Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1MB Travels: Fiji: Adventure Flashpacking: Day 2: Blue Lagoon Coral Dive, Lovo and Meke Dance

With Fiji being 20 hours ahead of LA, jetlag really wasn't an issue. We woke up ready for adventure on our second day, to a gorgeous view and cooling ocean breeze...

...it's no wonder Fijians are said to be the happiest people on earth - they get to wake up to this.
Stopping by the activities desk, you can sign up for one of three dives per day, and the resort provides all of the equipment you need.  We could choose from 9am, 11am or 1pm. Based on the divemaster's descriptions, we went for the 11am - for more balance of coral and fish - even though that meant missing the Fijian bracelet weaving class (I know, rough life).

But first things first: breakfast on the beach!

That the only tweeting came from actual birds; the soft rustling of palm branches swaying in the ocean breeze, to the rhythm of island time: this was the very definition of serenity, and paradise. 
Buffet tables set up by the pool (yep, there is one, for those who for whatever reason don't want to take the few steps into the crystal clear ocean) offered food to please every international traveler. There were the basics: eggs, fruit, toast, juice, and hot stations where you can get omelets or crepes made to order.

We were excited to try the Fijian coconut filled 'pancakes' that were more like giant, sweet, chewy empanadas, and topoi (doughy chewy bread made with coconut cream).  And, raw coconut shards (though, I think I much prefer the tender meat from young coconuts).

While resting on a lounger after the ultra-strenuous morning, a random puppy came up out of nowhere and lay down next to me, quiet but for the sound of gentle breathing - and turned his head to watch and listen to waves washing ashore in such a way as if to say "do this with me". 

It lasted just a few minutes - but that turned out to be one of my favorite, most randomly magical moments, for this often over-thinking, over-planning OCDer while in Fiji.

Since we had a bit of a wait until our dive, and to ward off food coma, we took a hike up the beach.  When we pulled up to the island by speedboat on Day 1, I'd noticed a large tree that looked different from the others, and seemed to form a canopy over a recess in the rainforest-like greenery.  We decided to hike that way to explore - and Random Puppy came along, leading the way. 

Turns out the recessed tree was not the hidden gateway to some secret lost indigenous village, nor a cover for the TARDIS, but simply a place that naturally formed to provide shade to small animals.  But it was a lovely hike nonetheless, with frequent breaks to dip in the water for relief from scorching heat.  I wondered what life would be like, as a puppy in paradise, with fresh supplies of guests to adore him daily - and free run of the place.

Arriving back just in time for the dive meet up - we took a 10 minute boat ride out to the site. 

The original location was to be Tom's Thumb - but due to rough waters, we moved to the Cabbage Patch instead - where we saw giant coral formations in the shape of cabbage blossoms!

I got to give my new SeaLife MicroHD+ underwater camera a test drive, before the big shark dive later on in the week (wouldn't want to be fumbling with buttons while they swirled around us!) - excuse the quality of video - I was and am still learning how to use it!

To be honest, I had envisioned giant schools of fish in every direction - but I think that would be more over at the Rainbow Reef by Vanau Levu / Taveuni islands - which I hope to get a chance to visit next time.

We definitely burned off enough energy during the dive to justify wolfing down lunch!

There was Beef Curry with pampadam and naan.

And the Fijian interpretation of 'Thai chicken soup with rice noodles' and vegetables.  All very fresh and tasty.

I love that the hardest decision we have to make while at Blue Lagoon, is whether to hammock or snorkel.  Remembering the minibar at the last minute, we raided it for Fijian beer to enjoy on the loungers.
Despite 'Fiji time', days seem to pass by far too quickly. 

Before we knew it, it was time for Lovo and Meke night. 

The resort staff puts together an intimate feast of Fijian fare including roast pork and whole black snapper, kokoda (ceviche in coconut cream), ota & chickpea salad, taro and more served buffet style.

But first, a dance - Meke!  In keeping with the intimate, cozy family-run vibe of the resort, the meke dance presentation was not elaborate either, it wasn't polished and professional, but that's what was endearing about it: it was the staff of the resort and their families from the local village, just giving us a glimpse of their culture and celebratory song and dance.

And it was full audience participation too - they had everyone up on their feet and doing a sort of Conga line around the pool!

With the communal tables, set dining hours and engaging activities, you get to meet a lot of fellow travelers from all around the world.  We met some amazing people from Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia - from their twenties on up.

We closed out Day 2 with a fire dance, a bonfire on the beach, and that game where you stick a piece of paper to your forehead with a famous person written on it - and you can only use yes/no questions to try to glean from those around you, clues to figure out who you are. A fun game to play at the bar, on the beach, by the bonfire.

All I could think was:  please don't make me leave.



Blue Lagoon Beach Resort
Nacula Island, Yasawas
Ph: +64 3 442 9998
Website: beachresort.com.fj

Day 2 costs breakdown:
  • 1-tank Dive:  $120 Fiji per person (~$60 USD, 20% tax already included)
  • Beachfront Bure: $577 USD for two nights, total prepaid via Agoda (~$288.50 per night tax included)
  • Mandatory meal plan: $99 Fiji per person (~$49.50 USD pp / day, 20% tax already included) 
  • Beer (included with free in-room minibar): $0
  • Total: ~$254 USD per person

(See my recaps for Day 1 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, and Day 5 here)

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