When our plane finally landed at Nadi airport, four hours later than scheduled because of a weather delay, we walked through immigration with our newly purchased duty free items into the main lobby and were greeted at the information desk. Soon afterwards we found ourselves sitting at a travel desk going through our options for the next few weeks. We had already told ourselves we wanted to go island hopping and the helpful lady talked us into a ‘Bula Pass’. Bula is a word you will never forget once you have been to Fiji! We booked our ticket there and then as we didn’t want to waste a day and as a result they gave us a free night in a hotel near the port.

At this stage we had no idea about the mosquitoes!

Soon after we reached the hotel but there were apparently some crossed wires somewhere along the line and we had to fork out an extra $8 for our room, it was a little under £3 but we did get upgraded to a family room with Air Con. After dinner we went back to our room to discover there was a power-cut, still they did have candles to hand and strangely the Air Con was still working. Before we forget to mention it, the ride from the airport was exceptional; the taxi couldn’t have completed the journey if a single extra part of the car broke, the lights on the dashboard were all showing signs of an impending breakdown and the ones that should have been on during a normal journey were not, even the rev counter was broken! The car needed to be traded to Mr S. McCann! (A fictional character)

The Siamese twins also had freakishly small heads!

In the morning Alex showed his quality, by locking the room key in the bedroom before breakfast. There was nobody at reception at all, not even a Gopher! Breakfast was then served next door at their sister hotel, but it might as well be called a ‘Hotel That Is Slightly Aware Of The Existence Of The Crap Hotel Next Door!’ Breakfast was, at the minimum, a hostile affair! Our coach was picking us up in about fifteen minutes or less and Claire was about to have Alex’s gut’s for garters! We impatiently waited for the staff to finally identify that nobody was able to get into the office for the spare key because that person had not not showed up for work the day previously! As a result, apparently that meant they most probably were not showing up that day either. When a stroke of genius hit one of the receptionists and she said she would open the door with a spoon. Realising this was our best chance so far, we followed with great keenness and suddenly we were inside before you could say ‘Excellent security!’ We grabbed our stuff and waited outside for the bus.

Proof that sharks don't eat whales!

We made it to the port in about half an hour and booked our first night at the northern most Yasawa Island. This had been recommended as a good starting point as you can have a peek at them all on the way and then decide where you want stay as you make your way south back to the mainland. Our first stop was Coral View on Tavewa Island; as we boarded the small boat that took us to shore and closed in on the beach we could hear the entire staff of the resort all singing a welcome song for us. We sat in the restaurant area after shaking hands and saying ‘Bula’ twenty five times and were given a welcome speech with all the details of the resort. We just wanted to relax and after lunch we left our luggage and slobbed. This continued for the next day two days with only meals breaks and sleeping getting in the way. The wind was quite breezy during those few days and at one point it rained so hard for about half an hour that our bedroom floor was flooded halfway across the room.

This photo was difficult to capture!

We left at about midday on the third morning for Korovou Eco Tour Resort on Naviti Island and bumped into a lovely couple from England while on the boat called Sam and Lauren. We found our room and sat out on the porch for a few Rum-n-Coke’s, pre mixed by ourselves from our duty-free supply. We had noticed the locally produced ‘Bounty Rum’ was on offer, two bottles for $49, which is cheap, then when you factor in that it is 58% Alc. It wasn’t long before we had offered our friends a drink and they offered to supply us with mixer as long as the rum was flowing. It was absolutely disgustingly strong but after a couple you didn’t notice any longer. The rest of the night was a blur, but we do recall being on the beach for hours by a bonfire talking to other travellers about each other’s tales until the crowd had finally dispersed. Breakfast was skipped, lunch was eaten by Alex but not Claire. As we starred at the sky through the trees while swaying in a hammock we contemplated whether or not we would ever touch a drop of ‘Bounty’ again!

To get the sharks to come closer we put some juicy bait in the water!

Several hours later we were dropped off at the Manta Ray Bay Island Resort on Nanuya Balavu. We liked the sound of this resort as it described itself as having tree houses and jungle houses, and we were intrigued to stay in one of the tree houses. As we arrived the resort looked slightly more modern than the others so far, and had comfy sofas and Sky TV which was a bonus, plus all the usual stuff we had become accustomed to such as hammocks and chair swings etc. We came to our hut, which to be honest was not in a tree, but on stilts, slightly disappointing but we made the best of it and in the end we had one of the best nights sleeps in our little hut. We had the beach directly in front of us, our own private hammock and swing chairs and it was pretty nice. The resort had an additional charge for food, rather than being included like the previous ones. However, we were impressed with the standard of food, and got a choice of what to have! Nice one!

The bait was working!

