We Didn't Find the Picturesque Fiji We Were Seeking For
Our journey through Fiji’s Yasawa Islands started in a small village on Wayasewa Island. We liked to get an idea of the real life on an island and had chosen a homestay for this experience. But before we reached our destination, we traveled from Nadi, where we arrived from Vanuatu to Lautoka. Here we were told a boat would pick us up and we would travel 1.5 h to the island. We came a bit too early at the fisherman’s wharf and had some challenge to identify the boat. But Micha was able to find the brother of our captain, a wharf worker, who helped us immediately. We entered a small long boat with a 40 horsepower engine, loaded up with lots of supplies and two ladies. Before we could start, we had to pay the transport fee of 160 F$. The captain immediately spent this money for gasoline.
At this day the sea was very calm, and we enjoyed the trip. None of the islands had a jetty, so we had to jump out into the waves, and immediately I was pushed by one in the water. Luckily, I had no valuables in my backpack. Upfront we decided to camp on the island instead to stay in one of the rooms they offered. So we pitched the tent under the shade of a tree close to the church. The bathroom in the house had a regular toilet but a very basic shower. Just a large plastic barrel full of rainwater with a small bucket to pure the water over your head.
For dinner, we had sea grapes with tuna, yam and some small fish. You’ll find sea grape trees primarily along sandy shores, but we had never tried them as food before. During the meal, we were told the island community would wake up early with drums beaten. Therefore, we went early in our tent. Before sunrise, we woke up, but not by the drums. We were shaken up by a loud “ Cock-a-doodle-doo”. One rooster was standing directly in front of our tent. The drums started shortly after, so we had not the best start of the day.
In front of the village, we did not find an excellent reef for snorkeling. Therefore, we decided for a snorkeling tour with sharks. We were picked up by a boat together with a girl from Denmark. The crew told us that they would feed the sharks outside on a small reef. Feeding the sharks sounds not we had planned to do, but there was no way back. Arrived at the reef one of the guys jumped into the water and woke up the sleeping white tip reef sharks by nocking some stones on the sea bottom. He used a small dead fish to attract the sharks, and if one passed him, he grabbed him. Now he asked us to pet the shark, which we denied. Furthermore, he was holding the shark up in the air before he released him to the water again.
For us, this was animal torture, and from now on we just dived down to take photos of the sharks while they behave in their natural environment. Shortly after our arrival, a large Danish group arrived on the reef, and it became almost impossible to snorkel or dive without bumping into somebody. Although we took some great shots, the trip had its downside, and we wouldn’t do it again.
Back on the island, we recognized a lot of plastic trash laying around everywhere on the beach. We quickly started an experiment, pulled out a large black waste bag and took the time how long it would take to fill it up with plastic trash while walking around. After 20 minutes the trash bag was filled up, and it became difficult to carry it. A real shocking result. The collected large and small pieces of plastic always reminded us of the consequences to the environment and sea life.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today“ - Abraham Lincoln
We had hoped that the community on the island would be more respectful of this beautiful nature. If you want to be part of the global movement to #RethinkPlastic.
Usually, a sunset hike is offered to climb up one of the mountains which stands up right behind the village. Due to the expected weather change in the afternoon with a lot of clouds, we decided to start the ascent at 3 pm. After an hour hiking uphill we reached the top. The view from here was breath-taking, and we enjoyed the fresh breeze blowing.
For dinner, chicken curry was served. In general, a meal we like but the chicken got chopped into many pieces, and the curry had more bones than meat. In the evening the house was quite busy because all women gathered on the veranda to drink kava. The gathering and the talking prevented us from falling into sleep early. In the middle of the night it began heavily to rain, but our MSR Freelite Tent kept us dry and safe. At 4 am one of the villagers, beat the drums and shortly after the church bells started to ring. Then the villagers gathered in the church and began their matins with plenty of singing. Pitching the tent just in front of the church courtyard was not the best idea we now recognized. Around 5 am the roosters began crowing again and our night was over. We made the decision to leave the island one day earlier as planned. Not only the worse sleep but as well the weather forecast forced us to this step. To depart from the island this morning we decided to use the ferry traveling from island to island instead of the small longboat due to the strong winds and the waves predicted. But to get to the ship we had to use one of the small longboats anyhow. This morning the sea was very rough, we got thoroughly wet, and the ride was one of our bumpiest ones we ever had. We were so lucky as we boarded the ferry to our next destination.
Mantaray Island Resort was our last but important destination on the Islands for two reasons. First, we were keen to see the manta rays and second, we planned to go through a freediver training and certification. Although the season for manta rays started in May, and they usually feed in the passage between Drawaqa Island and our resort, we had no luck. They had not shown up at one of the five days we spent there. Fortunately, the freediving was a great experience, and we finally archived our level 1 certification. Although Ryan, our trainer pushed us more than once to overcome “the urge to breath” we enjoyed each in water sessions. And we got addicted to going deep.
The food at the resort became boring after the first two days. We always had to choose from the same menu, and portions for lunch were not big enough for our hungry stomachs after being in the water. Our accommodation a tree house, which was more a regular bure (the Fijian word for a wood and straw hut) on low poles was small but sufficient. The only drawback was the location right behind the bar and not far away from the generator. Therefore we could not fall asleep early and if the wind blows from the wrong direction we smelled the diesel exhausts. Not all staff was very motivated with a view exception. Filo, one of the trainees, did an exceptional job taking care of our concerns and issues. She was in her assessment time, and we cross our fingers that she masters this successfully.
After we returned to Nadi, we went out for a whole day of eating. We had to overcome the austerity of the last days before we head further east to cross the dateline.