We woke up this morning just as our flight landed in Nadi, the largest city in Fiji. After breakfast at a nearby hotel, our local guide Selva picked us up and took us to a local market, where we purchased some Fijian snacks and plenty of bottled water. Selva then drove us to Port Denaru to begin our sailing adventure!
Sailing aboard the Pelorus Jack
We met the crew of our sailboat, the 42 foot Pelorus Jack, at the port and boarded the boat for a 3-day, 2-night journey through the Mamanuca Islands. Our captain Charles took us to a reef off Monololo Island to snorkel. One by one we hopped off the side of the boat and splashed into the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean for the first time of many on this trip. The sea life on the reef was incredible – Greg found a stingray hiding underneath a rock, and Carolyn and Claire spotted a baby whitetip reef shark! After our snorkel, we had lunch on Monololo at the Plantation Island Resort. Lillie, Dan, and the sailboat crew got a beach volleyball game going after lunch. The whole group took a quick dip in the bay to cool off, then it was off to Mana Island, our home for the next 2 nights. As we sailed towards Mana, the crew got their guitars and bongos for a sunset sing-a-long. We sang some traditional Fijian songs as well as some American classics. Isabella joined in on guitar for Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” and Abe played the bongos for a rowdy rendition of “Sweet Caroline.” The boat docked at Ratu Kini’s resort on Mana, a diving and fishing hostel next to the island’s main village. Greg and Paige made friends with a local girl named Vika who took us on a tour of the island’s schoolhouse after another volleyball game with the local kids. Sadie, our prolific photographer, found a baby goat wandering the village and took some adorable pictures with him. After Tiffany (our leader of the day) led us in an evening circle, we all went to bed, exhausted but happy to be falling asleep in such a beautiful corner of the world.
Hermit Crabs, Coconuts, and Castaway
After a breakfast of fresh fruit grown right on the island, we returned to the Pelorus Jack for a sail to Monoriki, the island where Tom Hanks’s Castaway was filmed. After another snorkel, the crew showed us how to crack open coconuts to drink the milk inside. We all swam back to the boat and sailed to a sandbar in the middle of the bay, where we cooked a fish we had caught earlier over an open fire. After another evening jam session on the boat, we arrived back at our hostel at Ratu Kini’s on Mana. Sam and Ili, the activities directors for the hostel, led us on a hike up into the hills. The view from the highest point of the island was spectacular – you could see the village and beach below and the entire Mamanuca island group stretching out across the sea. After dinner, we all went to the beach to watch the International Hermit Crab Race, where everyone bet on which hermit crab would crawl to the outside of the circle first. The Ratu Kini’s staff taught us the Bula Bula, a traditional Fijian dance that Juliana and Abe got really into. Our last activity before evening circle and bed was a limbo contest, where Carson finished second to a girl from Denmark.
Sand and Sunrises
Abe, Lillie, Juliana, Carson, and Isabella got up early and hiked up the hill with Will to watch the sunrise over the ocean. After breakfast, we said vinaka (Fijian for goodbye) to Ratu Kini’s and Mana Island and headed back to Port Denaru. After lunch, snorkeling, and volleyball at Beachcomber Island we had a final sing-a-long on the boat. The crew sang us a traditional Fijian farewell song before we disembarked. We were sad to leave the Pelorus Jack and its wonderful crew behind, but excited to start our next adventure tomorrow – community service in the highlands village of Wainadiro!