In It’s Fiji, not Mt. Fuji Part 1, I have shared my first general impression of Fiji. Even on my first day on the Island, I had found myself already captivated by the warmth in Fijians’ hospitality towards the tourists. To me, this speaks volume about the beauty of the culture and people of Fiji. In the following, I describe more of my adventures hopping three islands in Fiji.
Day Two – The Nacula Island
My first island in Fiji was The Nacula Island! The bus to Port Denarau left as early as 7AM in the morning from Smugglers Cove, on which the lodge I spent my first night resided. The bus journey took us about four hours and thirty minutes to reach Port Denarau. From there, the other tourists and I had to catch another five-minute boat ride to the Safe Landing Resort, which is one of the four resorts operating on the Nacula Island.
According to the travel itinerary given to us, we were expected to be on this island for the next two days. Upon our arrival, we were once again welcomed by the ‘Bula Maleya’ song sang by two Fijian males with their ukuleles. This had helped a bit in shaking off the lethargy felt by the group due to the long travel.
It was not long before I learnt from our guide that we were not allowed to snorkel freely at their beaches. To kill the time, I decided to do a bit of strolling in the evening. As I was walking to the nearest neighbourhood, I heard singing voices of several men from a nearby hut, which frankly, startled me. I discovered later that these men are hut builders and the fact that they were singing in perfect harmony while building the hut just left me in awe.
Every establishment on the Nacula Island including the resort that I stayed in closed early in the evening. With no lights, I found myself completely surrounded by the darkness. Despite that, it provided us with a good opportunity to enjoy the bliss of a clear starlit sky, which is not possible from the city.
Day Three – Snorkelling at Blue Lagoon Reef
If you can recall, I had mentioned in It’s Fiji, not Mt. Fuji Part 1 that I had purchased vouchers for various activities to do in Fiji. I used one of those vouchers to snorkel the reef site at Blue Lagoon Reef.
Blue Lagoon Reef became a popular site for snorkelling activities after a movie called ‘The Blue Lagoon’ set their shoot around the reef. It took a half an hour boat ride to reach the Blue Lagoon Reef from the Nacula Island. I immediately fell in love with its crystal blue waters. Even from on the boat, you can easily see the various colours of fish. It was one of the unbelievable moments that left me speechless.
That evening, I used another voucher for a village visit. We headed to the nearest village for a lesson on Fijian culture. We didn’t exactly meet the villagers, but we had the chance to interact with the Chief of the village. From him, we learnt more about their way of living, which mostly relies on the local fishery, agriculture planting, construction of huts, and of course, the tourism industry. During the briefing from the village Chief’s undertones, it was not lost to me how hard they have struggled economically, in particular, after being badly hit by the hurricane in 2016.
After the meet with the village Chief, we were served with kava drink. What is kava? It is a mud-coloured drink made from crushed roots of the kava plant. Kava has drug properties that can intoxicate those who drink it and it has long been used by Fijians as a social and spiritual drink. Another interesting fact about kava is that this species of plant can only be found on Pacific Islands.
Since it is organic in nature, I decided to give it a try. It immediately numbed my tongue. I also find that the drink tasted way too bitter for my liking. This is not surprising cause Kava itself, means bitter.
Day Four –Diving at Sawa-I-Lau Cave
In the early morning of day-four on the island, we were taken to Sawa-I-Lau cave for a swim and diving. How cool is that?
The Sawa-I-Lau Cave has quite a history. The legend goes that a long time ago, a young Chief used this cave to hide his betrothed after the family threatened to marry her off to a rival Chief. It is said that the young Chief would swim to the Cave every day to meet his betrothed. Based on my readings, Sawa-I-Lau is also viewed as a sacred place since it serves as the resting grounds for the ten-headed ancient Fiji god named Ulutini.
After almost half a day in Sawa-I-Lau, we made a move to the second island scheduled in the travel itinerary, Drawaqa Island. I stayed at Barefoot Manta Island Resort for two nights in a four single-bed wooden hut.
The Drawaqa Island is so small that you can explore the whole island in just one day. Since the hiking seemed less rigorous on this island, I climbed its summit with my roommates to enjoy the sunset. It was truly an amazing sight to behold.
Day Five – Swimming with Manta Rays of Fiji
I have to admit, swimming with Manta Rays was my main reason for coming to Fiji in the first place. Manta rays are the largest species of rays. The largest can reach up to 7 metres wide. They are also known to be gentle creatures and therefore, they are quite safe to swim with. The largest ray I swam with was about 5 metres in width. To reach Manta Rays Point, you have to take a three-minute boat ride from the resort. Yes, the rays sighting point was so near to the Barefoot Manta Island Resort that you could easily swim there.
I spent the rest of the day sunbathing and snorkelling with reef shark pups. The resort also provides you with other activities. I tried to play volleyball with other guests, but quickly gave it up after realising how bad I was at it. They also provide you with tyre tubes that you can use as a floating device.
Day Six – The Beautiful Island of Nanuya Balavu
My next stop was the Mantaray Island Resort in the Nanuya Balavu Island. Nanuya Balavu Island was probably the prettiest out of the three islands I had visited so far in Fiji. The resort’s infrastructure looked more well-designed compared to the resorts in Dramaqa Island and Nacula Island. The same goes to other buildings sighted on this island.
When I thought, I could not have seen clearer blue sea waters than at the previous two islands, I once again, was shocked by the visibility of the water in Nanuya Balavu. In my humble opinion, the water here beats the clarity of the sea water in the Great Barrier Reef. Its collection of reefs seemed to be more colourful as well. I’ve also snorkelled in Semporna, Malaysia once, but the reefs here are still clearly beyond comparison.
In Fiji you are, without a doubt, completely spoiled with beach activities. During the rest of the days spent at Nanuya Balavu, I had gone for kayaking, and more snorkelling and swimming with Manta Rays. Since this was the last island to hop, we were entertained with some fun game shows and exciting Fijian performances throughout the dinner.
The Last Day – Fiji, You Will Be Truly Missed
It was time to say goodbye to Fiji and my travel buddies. I came to Fiji alone, but I left with more friends than I could have imagine.
Fiji has given me many wonderful beach adventures that I gratefully treasure. I had been to other top beach destinations in the world and all I can say is that Fiji is one of a kind. Not to mention, the wonderful people of Fiji and their vibrant culture. Fiji, you will be truly missed.
Legend of Mantaray Island. Available at https://mantarayisland.com/nanuya-balavu-island/.
Manta Rays. Available at https://mantarayisland.com/manta-ray-fiji/.
What is Kava. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/kava/.
Yasawa Island. Home of the famous Blue Lagoon. Available at http://www.bluelagooncruises.com/destination-fiji-islands/yasawa-islands/.
Currently working as a manager for pharmaceutical logistics distributor of Pharmaniaga in Malaysia, Bella is an electrical engineering graduate from the Australian National University. She is also a true lover of cats and beaches.
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