Coral View, Tavewa Island – Gold Coast Inn, Nanuya Lailai Island
Time to leave Coral View. I’m the only punter around here who is not on a Bula Pass (a 7-day catamaran pass) so I’m going to negotiate my own way to Nanuya Lailai, the island where Brooke Shields famously stepped out of the water and wooed half of the men on the planet in the film Blue Lagoon.
The lovely senior gentleman, Susa, comes over to me and tells me that he really likes that I am respecting the locals by wearing a Sulu. He also asks me to send greetings to his cousin, Sili, who lives on the small island I am travelling to today. I really like Susa. He’s one of those old school gentlemen that are becoming a dying breed. Susa tells me there are four communities on his island, which is just across the choppy strait from Tavewa. 343 people live in his village, which makes it pretty big by Fijian standards. At the end of each month all the islanders travel to each other’s villages to go to church. This is done as a mark of respect. When a full moon falls on the first week of the month, every single person on the island goes and stays in one of the villages where they all attend church in the mornings and the evenings for one whole week. Why? I ask him. Susu points to the heavens. We have a deal with him.
After telling me some fascinating stuff about his life, Susa joins the other staff to sing a goodbye song to those of us who are leaving today. My God these people know how to sing. It really is a perfect choral melody, which is made all the more memorable because Susa talks over the singing, explaining what the song’s words mean. Fortunately, I’ve got my phone at hand to record the song as an mp3 file. The beautiful singing nearly brings a tear to my eye.
As our speedboat manoeuvres its way through the coral I spot Susu waving from the window,
Goodbye Justin. Please come back.
Hope to see you after three years, Susu. Thank you Sir.
The sea is very rough today. And as I’m not on the Bula Pass I’m having to use a water taxi to get across the open sea to Nanuya Lailai Island. The water taxi is a tiny wooden speedboat, which instantly begins to get tossed around like it’s a paper cup when we hit the open seas. This is actually quite scary. The only other passenger is a Fijian lady from Suva, who works at Coral View. It is Ok you are a little scared. I am also scared today. First time I have been in the sea this rough.
That’s reassuring. At one point the sea is so choppy that the captain has to cut the engine. Wave after wave batters us, the tiny boat rocking from side to side as we struggle to stay afloat. I have been in a situation like this once before in the Caribbean. That was much more precarious to be honest. But just like then I find my hand is so tightly gripping the wooden plank that is my seat, holding on for dear life so as to speak, that when we do make it safely to calmer waters I can hardly unbend my fingers from their tightened, wet, salty grip.
I am greeted at Nanuya Lailai by a rather effeminate bloke of about 20. He’s got a hell of a mince to him but to be fair he’s a lot prettier than most of the Fijian women I’ve so far seen. As he shows me to my bure I offer him a handshake. My name is Justin. What is your name mate?
A limp hand, each finger painstakingly decorated with blue nail varnish, is cast in my direction.
Hi, my name is Wendy.
FFS, I need my best poker face not to react to that news.
Oh, nice one Wendy. Catch you later.
All I can think of is Maverick turning up here on his todd yesterday. Go to Nanuya Lailai. I told him. It’s reckoned to have the best beach. I’ll catch you there in a couple of days’ time.And I bet he ended up being the only one staying here. Yep, just him and a very pretty bloke who goes by the name of Wendy.
My motivation for staying here is the chance to hang out at one of the world’s ‘most beautiful beaches’. The resort that is built on the edge of the beach is way out of my price range but by staying here at Wendy’s, I can trek across the interior of the island and access Blue Lagoon through the back of a small Fijian village.
Previously on Lost.
The interior of the island is absolutely baking. Follow the path over the hill, past the hut by the vegetable garden, then follow the second track after the fallen tree and continue on past the place where all the butterflies are before taking the third right down through the forest and past the mango trees
Not only do I feel like I’m participating in an episode of Lost but I also appear to actually be lost.
After an hour, my skin now tanned darker than a Moroccan postcard seller, I do make it to Blue Lagoon. The resort has wi-Fi (the only place I’ve so far found in the Yasawas):
Michael (of George-Michael fame) emails to tell me he’s on his way to Tonga and got lucky with an Irish girl after the world cup final in Auckland.
Colonel Gadhafi is dead apparently. My limited edition Colonel Gadhafi t-shirt that my Finnish friend Petteri brought me back from Libya three years ago will be worth a fortune on eBay now. I might sell it and go to North Korea on holiday next year.
Polynesian Blue tell me they won’t give me a compassionate refund for my two no show travel partners. Terms and conditions, blah, blah, blah. It only took them 55 days to reply to my request. The airline is owned by Virgin. Wan##rs
And Francesco from Mendoza emails me to tell me he was on the internet and happened to discover and read my nice blog about his hotel. Thank you for your kind words Justin. No, thank you Francesco for being so kind and considerate to me and looking after me during my stay at your lovely hotel.
This resort is very understated. Nearby there are a couple of Fijian families living adjacent and one breathe away from one of the world’s finest beaches. I am amazed some greedy developer hasn’t kicked them off. I end up swimming and exchanging countless bulas with the two little boys and their baby sister. The boys have ingeniously made surf boards out of some old wood and plastic and are as happy as Larry. Can they possibly know how lucky they are to live here? Will they grow up dreaming of escape to New York, London and Brisbane? I really hope not.
The water is a kind of turquoise emerald colour. I’ve seen lakes this colour but never the sea. I swim around with the kids and hang around as long as I can, making time allowances for the sun going down and my return hike to the other side of the island.
Back at the beach bure, the sea is pounding against the coast tonight and the waves are almost encroaching onto this plot of land. This is either a bad case of island erosion – in which case this resort’s days are numbered – or the sea is particularly wild this windswept evening.