The Yasawas islands comprise an archipelago running up the north west coast of the main island (Viti Levu) for a hundred miles. In the last three years lots of new ‘resorts’ (remember, 3 huts and a kitchen!) have been built, as a result of a daily catamaran service that covers the chain. It means that its much easier for backpackers to get out to their accommodation, with a 2-4 hour air-conditioned journey in a big boat, rather than 8 hours in an open fishing boat. Each of the resorts have their own qualities – with a mix of good or bad beaches, good or bad snorkelling, good or bad food, friendly or unfriendly staff, and either a ‘party spirit’ or quieter. We’d had some recommendations from people that had been to Fiji in the past – mainly about which places to avoid – so we weren’t setting off blind. Although travelling without the trusty assistance of a guide book makes me feel a little bit naked!
The coach for the catamaran picked us up at 8 o’clock, and dropped us at the marina, ready to catch the luxurious Awesome Adventures Catamaran. It was dead easy, and that’s where the comparisons to Asia had to end. Our journey lasted an hour and a half, dropping passengers off at various islands on the route (South Sea Island, in the picture above, was the ‘perfect’ image of a tropical island – a little sandy atoll sitting in the middle of the deep blue sea). Eventually our turn came to transfer, as we jumped into a small, bobbing aluminium fishing boat from the back deck of the huge catamaran. Both girls enjoyed the moment, but we were a bit nervous for them.
The boat took us into Bayside Resort on Waiai island, which turned out to be empty of all other guests. The ‘resort’ consisted of 3 bures (traditional thatched cottages with woven bamboo walls). One had a double bed, one was the dormitory with 10 bunk beds, and the other (ours) was a ‘split’ bure, with a small divide between two separate rooms. Because it was empty, we were given the two sides, even though we’d only paid enough for one, so the girls got their own ‘room’ with a double bed, and we got a little bit of seclusion with our own room. Our room had a double bed, a mosquito net, and that’s it – no table or chairs to put anything onto, and no shelves – but we did find a couple of nails in the wail that we could hang our towels on. The girls turned out to have chosen the room with a chair, and an extra single bed, so they immediately set to laying out all of their toys (we’ve now got a small collection of Happy Meal toys, that they’re going to give away to children on the island).
The toilet block was set apart from the bures, with a separate ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ – posh eh! – and a lovely cold water shower. This was a side effect of something we found out pretty quickly – there’s no power on the islands. As the sunset at 6pm, they carried lanterns to each of the bures, which cast a dim light around – just enough to avoid bumping into things, but not enough to see what you’re doing. This is pretty basic living, probably more basic than anything we had in India, but it’s still pretty luxurious compared to the way the other islanders live. They don’t get the kind of food we were getting. At tea time we were served tea and toast, and then for dinner we had rice and a local curry. It was exactly the meals we’d been dreaming of throughout our trip in North America.