Cruising the Southern Yasawas - Fiji
After knocking off early, I headed to Kerikeri airport to catch my flight to Auckland to connect with Air Fiji to Nadi. A little more than three hours later, I'm clearing customs and can already hear the teasing strains of a guitar in the distance. As I hit the arrivals hall, I feel myself start to relax.... the guitars are being strummed, the local Fijians are singing, and every one greets me with a big loud BULA! and even bigger smile! And even though the transfer to the hotel is a little late, the roads dreadful and no one in any sort of hurry, I smiled to myself as I adjusted to Fiji Time.
I was on holiday at last in one of the happiest places on earth!Captain Cook Cruises... here I come!
The next day dawned bright and beautiful, and after a leisurely breakfast, I headed to Denerau Marina to check in for my 3 night Southern Yasawa cruise with Captain Cook Cruises. As I board, I hear the guitars playing again but this time I'm handed a refreshing drink too.... I could get used to this lifestyle!
The following three days are GLORIOUS and spent cruising around the pristine islands of Waya, Naviti & Viwa in the Southern Yasawas where the beaches are beautiful, the water is clear and the coral reefs & fishlife stunning! Oh yeah, and let's not forget to mention that it's 28 degrees in the afternoon!!
I went snorkelling, fishing, swimming, visited a local village and school, took part in a Sevusevu ceremony* (I didn’t look as daunting as the King of the visiting party though!), had a Meke feast*, drank Kava* and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The food was good and plentiful on the ship, the cabin was fine and the facilities were excellent.
What really made this trip special though was the crew on board. All local Fijians, they were absolutely fantastic and really knew how to look after you with small touches like greeting you by your first name after only one meeting!!
Sadly though, all good things must come to an end and so to the familiar sounds of Isa Lei on the guitar, we made our way back to Denerau.
I disembarked at 9.00am on the Tuesday morning and was back in Kerikeri by 5 pm. It was only a quick trip away but long enough to refresh body and mind..... it's just a pity I can't go every weekend!!!
Check out our Fiji deal pages here, we've got some great options for this part of the world but my pick would be a cruise... it will both surprise and delight you.Say what?
* Sevusevu is an important ritual in Fijian culture and is a ceremonial offering of kava. If a relative or stranger (including yourself) enters a village, he or she must arrive with the sevusevu (gift of kava). If you are visiting on a tour, your guide will be the person to present the gift to the chief or host. The presenter will give a short speech telling why you have come. The host will invite you to join him for kava – this is traditionally the way to make a stranger feel part of the family, so expect some small talk as well as kava. Usually someone takes responsibility for preparing the yaqona (kava) and another to serve it. Guests and the host sit in a circle on woven mats for the ceremony and the chief or host always has the first shell. Just follow the ceremony and enjoy.
* Meke is a traditional way of telling stories through song and dance. It could be a war dance or a love story – either way it is colourful and a pleasure to watch, although compared to Tahiti and the Cook Islands, this might seem a tad tamer.
* Kava is a legal opiate that comes from grating or grinding the root of the plant. There is a charming ceremony that goes with kava drinking in Fiji (hand-clapping before and after a shell) and it should be swilled down in one motion, simply because it tastes pretty ordinary. It is a great stress reliever and is useful in healing urinary tract infections and stomach ailments. Dom't go crazy though, you'll soon feel the effect and once your lips become numb, that's a good place to be. Kava drinking in resorts is considered a fun activity and no one minds if you decline but if you go to a village and are invited to take kava (especially with the Chief) it is considered impolite not to. It will also be served in order of status – so the Chief will drink first.