The evening’s entertainment consisted of some games including a crab race, $1 to purchase a crab, name and number it and place it back in the bucket. Our host had drawn a centre circle and a large circle about two metres in diameter around the outside, the bucket went upside down in the centre circle. The bucket was lifted and they were off; the fastest five would be entered into heat two and the fastest three would be entered into the final. Claire’s little soldier, number eighteen made it to the second heat, Alex’s was too lame and was released back into the sand; his racing days were over. Heat two started with little to no hope for Fred, number eighteen AKA Claire’s Little Soldier; he was living up to his reputation as a Hermit and remained inside his shell for about half of the race, when all of a sudden he gained a second wind after the first heat and emerged first place with a sprint that a more superior crustacean would have been proud of. Sadly Fred was spent and never stood a chance in the final; he had used all of his mojo in the second heat, we were still proud trainers with his silver medal and released him with number nineteen!

Says it all!

Alex woke up early to watch an outclassed Man United get whooped by Barcelona in the Champions League Final. Disappointed but not overly concerned with the loss he went back to find Claire all over his side of the bed as expected. It was breakfast time and we needed to check out soon, so once we were fed we packed and arranged a nice position on the beach for about six hours. Fiji has been really hard on us, there has been too much sitting in the sun and all that jazz! The boat collected us again and dropped us off at Naqalia lodge on Waya Lailai Island and we were presented with the now familiar problem of eating food and relaxing in any way we saw fit!

Claire's Starfish!

After our early night (mainly due to the bar not having any beer left) we had an early morning because the night before we had decided to take part in a shark feeding trip. It was only $30 and we had not seen any sharks yet except in tanks. The previous night we had a chat with the others going on the same trip about which sharks were present in the Pacific Ocean and whether they were man-eaters or not. Claire was uneasy on whether to jump in the water with the rest of the human bait or to follow her instincts and avoid the danger altogether, but Alex got her there; if the truth should be known, the boat trip out into the Ocean was more worrying than the sharks. We snorkelled up and jumped overboard. As soon as we were in the water we saw a shark, a reef shark that was about five feet long, lurking below us moving slowly in our direction. Their motion is efficient and effortless! They liked to keep their distance from the cumbersome oaf’s above and while we were hooked on the reefs and ocean floor looking for more of them our guide was spear fishing in the background amassing some fish to attract more of them in.

South Sea Island! Tiny!!

We found a coral cove and couple of sharks made several appearances. Alex dived down to get some close up photos, making it about two metres from them a few times. Our guide returned with some bait to feed them with and within a few minutes there were about four sharks in view at all times. The only problem was another boat of people had arrived and there were now loads of bloody idiots all around. Our guide dived down to the sea floor and hand fed a shark then grabbed it tight and brought it up to the surface; to be fair that makes it sound easy to do, but it isn’t! Our group tried to get close but all the new arrivals got in the way and only Alex managed to get in by barging through to touch it. Shortly afterwards our guide said it was time to go before the bigger sharks got the scent and found the cove for a feeding frenzy!

Another one bites the dust!

Later in the afternoon we joined our hosts for a Kava ceremony. Kava is a drink that has the appearance of muddy water and is widely drunk by Fijians all across their 333 islands. It is made from the root of a plant that is farmed on the wettest parts of Fiji; they smash it to pieces and grind it down in a large bowl with a massive pole. When it’s ready they strain it through a cloth with fresh water into a large bowl and hey presto; it’s served in a half coconut shell. The effect it has on you is a mild tingling in the mouth a bit like an anaesthetic, then you are supposed to just sit back and relax as it takes you into a sleepy feeling and enjoy what they call ‘FijiTime’ a bit like ‘MillerTime’ except the complete opposite. Claire had one cupful and decided it was not her thing; she would say it was gross. Alex did feel a tingling around the gums but no real sleepy effect after one cup, but the sixth or seventh cup he would agree that there was something to it; it did have an effect but nothing that impaired conscious thought or made him feel sleepy.

That said, the Fijians went on to explain about tribalism in Fiji and how it works, different tribes have different ways of doing the ceremony etc. the thing that came across the strongest was that they are all very happy living here and although they do work jobs they can quit whenever they want and not rely on their government to survive because they all know how to use the land and oceans to feed themselves and have the skills to not need money. Amazing really when you think about it, when your bank balance gets low you start to worry about money back home!

Our fav photo!

We boarded the boat for our final island, the smallest one we were going to stay on, South Sea Island! It really was tiny and they only had accommodation for up to about 35 people, maybe less, in a dorm room only. You could walk around the island at a fast pace in about three minutes but if you ran you could do it in less than sixty seconds and that was the attraction to us; not the running but the exclusivity. As it turned out the island was quite busy with day trippers from the mainland, being close to the mainland makes day trips more accessible for tourists, still it wasn’t overrun and we didn’t really notice anybody else until the meals were called by the banging of the drums.

