On the way back from the Yasawas (outer) Island group I jumped off at the tiny South Sea Island in the Mamanucas (inner) islands. It was just a 30 minute ride from “mainland” Fiji and therefore also attractive to day trippers coming over.
The reason for picking this island was that everything, except drinks, was free! I got to walk around the island which took less than five minutes, kayak around the island which took less than fifteen minutes and then also sail around the island which took less than half an hour. I am not a big fan of being stuck on a small island no matter how beautiful the beaches are, but South Sea was quite alright because of all the stuff you could do there. They ran two daily trips out to the outer reef for snorkeling and two trips with a yellow “submarine” where we also could see the reef on close hold- without even getting wet! Even though my stay here has been quite fun it still feels a bit more like a package holiday with buffet meals and entertainment shows included and it might be hard getting back to the backpacker lifestyle after this.
It was time for my third national holiday this month. This time it was Fiji who had their 45th independence day, much like Papua New Guinea and Tuvaly, the indepence day was celebrating by eating lots and lots of food and watching songs and traditional dances performed by locals. Almost everyone had the day off so the people from the villages on the island joined in on our games of volleyball, tug war, bun eating competition and musical chairs. Playing childrens birthdayparty games seem to be a big thing here in the Yasawas islands, especially on their national holiday but also the rest of the evenings as well.
What I had been looking forward to the most with my stay at White Sandy Beach was the possibility of going swimming with mantarays, who normally would come up to feed around six in the mornings. I booked a trip, got up at five the next morning and snorkelled around the spot where the boat dropped us off for a few hours without seeing a single one of these creatures! I was bummed, but realised that I should not have expected to see them in the first place as it was the end of the season (oct) and there had never been any guarantee that the big creatures would be seen. We got to see some crayfish, starfish, eels and lots of colorful fish at the coral garden though which made up for it all.
The two resorts on Naviti Island were located on White Sandy Beach and on the oposite side was the so called Honeymoon Beach which was much nicer, but private with a two dollar entry fee. What people did not seem to know was that there was a tiny and peaceful beach between the two where no light and not even a single person could be seen. It the ideal place for night swimming, also because it was season for bioluminiscent algae which lighted up the ocean. For my last night on the island I decided to bring my hammock and sleeping bag to look up at the star sky which was more incredible than any star sky I had ever seen before. I stayed up the whole night with my star map phone app to try to recognize star signs and watch out for shooting stars which I saw more than thirty of during just that night. It was a truly magical experience well worth missing a nights sleep for.
When six employees from Nabua Lodge came out to welcome us with songs and a readily prepared meal, the five hour boat ride in rough sea was soon forgotten. We had landed on Nacula Island, which was as far out on the Yasawas Islands that scheduled boat transport could possibly take us. The island is known for its tranquility and laid back life, but the first day there was quite stormy where we spent most of the time indoor getting to know each other, learning Fiji dances and playing Fijian games.
Luckily the wind calmed down for our remaining days so that we could relax and read at the lodge and then head out to the Blue Lagoon for snorkelling, go to the nearby tea house for some delicious cake and visit the village on the island.
Although we saw a lot of fish and most people said they absolutely loved it I was not too impressed with it all. Fijis main income is from tourism and it seemed to be reflected in the way things are run here. Fiji is a country blessed with beautiful nature and culture, but by receiving that many tourists the destination looses a bit of its purity and genuinety. So far the Fijian Island hopping has felt more like a package holiday than a backpacking trip but I guess a comfortable break from more hardcore travels has never hurt anyone and I am curious to what the other islands here have to offer.
The guys making our daily 3 o’clock tea house cake