Fiji

Fiji

Our flight from Auckland landed us at Nadi Airport on the west coast of Viti Levu, the main Fijian island. We had arranged a package holiday touring the islands off the north west coast of Viti Levu. This would take up all our time in Fiji – everything except the first night. So we spent that in a rather tired resort on the mainland which served its purpose adequately.

We had to be at Denarau Marina to catch our boat at 8:30. I set my phone to get us up at 6:30 so we could take our time and have a slow breakfast. But my phone got its summer time settings in a twist and 10 minutes after getting up we discovered that it was 7:40, not 6:40. Leisurely preparations became frenzied activity, breakfast was sacrificed and we got to the port with 5 minutes to spare.

The departure of the Yasawa Flyer is one of the few thing in Fiji which takes place at the advertised time so it was fortunate that we caught it. Then we had a leisurely cruise through the Yasawa Islands to our first destination, Nabua Lodge, where we would spend 2 nights. If you look in the white box on the left of this post you will see a folder marked Fiji. Click on it to open it and you will see a file called day 1.kmz. Click on this and you can download the file. Do so and save it somewhere on your computer where you will be able to find it again. If you have Google Earth installed – available HERE – clicking on the file will show you our route and the photos I took. It was an overcast day so I have not used those photos on the blog. We would see them in more favourable circumstances later.

Once we arrived off Nabua Lodge, we transferred to a small open boat and transferred to shore.

The Yasawa Flyer leaves us

The Yasawa Flyer leaves us

We were now a long way from the trappings of civilization but as we waded ashore through water as warm as a bath this did not seem a great hardship.

Nabua Lodge from the sea

Nabua Lodge from the sea

We had opted not to be in the dorm with all the backpackers and so had a rather nice cabin all to ourselves.

Our cabin at Nabua Lodge

Our cabin at Nabua Lodge

The majority of the people on the holiday were backpackers, mostly in their twenties and on the Backpacker Trail – South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, USA and home. It was great to speak to people younger than ourselves and they seemed quite pleased to talk to us. Being there was what counted, not your age. And they were all amazingly polite to us old fogies!

Nabua Lodge in morning light

Nabua Lodge in morning light

The beach was rather nice and Chris rapidly developed a passion for collecting shells.

Chris on the beach at Nabua Lodge

Chris on the beach at Nabua Lodge

On our second day we were taken to Sawailau Cave which is a cave in coral limestone with its entrance just off a beach of coral sand. It is flooded with fresh water. The first cave has a partially collapsed roof so one can see and it is rather nice swimming. The other cave, connected to the first, has to be reached by a very short sump. It’s roof is complete but it is not lightless. Light comes in underwater through the sump, which is more like a curtain dipping into the water than an underwater tunnel. So rather magical – you can’t see peoples heads but you can see their bodies in the water!

Chris in the first Sawailau Cave

Chris in the first Sawailau Cave

Chris in Sawailau Cave

Chris in Sawailau Cave

Then it was back to the lodge where we engaged in the main activity – lying in a hammock reading a book and dozing.

The third day was the same as we waited for the Flyer to come back to Nabua Lodge and take us to our next destination – Korovou.

Korovou is slightly more sophisticated than Nabua – they have an internet connection. but otherwise it is very similar. As they face west they have better sunsets.

Sunset at Korovou

Sunset at Korovou

The sea in front of Korovou is very shallow and even the small boats bringing you in from the Flyer have to stop a long way out. So they have built an underwater pathway to get you to the beach!

The underwater path to the beach, Korovou

The underwater path to the beach, Korovou

These shallow beaches were quite  a problem. When the tide was in, you could swim from the beach, albeit in shallow water. But when the tide was out you had to cross an area of very sharp rock and broken coral to get to water of swimmable depth. This could be rather painful.

The deck at Korovou - dining room and dance floor

The deck at Korovou - dining room and dance floor

We were at Korovou for only one night and the next afternoon we were off to our next stop Waya Lailai. This took us past some rather rugged islands and you can see some photographs of these here. I forgot to turn my GPS on for this journey, so I cannot give exact positions for the photographs.

An island between Korovou and Waya Lailai

An island between Korovou and Waya Lailai

An island between Korovou and Waya Lailai

An island between Korovou and Waya Lailai

An island between Korovou and Waya Lailai

An island between Korovou and Waya Lailai

Eventually we got to Waya Lailai and it proved to be as scenic as its northerly neighbours.

The view from Waya Lailai

The view from Waya Lailai

It also did good sunsets.

Sunset at Waya Lailai

Sunset at Waya Lailai

The main activity at Waya was lying in hammocks, which was very pleasant.

Hammocks at Waya Lailai

Hammocks at Waya Lailai

But we also went snorkelling on the offshore coral reefs. This involved a twenty minute boat trip to what seemed to be the middle of nowhere on the high seas. But once we were over the side we found ourselves on top of a shallow reef. It was full of fish, perhaps not as many as the Great Barrier Reef, but still very good. The highlight was when the divemaster caught a 4 foot reef shark and let us feel its skin. There were half a dozen sharks in the area and it was interesting to have them circling us. They were all small and very tame – they are fed tidbits every day by the snorkelling parties – so they know they are on to a good thing. I suspect that they could take a decent sized chunk out of you but they were not at all threatening.

After 2 nights at Waya we set off for the last island we would be staying at – Beachcomber. This was very different from all the other resorts. It is a sand bank in the middle of the sea, surrounded by a coral reef. All the other resorts had been on volcanic islands, surrounded by a coral reef.

Beachcomber resort

Beachcomber resort

It was, by far, the most commercial. But even so it was not very commercial. It has a reputation as a party island but despite its small size – you can walk round it in 10 minutes – peace and quiet can easily be achieved. Backpackers can be noisy but, almost invariably, they are very polite.

After spending a day on the beach and in the sea we caught the Flyer and were back in Denarau before 6PM. Supper at the Marina then off to the airport to catch our flight to Hawaii. And that will be the subject of the next post.

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