Published: April 1st 2012March 30th 2012
We took a very early morning flight from Adelaide through Melbourne to Nadi, Fiji. It was a very comfortable trip and we arrived to sunny Nadi at around 330pm. We were both very excited for our helicopter transfer to Matamanoa Island
. Matamanoa Island is a small, intimate and secluded Fiji Resort set in the beautiful Mamanuca Islands approximately 30 kilometres West of Nadi International Airport.
The Island boasts a volcanic cone jutting out of the turquoise/aqua blue waters of this unspoilt area of the Fiji Islands. Clad with dense bush and palm trees, the brilliance of the vegetation contrasts magnificently with the white curved sandy beach and pristine coral reefs.
Fiji is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbors are Vanuatu to the west, France's New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas, France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast and Tuvalu to the north.
The majority of Fiji's islands were formed through volcanic activity started around 150 million years ago. Today, some geothermal activity still occurs on the
islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. The country comprises an archipelago of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of circa 18,300 square kilometers (7,100 sq mi). The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 850,000. The former contains Suva, the capital and largest city. Most of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centers.
It took us only 15 minutes on the chopper ride to arrive at our island destination, the size of around two football fields and accommodated around 40 guests. The welcome was excellent with local songs being played and the staff making us feel immediately welcomed.
We first tried to sail a small catamaran but due to the lack of wind we had to switch over to a kayak and proceeded to kayak around the island, which only took 20 minutes – as I said earlier, this was just a very small piece of land in the middle of the ocean. After the kayak we went for a refreshing snorkel and attended the local cooking
demonstration. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the resort and planning our activities for the next day – most importantly a diving trip for Suzi and a snorkel for me at the site called “The West Wing”.
The next day we enjoyed our delicious breakfast and spent some time reading by the pool. To our surprise, at around noon people started gathering at the pool and the local MC started a “Spoon Diving” competition. The competition involved taking spoons out of a salt-water pool. Suzi won the women’s competition, collecting a record 13 spoons in a single breath, but I wasn’t able to get close to the winner of the men’s championship, especially that the MC himself entered and picked up 21 spoons (to my 9!). In the afternoon we took a trip out to the West Wing. That clearly was the best snorkeling experience of my life (as seen in the video that Suzi put together on our flight from Nadi to Seoul). The sun, colorful coral and massive amounts of fish were just breathtaking. Suzi also loved her first dive in more than a year and we headed back to the resort. We spent the afternoon
taking time to read by the pool and played a round of huge chess that the resort had outside of their reception.
The evening was quite fun as well as it turned out the resort had a cover band that could play almost every song we asked them to play (U2, Pearl Jam, Beach Boys, Hendrix, Bob Dylan etc.) and we made friends with a few Australians, two of them on their honeymoon. The evening capped off with us playing ping pong with the band members and breaking mid-game to go to the dive shop to watch Fiji win the Rugby World Cup against New Zealand. Quite an amazing experience, the locals went absolutely crazy!
The next morning we departed Matamanoa and connected to our 2 night sailing cruise with Captain Cook (see another blog post).
We came back to Matamanoa on Wednesday afternoon and were warmly welcomed back. We booked a massage to ‘ease’ ourselves into the last few days of our long trip; the view from our massage bure overlooking the ocean was breathtaking. We spent the afternoon relaxing, playing some chess and enjoying our dinner. We also decided to go to sleep early as
we had planned a romantic sunrise massage at 630AM followed by a diving / snorkeling trip.
However it turned out that this was the beginning of the weather conditions that were to hit Fiji over the next few days. (including the Fiji delay we already posted about – a side note, we are in Korea Air lounge in Seoul now and will be late to NYC by 40hs+ with a total trip of nearly 72hs / 3 days!!). We walked over to our sunrise massage in the midst of a tropical storm, but it still was an amazing experience listening to the ocean and the rain.
The morning helicopter transfer was cancelled and we started to worry that ours would be cancelled the next day causing us to miss the 955AM flight to Seoul. After debating we decided to leave early and take a 415PM helicopter flight back to the main island and stay near the airport. It was an adventure to fly back in the middle of 35 knot winds but we made it!
After checking into our hotel we shopped for Fiji souvenirs, enjoyed a beer at Hard Rock café and then had what we
were told is the best sushi in Fiji – The salmon sashimi was exceptional!
We set our alarm for 7AM and went to bed. Interestingly enough by 5AM part of our bed was wet from the leak in the balcony and the tropical storm raging outside (locals told us a day ago that Fiji barely missed a cyclone). We still went to the airport as Korean Air flight from Seoul somehow was able to land in this weather (the only flight that landed in Fiji that day) and we were told we will fly out today. Needless to say, after 14hs in the airport lounge we were told all hotel rooms are sold out, the road to more hotels is flooded, and that that we will have to sleep on the floor (so much for the business class experience we were looking forward to). In the end it worked out as airline reps did find a few rooms around 1030PM and we headed over to the hotel.
We are finally now in the last leg of the trip and will get on the new A380 aircraft in a few hours here to get us home at around
noon on Sunday, instead the originally planned 9pm on Friday (we missed our last night’s JFK connection by literally 15 minutes, which added additional 16hs of waiting). Here we come NYC!!
There are more photos below