Like so much of this trip, our time in Fiji was abruptly planned. The first part was spent on Denaru island, near Nadi, as we had a timeshare there. It was a nice resort, but was essentially isolated from actual Fiji. Laura described some of our time here in her Fiji article. I want to focus on the second half of our time in Fiji, at Blue Lagoon Beach resort.
We agonized for a couple of days over which of the many island resorts we would choose. The prospect of a multi-hour boat trip had us a bit worried after the outbound roughness of our travel to Heron Island (which I managed without seasickness pills, but only just). But, after comparing the reviews and consulting some folks who had returned from the islands, we settled on Blue Lagoon Beach Resort. It was a great pick.
The boat trip out to the Yasawa Islands turned out to be beautiful. The boat stops at, or passes by, all of the resorts we had considered, so we got a chance to at least glance at the road not taken.
I don't think we could have gone far wrong with any of them, but, as many folks had said (mostly locals), as the boat got further up the Yasawas, the water kept getting more alluring.
Though not nearly as famous as the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji has an extensive reef system, and the Yasawas are both volcanic and coral. This made for interesting approaches to the resorts.
Blue Lagoon is on Nacula, which hosts two other resorts, and three small native villages. The channel leading through the reef to the resort landing proved to host the best snorkeling I've ever done, allowing for completely independent enjoyment of the water at any time.
One of the reasons we chose Blue Lagoon was, frankly, price. We were able to get a family villa, which was about half the price of the two rooms we would have needed at most other resorts.
We were initially worried about the required daily meal plan, but that was addressed by the very first lunch. Throughout our time at Blue Lagoon, the food was universally excellent, fresh, and copious.
I didn't wear shoes for three days.
The dive operation was great, and for the first time, I joined Naomi and Keegan in eschewing the wet suit. The visibility wasn't the greatest, but it was great to see healthy coral and abundant sea life including white tipped reef sharks, turtles, eagle and sting rays, and juvenile scorpion fish. I was particularly struck by the abundance of bright neon lime green shield coral, which seemed to be in small amounts everywhere.
The staff at Blue Lagoon were super friendly and helpful, and genuinely interested in us, especially once they heard about the extent of our travels. I joined the nightly Kava ceremony and became friends with one of the leaders. Kava has an interesting calming effect, mainly making your lips numb. But, I got the idea that drinking more Kava might have other impacts, based on the way the Kava ceremony turned into an acoustic instrument jam each night (except Sunday). It was great to see the staff having fun with each other, singing in their native language, and making music, not as a show, but as a natural background for our dinner, and a celebration for them.
The staff also organized Saturday's "party night", where Laura and Keegan managed to place third in an exhausting game of "Piggy, Lagoon, King" before being taught the "Bula dance".
Between diving, snorkeling, doing laps in the pool, exploring the far ends of the beach, appreciating the truly excellent food, and hiking to the top of the island, four days went by all too quickly. The Yasawas are special, and Blue Lagoon is a place I would love to come back to.
I miss the camraderie of the Kava ceremony, and wish I had been quicker to pull out my travel guitar, as I was all ready to join in on our last night there, but there was no jam on Sundays. The acoustic guitar circle reminded me of our special group of friends at both Sinclair Island and the Lostine Trout Farm. It was great to feel that energy, and to see the friendships between the staff.