Big up the Crabs! Go Hermits!

They had Crab Racing again in the evening after dinner, all the day trippers had gone and there were only about fifteen people in the race. Claire had carefully selected her crab; Alex was also in the race for a laugh calling his Crab 007! Claire was feeling confident about this one, no more second place for her and Fred II. The choice was a good’n and after three rounds Fred won! Claire and Alex had a lovely bottle of wine to enjoy as the prize for Fred’s efforts!

Snugs Immobilised!

The next morning we had to be up, out of the room and scoff breakfast before 8am, this was pretty tough. Afterwards the next 2 hours were spent doing “Hammock time” until the free boat trip and snorkelling to the outer reef. A quick 5 minute boat ride out and we were jumping into the reef all geared up. We have to say we were able to see such a diverse range of coral formations, fish and other sea life; it was a great place to snorkel. We saw loads of blue star fish, one, of which we were able to hold, we also saw a sea cucumber and the tiniest clown fish with their mummy and daddy, very cute. A good 25 minutes later the boat was waiting, ready to take everyone back to the Island. A bit more relaxing occurred before a yummy BBQ lunch was served with some singing and dancing as entertainment, which we have to say is the best we have seen so far in Fiji.

Kava ceromony in full swing!

The afternoon activities included some of our own snorkelling around the Island, which didn’t provide the range of sights as the outer reef, but was still fun. A submarine trip was also on the cards, the Island has its own “Yellow submarine” just on the outer reef. Deep into the vessel you go and sit yourself down ready for a 15 minute cruise underwater to see some sea life the easy and lazy way. Luckily there was some air conditioning, but it was still a bit claustrophobic and we were happy to see light again and go back to the Island.

Claire in full swing!

With only a couple of hours left until boarding the ferry we had some more chilling and relaxing to do. The ferry back to the mainland was quick and soon we were on the coach heading for our hostel for the night. We had a splurge and went for a private double room which was pretty nice, with TV, hot water, tea facilities, air con and a comfy bed, things we hadn’t seen on the Islands. We decided to also treat ourselves to a good meal at the restaurant downstairs and a beer or two.

Claire's Artistic Talent!

We waited for our transport to Malolo Island out the back of the hostel, not really sure what to expect we were greeted by the driver of the boat who gave us a ticket and asked us to wait for some others. At this point a master salesman saw his bait and headed to it, the bait was us! He gave us some schpeil about how great the English are, asking how we were enjoying Fiji and had we tried a green coconut, he led us to his stash of coconuts that he had just got from the tree by climbing it and chopped them into drinking containers for us, safe to say he made a nice $10 out of us for something we didn’t really want, but we guess after 32 years of doing it he was pretty good!

Cocktails on the Beach Resort!

Anyway soon after our boat was ready, a nippy little thing it was and soon we were being propelled by the 200bhp engine reaching speeds of about 40mph, with our hair blowing in all directions and water spray soaking us. The boat was full already, and to our amazement we stopped at Beachcomber Island to pick up 4 more people, somehow we made room for them. The bumpy journey continued, bad weather equals waves which equals lots of up and down motions, this then equals Claire feeling a bit seasick, at this time we had been travelling in the sea around an hour, we had to get to our Island soon before Claire ‘Ralphed’, and luckily it was the next stop. Phew!

The traditional welcome song was waiting for us, we checked into our cosy lodge and had lunch while the heavens opened, it continued to tip it down for the remainder of the night.

Miller!

Our time on Malolo Island was a relaxed affair, with the rain pouring down for the first two days followed by a couple of days of sunshine. The food was hearty and westernised with plenty of chips etc. We stayed at Wali Beach Resort in a lodge halfway up the hillside. They had a cool, freshwater swimming pool that was perfect for cooling off in when it got too hot. the biggest bummer about this part of our stay was the mosquitoes, they have torn us apart. It has been more like a massacre, with us being the target in evenings. At last count Alex had about fifty bites on his back alone with Claire a close second, but they have bitten us everywhere they can, arms, legs, neck, face, even fingers and toes. After research on Google we have learned that they do actually bite the people they find the most tasty, they float around until they make up their minds then they swoop. Oh, and it’s the women only that need a blood meal!

Hangover Cure! A girl with a massive pair of coconuts!

We will be on our way in the morning, back to England. Thank you for following our travel blog and don’t stop logging in, we will be posting an overall summary a few days after we have returned and reflected on our trip.

See you all soon!

Alex and Claire!

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