If you want to see the real Fiji, i.e. the one from the post cards, you have to get away from the mainland and head to the surrounding islands. We took the trip to Mana Island, part of the Mamanuca chain to the west of the country, about an hour by boat from Nadi. The island is a small thin outcrop of sand & palm trees with two hills at either end. The sands are pure white and when the sun is shining and the tide is in it every bit resembles the picture of tropical paradise. We stayed in a place called Mana Lagoon, the cheapest place to stay on the island. It was very basic. The shower was little more than a cold water tap mounted to the wall. The electricity was only on for a few hours a day. The floor was constantly sandy & consequently everywhere else was sandy too. But this all gave the place a genuine feel. The hostel was located in the middle of a Fijian village which was essentially a scattering of corrugated metal structures reminiscent of a shanty town, with kids running around half naked.
But everything about the place just
seemed right. From the moment we got off the boat we were introduced to the place & staff with a welcome song. The staff were all really friendly & soon knew your name, greeting you in the morning seeming genuinely happy to see you. It was a nice touch you rarely get anywhere else.
One in particular, an old party animal named Bosco, assumed legendary status. He was the public face of Mana Lagoon, making most of the announcements & getting the party started in the evenings. The only time you didn’t see Bosco smiling was when he stepped out of his room first thing in the morning, undoubtedly hungover. A Jimi Hendrix look-alike equipped with crazy shades to hide his permanently bloodshot eyes & bandanna to hold back his black curls, there was never a night when he didn’t drink, & when Bosco drank he got the party started whether the party wanted to or not! Every night I spent on Mana Island, except the last night, I was drunk & even then a few of us had to hide in the dorm to escape being dragged up!
The initiation to Mana Lagoon was swift & brutal.
They purposely break down your self-conscious barriers by putting you in embarrassing situations. My first night I had to dance inside the “circle of shame” as we dubbed it, school disco style. We got off lucky, the night before everyone got into cross dressing. Not too bad you think? Bare in mind this is at the beginning of the night when everyone is stone cold sober, in front of 30+ strangers! In all fairness the method worked as no-one was afraid to integrate after that!
We got most pally with the other single lads there (most people we've met in Fiji have been couples) & Bosco nicknamed us the virgin boys of Mana Lagoon because of this. he never tired of bringing this up & introducing us to everyone, especially newcomers as such! More embarrassment!
During the daytime me & jake managed to do some diving which was great. Diving in Tropical waters is so much easier than diving in the UK with the clear viz and warm water. It might not be as dramatic as the things in the UK but the coral reefs offer superb amounts of life & a whole rainbow of colours, sometimes all on
one fish! On the first dive we saw two types of shark, the bigger of the two was about 2m long! the second was a nice little wreck dive - nowhere near the class of some of the British wrecks but nice nonetheless. inside it was a pair of Lion Fish which are pretty poisonous & i was wary about going close. The 3rd & 4th dives were on the same day & we again spectacular in the variation & vibrancy of the life we saw. the 1st of the day was a pinnacle of rock jutting about 15 m from the sea floor with a nice swimthrough at the bottom. The last dive was a reef where we again saw more sharks, a moray eel out in the open which bared it's large fangs when we came close, & i saw my first turtle although it was too far away to swim with. All in all some cracking dives.
when we weren't diving we were relaxing on the beach. It's a hard life sometimes! we loved Mana Lagoon so much we stayed for an extra night (although we were helped in this decision by Bosco refusing to let
us leave) making our stay 6 nights in total. when we did finally leave, the staff seemed upset which was nice, & i was sad to be leaving too but it was nice to get back to civilization. While i was on the island Michael Jackson died & it took me 4 days to find out! I really is THAT remote!
Tot: 2.6s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 11; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0236s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb