After my last night at Mantaray, I boarded the small boat that brought me and my luggage to the bigger catamaran in the deeper water. Every time the Fiji guys carried our heavy suitcases onto these small shaky boats and every time I was afraid they’d drop it in the water (they do get slightly wet on the boats and once they dropped another suitcase into the shallow water, so it’s probably smart not to leave the electronics in the suitcase). I already found it difficult getting on the boat with just my small backpack and they were carrying several suitcases and backpacks at once. 15min later, I and a group of British people, who would do the same journey as me hopped onto a smaller boat again and then waded the last meters through the shallow water to Korovou. We received a Bula welcome song and after checking in, were ready for lunch. Here, there was no meal selection. Everybody had to eat the same and no drinking water was provided either. With 6$ for 1.5l of water, this stay could become quite expensive…
After lunch, I attended a cooking lesson with some other familiar faces who had left Mantaray the day before me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to cook Kokonda at home too!
Before sunset, we walked to the private Honeymoon Beach. You’d have had to pay (they try to make money of everything here) but since my friends had already paid the day before, they let us pass. On this side, it was less windy and not so many corals right at the beginning of the water, so it was possible to swim.
The sunset was pretty and much warmer than from the tubes the other day. It was definitely worth to come over here.
After dinner, we walked to the neighbor resort. They had a bonfire at the beach and an open-air disco.
The next day, we hiked up to a hill, from where we had a beautiful view over the bay. After that, my friends boarded the boat to the next island and I spent the rest of the day reading, sleeping and drinking tea, since my stomach didn’t completely agree with something I had drunk or eaten. I wasn’t the only one… I guess that’s something you have to put up with if you visit remote places.
Luckily, I was fit enough to go on the 30min boat ride at 7am (before breakfast) the next morning to go snorkel with the manta rays. There was a chance that they weren’t even there since they’ve only been sighted again two days ago, after a weekly absence. But there they were! When they swam on the water surface, it looked as if two sharks were swimming next to each other. We were able to swim really close to them but it was impossible to keep up, since they were swimming in a channel against a current. I thought I was a good swimmer but no matter how much effort I made, I floated down stream. Luckily, the boat collected us again, dropped us off a little up the channel and we floated down, past the manta rays again.
The rest of the morning, I spent relaxing until it was time to board the boat to Safe Landing, my last island.
I thought it would be a two hour ride, so I was surprised when after about 1 hour they already said ‘passengers for Safe Landing, please identify your luggage and get ready for disembarking.’
We jumped into the small boat and were shipped to yet another beach. Here it really looked like in paradise with a watercolor of at least three different shades of blue.
Lunch was very small but at least they had table water again.
Afterwards, I did a boat and snorkel trip to the Blue Lagoon. The beach was nice and there were a lot of fish but the Mantaray house reef was prettier and somehow the water felt colder up here.
In the evening, we played a few social games with all the island guests but soon everybody retired to their Bure. Here the dorms were split up into several small houses, which was nice for a change.
The next morning, I hopped on Joe’s water taxi. It was a beautiful 45min ride past paradise beaches, to get to the Sawa i-lau caves.
We received diving googles and then climbed up the steps to the entrance of the caves. The first cave was a huge open dome that was filled with water. We jumped into the clear liquid. It felt a bit warmer than the ocean and was salty too. To get to the second cave, we had to dive through an underwater hole at the end of the first cave. This was a bit scary since we didn’t know where we would land and didn’t see anything because it was completely dark in the second cave. The guide went ahead and pointed a flash light towards us under water. So, we just had to dive towards the light and then surface. This was actually quite easy but once we were in the second cave, we were swimming in pitch black darkness, since the flash light was still under water. No idea how big the cave was and whether there might be any bats or spiders inside. Slowly, my eyes got used to the darkness and I at least could make out the walls. There even was a floating device, everybody was now holding on to, like in Titanic. Once everybody had reached the second cave, the guide swam ahead and we passed through a tunnel into another hall with an open chimney, where you could see the daylight at the top. Afterwards we swam back and dived back into the first cave. This was much easier, since the water was naturally lit up from the daylight and we saw where we had to go.
When the boys had enough of climbing and jumping off the walls, we climbed back into the warm sun light. It was kind of mandatory to look at the small market with self-made jewelry. After that, we enjoyed our return boat trip. There was a 5min delay due to the motor that suddenly stopped working and we were just sitting in a tin can in the middle of the ocean. Luckily, the driver could fix it right away.
During the remaining time in Safe Landing, I walked to two more lookouts. This is quite romantic between the high grass and all the palm trees. A lot of the time, I just spent reading in a hammock, enjoying the view. I had to make sure I finished my book, because I had seen the next one I wanted in the book exchange at the reception.
The food here was good but I was surprised about how many times we had Indian food on these islands.
My last evening finished with another Fiji buffet. They had an underground dirt oven in which they had cooked food all afternoon. The self-made bread was delicious!!!
After dinner, there was more Bula dancing and we participated in a Kava ceremony. The mud brown water tasted like soap and made my tongue feel numb. But I didn’t want to leave Fiji without having tried that, since everybody had been talking about it.
I don’t know whether it was due to that or something with the food but the next morning there were a lot of white faces walking around on the island, who have spent most of their night in the bathroom. I was ok but I was definitely glad to go back to the mainland today, where I at least would have a choice of different dishes and soon I’d be in the US, where I could find some kind of shop at every corner. I’m really not used to not being able to just go buy something when I’m hungry or thirsty or need something. Island life forces you to spend time with yourself and nature and the other people. It’s good to see that nobody cared about facebook for once 🙂
The boat trip back to Nadi was about 5 or 6 hours. It felt quite long and I’d have liked to jump out and spend a few more days on Mantaray Island.
Island life did have its charm, above all thanks to the nice Fijian people. Music and singing is a constant companion during the days and evenings and they all seem so happy and convinced of the dances and songs they do. Although they pretty much spend 24/7 together and go through the same routine week after week, they all seemed like very happy island families who gave their warmth to the tourists.
Back on the mainland, I realized that this was the first time I saw a car in 8 days and the only transport I had used during the past days was walking, swimming or a boat. For the last time, I had a really delicious fish dish for dinner at the beach and before going to bed, I almost cried in the shower because it was so nice to finally have a hot shower again.
The next day was beautiful but since I had to leave for the airport at noon, I didn’t go swimming anymore. My shuttle even arrived a little ahead of time!! Very much unlike Fiji time 🙂
The 10 hour flight felt long but at least we had tv screens in the back seat this time and the food was good too. Plus, something amazing happened! I travelled back in time and gained a whole day! I left Fiji at 3pm on 31. July and landed at LAX at 6.30am on 31. July. Possible with 19 hours of time difference and crossing the international date line.
I don’t know how it happened but somehow Oceania really came to an end. The next month I will spend exploring the North American west coast some more.