the cost of the compulsory meal packages in your costs.  One unfortunate couple who we met at Oarsman’s Bay Lodge had the trip bought for them and were unaware of these extras which took up half their budget in the first couple of days.  Some places like Fijian dollars and some like card payments so it is always good to have both just in case.

We were sad to leave Fiji after encountering some lovely people there and being made to feel so welcome and we havent discounted another visit maybe for our 10th anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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