Living The Island Life!

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Days 203-206 – Friday-Monday November 9-12, 2007 – Yasawa Islands, Fiji

When we booked our passage to the Yasawa Islands on Thursday, they informed us that the shuttle to the docks wouldn’t come into town to pick us up at our hostel.  Given this fact, we had two options.  We could take a $2 taxi ride to another hostel just outside of town or a $20 taxi down to the docks. Of course we chose to catch the shuttle outside of the Sunseekers Hostel on the edge of town.  We arrived at Sunseekers a bit early and the manager Pa welcomed us inside so we wouldn’t have to wait on the curve.  She also gave us a tour and provided us with coffee and tea at no charge.  Her friendliness and hospitality were wonderful and this led us to make a decision to stay at Sunseekers when we returned to the mainland.

On the mainland, we only booked passage directly to our resort and one night there.  A popular thing to do in the Yasawas is island hop and many people get a pass to visit four or five different resorts in a week.  After finding out that no pass was available for Shawn Reece and how much transport between the islands would cost, we decided to severely limit our island hopping.  Given our state of fatigue at the time, we weren’t in the mood to move around very much anyway.  The passage one way to the island of Waya where our resort was cost us $225FJD or around $150 USD and each transfer to a different island would cost $50FJD with us paying the same $225FJD to return to the mainland.  Going out to Waya, we weren’t sure if we would transfer at all, but decided to leave everything open.  Flexibility seems to be the name of the game for us.

The Yasawa Flyer is a modern catamaran that sails up and down the Yasawa Island chain once each day, leaving at 8:30am and returning to the mainland at 6pm in the evening.  It serves all of the resorts along the way and a stream of people hop off and on switching islands.  One of the first islands we reached on the way out was South Sea Island, which looked like something from a movie.  It is a small sandy island, just big enough to hold a few palm trees and a couple of buildings.  It really looks as if the island could be swallowed up by the ocean at any time.

Small Island near Fiji on our way to YasawaAfter two hours and about 10 islands, we arrived at Adi’s Place on the island of Waya.  The Yasawa Flyer doesn’t dock with land, instead each resort sends out a small boat to transfer guests to shore. The transfer between boats was rather simple and in just under five minutes we were disembarking in the shallow water just off of shore.  Once at the resort, we sat down on the deck staring at the beautiful water for a couple of minutes before being shown to our room.  Our first impression of this place was much as expected and it was clear that life in Adi’s Place would be very simple.

After settling into our room, we ventured back outside to meet some of the other guests at the “resort”.  Among them were two British couples and four Americans traveling together on holiday.  It didn’t take long for me to engage Richard and Linda, two of the Americans in conversation.  Much of the first day and night were spent lying in the hammock and staring out at the big blue sea.  I also did a great deal of talking as well.  It has been a while since I have just stopped and enjoyed a good conversation.  The entire day we also pondered the fact that we were sitting on a tiny island somewhere in the middle of the South Pacific.  How cool!

The island of Waya is one of the biggest in the Yasawas and is quite picturesque.  Waya is home to four native villages and a modern school funded by the European Union.  Adi’s Place is located between the school and one of the villages.  During the day, a constant stream of Fijian children walked by the resort on their way to and from school, all of them being friendly and greeting us with Bula (hello) as they walked by.

On our first afternoon at the resort, Richard and Linda insisted that we use their snorkeling equipment to see a reef just off of the island.   Jasmine was initially a little shy, but after a little arm twisting she went out with me, but swam back after ten minutes when she saw a drop off and freaked out.  During Jasmine’s brief stint out, Richard and Linda were gracious enough to keep an eye on Shawn Reece, as there wasn’t any children’s equipment available for him to use.  I ended up staying out snorkeling for around an hour because of the size of the reef and amount of fish that I encountered.  It was the best snorkeling experience I have had so far.

All of the resorts in the Yasawas include three meals in their price.  There really isn’t any other option, since the islands are so isolated and there just isn’t anything else around.  For our first night in Adi’s Place we paid $130FJD to the travel agent, but were able to negotiate down to $100FJD per night for the next three nights.  While we were upset about getting overcharged at the travel agent on the mainland, we met several other people over the next few days who booked everything in advance and overpaid for all of it.  Hearing this made us feel a little better and led us to acknowledge that perhaps the last six months of travel have taught us a few things.

On Saturday, Richard and Linda left for another resort and one of the British couples also departed.  This turned out to be a theme, as for the next three nights we saw several couples come and go, but one was of particular interest.  We met a Finnish anthropologist who is living with a Fijian family in a mainland village for a year.  He has already been in the village for six months and his wife came from Europe, so they decided to take a small holiday out on the Yasawas.  He has been studying the culture first hand and had some interesting facts to convey to us.  Anthropologists are among my favorite people to talk to, as I love to talk and learn about different cultures.

Much of Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent swimming and hiking around the island.  Of course, we also spent a fair amount of time lying on the hammock and doing Shawn Reece’s school work.  On a couple of occasions we made our way into the village to visit the local store for provisions and on one occasion we headed over to the school, where Shawn Reece found a few kids climbing up a tree and joined in.  Life on the islands seems to be care free.  I have a hard time arguing against such a life, as the locals seem to be extremely happy even given their very limited means.

By Monday we were getting bored with Adi’s Place and decided to hike to the other side of the island to check out a different resort.  We figured that transferring resorts on the same island would save us money, by allowing us to avoid the $50FJD per person boat fare.  The hike across the island took almost an hour and a half along the coast as we had to climb and hike over an almost endless amount of rocks.  Since we had to make it there and back before high tide, we decided to turn the whole endeavor into a race.  All along the way, we saw royal blue starfish in the shallow water.  Shawn Reece was excited every time we saw another one.

Upon arriving on the other side of the island, we paid a visit to the Sunset Waya resort and liked what we saw.  After agreeing on a price, we arranged for them to pick us up in their boat on Tuesday morning.  The transfer by boat only cost us $10FJD and the room was a bit more expensive at $120FJD, but the place was a lot nicer.  On Monday night, we settled in for our last meal at Adi’s Place and said goodbye to the other guests.  We couldn’t wait to get over to the other side of the island!

The Coomer Family


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