Week 35: Mantaray Island and Nadi, Fiji

Day 8: After checking out and having breakfast, our boat arrived to take us to the next island. This was a small tin boat that’s also used to take guests snorkelling so a journey all the way to Mantaray Island, part of the Yasawa Island group, was going to be interesting. However, after a few minutes on the tin boat we approached a much larger ferry and pulled up along side it. We then had to climb over the side of the tin boat to get into the ferry, an interesting experience to say the least. The ferry journey took a few hours so we sat up on the top deck and enjoyed some beers in the sun. To get to Mantaray Island the tin boat process was repeated in reverse. Once we were safely back on dry land we were welcomed by the staff singing the Fijian welcome song. Each island had a ‘compulsory meal plan payment’ for food, and the cost at this island was FJ$94, meaning a total of FJ$282 for the 3 days we were there. After parting with our money we went to our dorm, another 32 bed (similar to the one in Nadi), then headed to lunch. The food was pretty good, with massive portions which we were all glad about after paying so much. Most people spent the afternoon sunbathing on the beach or on hammocks and soon it was time for dinner. Afterwards we went down to the bar for some more traditional Fijian dancing, since there was no other seats left we sat right at the front. This meant the dancers kept coming really close to us and of course we were picked out as volunteers to get involved in the dancing. After all that excitement we headed to bed. 

Day 9: we all got up early this morning for the activity the resort gets it’s name from; swimming with the mantarays! We waited around for an hour and still no mantarays had been spotted so we went for breakfast, then boarded the boat as some had now been spotted. The current in the water was unbelievably strong but mantarays swim against the current, so we were dropped off with our guide in the water just ahead of where they had been spotted and they swam right past us! This was an amazing experience and 100 times better than seeing a mantaray in an aquarium or something. It’s amazing how gracefully they move through the water and swim against the current so easily. After we got back from seeing the mantarays we went snorkelling from the resort’s beach. A few metres away from the beach the reef starts and the snorkelling was amazing! I would go as far as to say it was even better than the Great Barrier Reef, so many fish and so much colourful coral. We even saw an octopus! I was gutted I didn’t take my GoPro with me as its battery was flat after the mantaray swim. After snorkelling we sat in the sun for a while and dried off and it was soon time for lunch. The itinerary of free activities included a guided kayak that afternoon, but we were disappointed to be told it had been cancelled because it was low tide (which begs the question why schedule it for a time when the tide is always low, but anyway). Despite this, we were allowed to use the kayaks anyway, so we battled the current and went over to a small beach on the other side of the channel. We went for a swim then the girls lay in the sun (whilst being blasted by the sand because it was so windy-not so pleasant!), whilst the boys took it in turns playing a game throwing a tyre they found and trying to get it to land round a log they’d stood up (a desert island style ring toss if you will!). After our island adventure we had a few beers at the bar then headed to dinner. Bottles of sparkling rose wine cost only FJ$40, which turns out quite cheap between all of us, needless to say quite a lot of wine was drank that night! Entertainment at the bar that night included another crab race (sadly the stakes weren’t quite as high this time and the winner only got a free cocktail). Following a successful 6 person pyramid on the beach, we decided it would be a good idea to attempt a 10 person pyramid and roped in a few extra people. Sadly this pyramid wasn’t so successful and ended up with everyone in a pile on the floor-but you can’t say we didn’t try! 

Day 10: After all the wine everyone was feeling a bit fragile so we had a fairly lazy morning, then went snorkelling again just before lunch. After lunch we spent most of the afternoon chilling and napping on the beach. The showers we had access to only offered cold water and very low pressure, so when one of the couples in our group offered us to have a hot shower in their private beach villa shower, it would have been rude to refuse. We had a few beers on the private area outside their beach villa, then it started to rain (shock horror that’s not what I signed up for going to Fiji). We went for dinner soon after but the weather showed little signs of improving and most people soon headed to bed. 

Day 11: we got up this morning and packed up our bags after breakfast. We had to check out at 10 but our boat wasn’t due until 2pm. Necklace making was on the itinerary this morning, and we were making Mantaray necklaces out of coconut shells! First we had to draw the mantaray into the coconut, then one of the Fijian staff sawed the shapes out of the coconut. We then had to sand the mantarays, before attaching a string to make them into a necklace, dipping them into varnish then hanging them up to dry. After lunch it was time to leave, as usual we made the random tin boat trip to the ferry, we were safely aboard and settled on the top deck, which was slightly windier than before (and when I say slightly I mean a lot). A few hours later we arrived back in Nadi for our final night in Fiji. To celebrate we all put on our Fijian shirts and headed down to the bar for pizza and some drinks. 

Day 12: after packing up and having breakfast we spent our last few hours in Fiji soaking up as much sun as possible by the pool. Soon it was time to say goodbye and head our separate ways. 

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