Where we last picked off, we were in Bavu village, saying farewells to families with whom we lived with for a month while we helped their children with their education and sports.
Where the last 5 snippets of Fiji were about life in a Fijian village, this last one is life on a literal island paradise.
We had our R&R on Robinson Crusoe Island Resort, which was a private island converted into a resort. The jetty from where we took a boat to the island is about 45 minutes drive from Nadi, surrounded by rows and rows of mangrove trees.
A boat ride out into the Pacific is uneventful, the view what you’d expect, until you see the island in the distance. The moment the island in the distance grows to the size of your hand, there’s music to be heard. Such is the legendary degree of Fijian hospitality.
With the boat captain, we are greeted with a loud “BULA!!” from the shore, and likewise we responded. The boat parks on the soft, white sand, and from there we step onto a literal island paradise, greeted by a boisterous, warm welcoming band.
An in-house swimming pool, a bar, and a Jacuzzi greet you as you make your way to the check-in desk. We were booked into a dormitory fit for 24, and boy did they think of it all. Mosquito nets covering the windows, a tub of water and a mat to wash and dry your feet after all the sand, and a nice, naturally ventilated dorm made it great, even better when shared with your mates.
Just right outside the bar lies a little makeshift counter, where you can grab your snorkel gear for free (you just have to return it at the end of the day). Next to this makeshift counter lies a board where the daily activities are listed, ranging from snorkel sessions to hermit crab races to turtle-spotting and booze cruises. Along the beach, chairs with buoyant cushions can be found (my friends nicked them and took them out to sea), but the best part is the line of kayaks, pedals, and life-jackets lying by, ready for the bold to take them out for a spin.
Walking around the island on foot takes 20 minutes, but however you’d have to be extremely stubborn to kayak all the way around the island. Just north of the island lies a massive seaweed bank in knee-deep water, making it almost impossible to kayak around the island during low tide. However, the adventurous always find alternative to have fun. Personally, after being frustrated by the seaweed bank, I kayaked out to open water and settled next to a fishing boat, about 400 meters from shore. With a high-tech set-up similar to what I used in the lake and fish guts for bait, it wasn’t long till two fish lay on top of my kayak.
In the afternoon, a loud announcement heralds the snorkelling expedition. People who already gathered their gear rush to the boat, where we are taken to a small reef about a good kilometer or two from the island itself.
While the corals themselves may not be as saturated as they are (due to red light refraction), a closer look guarantees an occasional surprise. Be it hermit crabs, small cones, little stingrays or derpy-looking fish, they never cease to amaze. (WHY ISN’T MY PHONE WATERPROOF Q.Q)
Late afternoons are often for rest and relaxation, but occasionally the locals do invite us to join their craft session, making little bracelets with tribal patterns out of old coconut shells.
In the evening, the highlight is the booze cruise. Place your orders before 4 pm, and gather by the beach at 6, pick your DJ and dance away to great music while enjoying the quality Fijian sunset.
Nighttime has either one of two events, a small, quiet but cozy bonfire by the beach (which was held on our first night); or an all-out Meke session with LOTS of fire-dancing.
Naturally, I got wasted by the beach and slept in the hammock for the entire night (windy, but not as cold as you’d imagine). But ‘camping out’ on the beach gave me another opportunity to witness another wonder. 6 am during July is the time to go for it, and a nice, slow southwards stroll along the beach to the edge of the island gives way to a sight of the open sea, and with it the priceless Fijian sunrise.
I truly felt alone, in a whole different world, with no cares or worries, no sadness or notion that farewell lay around the corner. Just me, the empty beach, and the rising sun, all stuck in those timeless moments.
Farewell to my foster family in Bavu was only two days ago, and today (22nd July) I had to return to Edinburgh. I’ll miss these people, who’ve become sort of second-family to me. And as I step onto the departing boat at 9 pm, leaving fellow volunteers behind me, I leave to the chant of TSUNAMI!! TSUNAMI!! TSUNAMI!!, knowing that somehow, this magical place took 21 strangers and bonded them together, leaving nothing but feels and memories.
Two farewells in two days is a harsh reminder life is fleeting, so enjoy it and treasure the people around you. I miss you guys.
For those of you who are curious and wanna plan a trip to Fiji, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Robinson Crusoe island as your perfect getaway destination. You guys can check out the island here.