*WARNING* ~ lots of photos!
Well, we are back from a truly wonderful week in Fiji. What a fabulous experience!
Neither of us had ever been to Fiji before (or any other tropical island, for that matter) so it was all very new and exciting. We started saving for this trip in 2007, so the anticipation was high. But I have to say, it was totally worth doing all that overtime!
There was actually a bit of drama at the start of our trip. Our flight left Auckland at 3.30pm, as scheduled. After we had been in the air for about an hour, there was an announcement from the pilot. There was a problem with the plane. Something to do with the indicator flaps. It was “nothing to be concerned about”, but unfortunately the plane would have to return to Auckland. Gutted!
It took another hour to get back, and then we sat on the plane for an hour and a half, eating dinner while we waited for a replacement plane to arrive. From Brisbane, Australia. More waiting, then finally we boarded the new plane and were on our way to Fiji. Again.
By the time we arrived in Nadi and got a taxi to our hotel, it was 11.30pm. Five hours after our scheduled arrival time of 6.30pm.
But that was merely a blip. Because the rest of the trip was absolute perfection.
Our first night was spent at Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.
The next morning, we took a courtesy coach to Port Denerau. There we boarded the South Sea Cruises ferry, bound for the beautiful Mamanuca Islands.
On the way, the ferry dropped passengers off at various other island resorts (South Sea, Beachcomber, Treasure and Bounty), giving us our first glimpse of palm tree covered islands with white sand and clear, sparkling water. Bliss!
As the boat arrived at our destination, Mana Island, we were greeted with joyful singing and guitar playing, and many a “Bula!” from the friendly Fijian resort staff who were at the wharf to meet & greet us.
Mana Island Resort and Spa. Our home for the next 6 nights.
This was our Island Bure. The stone wall you can see is an outdoor shower, with 8-foot high walls. It was FABULOUS! It’s quite a surreal experience to look up in the shower and see this:
The room itself was stunning and immaculate, with air conditioning, a King-sized bed and beautiful amenities.
We spent long, hot days snorkelling and swimming, reading by the pool, exploring the island, and relaxing.
The resort has 3 beaches, and all of them are perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
The snorkelling was AMAZING.
We saw so many beautiful tropical fish, of every imaginable colour, as well as coral, anenomes, sea cucumber and starfish. Every time we swam out over the reef and got to the edge (the dropoff), it reminded me of “Finding Nemo”. It was just like the movie. The water was so clear, and the fish just swam around us, never afraid. One of the most amazing things was seeing huge schools of blue fish and yellow fish, literally hundreds of them, all swimming together in a group. Rob saw a stingray and a baby shark. I’m glad I didn’t see either!
There is a great lookout point above the resort, where we enjoyed these spectacular views:
We decided that in order to really experience Fijian culture, we would make the most of the many activities and demonstrations the resort had to offer.
Making (and eating!) coconut ice cream:
Pool volleyball, with other guests and resort staff:
Bingo happens every evening during happy hour (5-6pm), next to the pool bar. We won 3 games on our last night, and made about $F11.
Each night after dinner, we enjoyed the live band and the various cultural performances, including a church choir, Polynesian dancing, fire dancing, Meke shows, and a beach bonfire party.
Over the hill from the resort was a secluded beach where a reality TV show was filmed. We were told it was Survivor, but I don’t think it was. Rob took these photos of the “set” that was built and still stands today:
On our last full day (which unfortunately turned out to be the only overcast day), we spent the day sailing on a beautiful 83-foot schooner called “Seaspray”.
The ship took us to Monriki Island in the Yasawa group, where Tom Hanks filmed the movie “Castaway”. We were able to go ashore and explore the island, and snorkel in the surrounding waters.
Back on the ship, we enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch (cooked by the crew).
We then sailed to another island, home to a traditional Fijian village. We were welcomed to the village with a traditional Kava ceremony.
I was quite sad to see the poverty that a lot of Fijian people live in, but they all seemed so happy.
The village children were out in the water, swimming, paddling their canoes and fishing from little boats. They were laughing and having the time of their lives, and were so friendly.
Apart from that one overcast day, which started with a bit of rain, we had amazing weather the whole time we were there. Clear blue skies, with temperatures of about 28-30C every day. It was certainly a shock to the system to come back to Auckland’s 14C and rain! My tan was looking pretty good, but is now hidden away under all my winter layers!
Saying goodbye was bittersweet. On the one hand, we didn’t want to leave, but on the other hand we couldn’t wait to see our boys again (who, incidentally, had a wonderful time with their grandparents).
Words really cannot explain how amazing this holiday was. It was the perfect way to celebrate our 10-year anniversary.
The wonderful memories I have will last me a lifetime. I am so glad that Rob and I were able to share this experience together.