To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
This week I have continued to explore the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands in Fiji with Awesome Adventures.
After I reluctantly waved goodbye to my lavish bure at Barefoot Manta, I moved half an hour further South to Naqalia Lodge on Wayalailai Island. I’d heard nothing but great reviews about this lodge so, was very excited to check it out for myself.
Like every other island in Fiji, I was given the warmest of welcomes on arrival. The family gathered on the beach with vibrant hibiscus flowers tucked behind their ears, singing the Fijian welcome song with their guitars.
Wayalailai had some of the best and most unique scenery I had seen in Fiji yet.
Outstanding jagged rock formations sprouted out of towering green mountains, whilst the lodge sat nestled underneath lush foliage and palm trees.
On my first night it was Fiji night. This meant the staff cooked our dinner the traditional Fijian way – in the ground (or lovo, as they call it), we took part in a kava ceremony and worked up a sweat learning some Fijian dances. The staff were so energetic, ensuring everyone was up and dancing.
The next day it was the time I’d been dreading/excitedly anticipating – I was heading out into the middle of the ocean to swim with reef sharks.
After a bumpy ride out on the boat, I kit myself out in snorkelling gear, thanked my lucky stars there wasn’t a circle of fins awaiting beneath me and waddled my way into the sea.
I swam over colourful coral and within seconds I had spotted my first shark – it was around four feet long and glided gracefully across the coral.
It wasn’t the terrifying vision I’d expected but a fascinating and endearing one – I wanted to find more.
I swam further away from the boat and was greeted by a group of five or six more sharks.
I floated atop the water admiring their every move… hoping they wouldn’t mistake me for a seal.
The guys from the resort fed them fish they’d caught spear fishing only moments before, which lured the sharks to the surface.
One unexpectedly wiggled past my head giving me a near heart attack…
After I was hoisted very unladylike back into the boat, I felt elated and chuffed with myself for giving it a go and surpassing my fear – pat on the back for Lydia.
The next evening I took on the three-hour sunset hike to the peak of Wayalailai.
Traipsing through thick, green grass higher than my head and up unstable rocky inclines, it was a challenge hike yet, one which was very much rewarded by the 360 degree panoramic view across the ocean and the gorgeous sunset.
The dogs had zero vertigo at the edge of the cliff…
We then returned to the resort in the inky dark night, head torches at the ready – the happy hour $F4 Fiji Gold had never felt so well-earned.
Next, I hopped across the water (literally) to Barefoot Manta’s sister resort – Barefoot Kuata. As I had been so impressed with Barefoot Manta’s accommodation, I was very excited to see how the two resorts varied.
At Kuata I was put up in a cute glamping tent right on the waterfront (falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean will never get old) and spent my couple of nights stay making the most of the THREE swimming pools overlooking the rugged stone mountains of Wayalailai and power reading The Girl on the Train in our tent’s shaded hammock.
The reef area here is also protected meaning, the snorkelling is top-notch (check out this fascinating shoal of thousands of sardines)!
I ended the week leaving the Yasawa Islands and heading to my first Mamanuca Island, Bounty. This island was recommended to me by the lovely Nick and Flic over at Lights Camera Backpack who I met at Barefoot Manta. As soon as they had mentioned there was a turtle sanctuary at the resort, I was sold.
Once I had arrived, I learnt that Bounty Island Resort has a turtle programme where they rear Hawksbill turtles until a certain age or, until they think they have a better chance of survival in the wild. I was in my element watching them dip, swim and feed in their pool. I mean, look how cute they are…
I am now on Mana Island, another member of the Mamanucas enjoying my last couple of days of island life before reluctantly heading back to the main island.
Until next week…