by travelephant | Aug 20, 2016 | Fiji
Situated off the coast of Viti Levu, close to the capital Nadi is one of the most picturesque island chains in the world. The various islands that make up the Yasawa chain offer something for every traveller, from budget dorm style accommodation to private resorts. So there are options for every traveller!
For an additional charge the resort also offers a trip out to Turtle Island, made famous as the setting for the movie ‘Blue Lagoon’. I’ve never seen the movie (nor intend to) but the sound of a boat ride and cave diving was too tempting. This is definitely worth doing. Swimming underwater through passageways and the eerie glow of the water in the dark are great fun. If you aren’t confident around water this might be one to skip – but for everyone else, jump on board.
The resort offers varying activities each evening to keep things interesting but other than the Turtle Island diving the resort doesn’t offer anything significantly different to other Fijian destinations. Whilst it is an amazing destination if you need to do more than relaxing and enjoying life on Fiji time then Nacula Island probably isn’t for you.
For my stay, I was at Nacula Island (the most distant of the resorts by ferry) and stayed at the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort. Nacula Island offers beautiful white sand beaches & crystal clear waters. Perfect for swimming, sunning and enjoying a drink or five. And the accommodation & facilities are spacious & modern.
First up, the ferry – it took a good 4 or 5 hours to reach Nacula Island from Denarau Port, Nadi and I can imagine the ride can be pretty hairy at times. For my trip the seas were relatively tame and there were more red faces than green. I took the Yasawa Flyer, you can get an idea of pricing here, some resorts include it but it is rather costly (http://www.awesomefiji.com/transfers/)
There is some amazing scenery as you head around the various islands and a great experience all round, especially getting opinions from other tourists who are finishing up their stays at other resorts. As an added safety precaution, I would put valuable items in a sealed bag of some sort – transferring from the ferry to the smaller dinghies to take you to your resort is a bit messy – you would prefer to err on the side of caution and not damage electronics & valuables.
The Blue Lagoon Resort is perfect for rest & relaxation, especially for couples. When I was here about 95% of holiday makers were couples, and a good portion of those were honeymooning. So if you’re a single traveller I might suggest trying one of the more party oriented islands.
The resort offers snorkelling and diving trips, however the snorkelling opportunities at the resort are limited. I tried along the resort beachfront to no avail. Once a week the staff offer a walk to the top of the island to take in the surrounding scenery – it is definitely worth doing if you can sign up for it. Not only is the scenery amazing but it also gives you the chance to burn off some of the calories from all the cocktails! The walk takes about 4 hours and gives some great photo opportunities.
by travelephant | Aug 20, 2016 | Fiji
Located a two hour drive from Nadi, the capital of Fiji, on the main island of Viti Levu. We stayed at Namuka Bay Resort during our time here – it is remote but it is perfect. The resort offers waterfront villas, all meals as a package and for all the beachfront, only has 15 or so rooms. Did I mention it is also VERY AFFORDABLE, our double villa cost about AU$600 for 8 nights. If you want to relax and unwind then this is the place for you.
The beachfront here forms a part of the aptly named ‘Coral Coast’, where the crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling. The water sits around 25 degrees for most of the year meaning you can walk out for a snorkel instead of a shower before breakfast.
The water here is very sheltered due to the reef about 100 metres offshore and is no more than 1.8 metres deep, so it is suitable for even the most uncertain swimmers.
And while I am on the topic of breakfast, Namuka Bays pricing can include all meals or just breakfast. Due to the isolation, I would advise everyone to take up the all meals, even if you plan to be absent for a few. The food was amazing & they offered varied menu, I can assure you that you will not need any snacks between meals.
If you aren’t content just exploring the seemingly unending reefs & coastline or relaxing then there are plenty of things to see and do in the area. Taxi’s are quite cheap and if you have a lot to do, you can hire one for a whole day for about AU$35.
Sigatoka has some great offerings as well. I did the jet boat safari but you can do it on quad bikes if you would prefer. I thoroughly enjoyed the jet boat ride and the scenery was excellent – make sure to pack a waterproof camera for the day (see here for their website).
I would also recommend checking out the Kula Eco Park to catch a glimpse of the wildlife you won’t normally encounter in your travels. It is a little bit dated in some areas but being able to handle turtles, snakes & lizards was great fun.
by travelephant | Aug 20, 2016 | Vanuatu
Port Vila is the capital and sits in the picturesque Vila Bay. I splurged a little for my time here and stayed in an overwater villa at the Holiday Inn. There are plenty of excellent options available for the budget conscious traveller though. The Holiday Inn is a only a few minutes from the centre of town but it is one of the best resorts I have spent time at. Private beaches, golf course, sailing & kayaking – you name it, it is probably on offer here.
If it is within your budget, and you’re planning on spending a good proportion of your time at the resort then I can’t recommend the overwater villas highly enough. Walking off your balcony into the clear, fish filled waters is a great way to start the new day.
If you want to see more of what Efate Island has to offer, there are many day tours of the island that take in all there is on offer. These were relatively cheap and made for a great day out. Seeing the native flora & fauna and checking out the beach locations around the island was great. Playing with the massive (but harmless) spiders not so great.
The rainforests are great to explore. Logging was never an industry here and some of the trees are hundreds of years old and the majority of the rainforest remains untouched aside from the roads & paths. The beach stops along the way are picturesque and the water is always warm!
One thing I would absolutely recommend you make time for in your stay is a day trip to Tanna Island. The islands volcano, Mount Yasur is still very much active and with laid back safety measures you can get real close to the bubbling lava. This was a once in a lifetime experience but you will need to be at least moderately fit to make the trip. And, unlike myself, make sure you wear footwear suitable for climbing up mountains – it’s only 15 minutes or so but it’s hard work! There are great photo opportunities for those who are willing to risk their safety. I will never forget our guide showing me a boulder halfway up the volcano and telling me that it wasn’t there last week…
But it really is a once in a lifetime experience. The volcano erupts on a minor scale every 5 minutes or so and a bigger one every half hour – of course nature is unpredictable and I am certainly no expert! Even the flight to & from Tanna Island is breathtaking – particularly the return leg – flying back over the Island and over the ocean into the sunset.
A short bus ride from Port Vila (about 10km) are the Mele Cascades. A series of waterfalls winding through the rainforest. It is a scenic 15 minute walk from the base to the top waterfall and once you are over the halfway mark you will start to be really rewarded for your hard work. Make sure you allow for half a day to see the cascades and enjoy your time there, it isn’t a place I would rush through – my number 1 recommendation for the Port Vila area.
Just some helpful tips if you decide to visit:
Be sure to wear footwear that has some grip in the wet as some places are quite slippery.
The entry fee is about AU$25 per person, so it isn’t cheap, but the money goes back to the local community. And try to pick a time to visit following some rain – the cascades are far more enjoyable when there is a good flow of water! And of course, don’t forget your swimwear – the water isn’t tropical but it is refreshing after the walk up.