The Pacific Islands are somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve had a fascination with their remoteness from home and the rest of the world and the way of life on these relaxed islands. When living in Australia I realised they were a lot closer than they had ever been before and therefore jumped at the chance to explore! We bought a Bula pass with Awesome Adventures Fiji which allowed us 10 days travel throughout the Yasawa Island Chain. We booked our accommodation all separately and made our way from Sydney to island time!
We arrived at Nadi International Airport early evening. We had booked a hostel airport transfer and it was made quick and easy by the friendly and helpful staff. We quickly learnt that everyone is friendly in Fiji and they always have time for a warm Bula! whilst walking past. We stayed at Bamboo Backpackers Beach resort for one night and we were really impressed with everything. It was one of the cheapest options in Nadi but we had a four bed dorm room to ourselves, with cosy beds and warm showers for $20 AUD for the night. We were up at 6am for an early breakfast and transfer to the marina to board the Yasawa Flyer to start our island hopping trip.
We were told to bring water with us from the mainland and each bought 6 with us. That, coupled with our rucksack, backpack and a tote bag for me, was quite a trek of luggage! We made it on board though and settled in for a rough ride to our first destination! Wayalailai Island is one of the first on the Yasawa Group and was our first port of call. We were greeted by the tender boat off the Flyer and were motored over to the island with only two other passengers. We walked through the local village and were brought to our resort, Wayalailai Eco Resort.
Our wonderful host Tai Lo sat us down and let us know the ins and outs of the resort and what we would be doing during our stay there. The weather was windy and rainy on our arrival and the wind stayed for the rest of the day, making it quite cold despite the humidity. We had a relaxing hour before lunch and read our books. Lunch was buffet style and filled us all up. After lunch we made some bracelets and crafts with local women from the village. I let the children help me pick out shells and beads for mine and made an anklet for myself and a bracelet for someone else.
I also bought one of the bracelets the women had made herself which had a baby sharks tooth in it. The weather cleared up for around 30 minutes in which we took a walk along the beach. The views were beautiful and the blue of the sea started to become clear, it all looked stunning! The weather then turned again and the wind picked up. We attempted to lie in hammocks on the beach but the wind was too much for us and we turned in again. After a quick siesta and afternoon tea we went back to the room to relax, which is what I’m doing right now. I feel instantly more relaxed here and dis-attached from any worries or the busy lifestyle we all live in the Western world. Here time goes by slowly and you can sit and think without distraction. In a way I feel at a loss for what to do with myself and on the other hand I’m really enjoying that there's nothing to do.
That evening we ate another lovely meal, and joined in on a cava welcome ceremony. Cava is a popular drink drank by nearly all Fijians and is mildly intoxicating. It is made from the powered root of the cava plant and is used strictly only in cava ceremonies. One man must always sit behind the cava bowl as to not allow bad spirits to take any cava. The bowl must all be drank as well to insure that bad spirits do not drink the rest.
We were offered a small bowl of cava which you accept after a clap and a call of Bula. After you drink the cava you must clap three times. It tastes like maybe potato water or the water of some other root vegetable. Not particularly tasty but drank in small portions it is ok. As we drank we sang songs with the locals and relaxed. It was a great first night on the island. Cava is a depressant just like alcohol and makes you sleepy and relaxed. We all slept pretty well that night!
The next morning we swam with Sharks. We journeyed out to a reef a boat ride away from the island and instantly saw our first shark! They were white tipped reef sharks and they were my first experience swimming with a proper shark that was bigger than an average fish! They swam right around us and came up to the surface, close enough to touch! We observed them for around an hour and then came back to shore. The weather had improved so we dipped into the water again off the shore and then swayed in hammocks until lunchtime. The relaxed Fijian way of life!
After lunch not much changed. We swam again, this time in much deeper waters as the tide had come up and repeated the morning chilled activities. In the evening, with the arrival of new visitors to the island, we had a formal greeting ceremony where the locals dressed in traditional straw skirts and lais for the men and longer dress for the women. We drank cava again with them and then had another delicious dinner. After our meal , the Wayalailai Staff performed traditional songs and dances for us which they had been practising for the upcoming Fiji Day.
It was all fantastic although the boys club dance needed some work, it seems dancing can be hard for men all around the world! That night there was a stunning thunderstorm with the loudest thunder I have ever heard. We woke up to little wind but the clouds were still out in force. Then, next morning with more rain coming down we relaxed with other guests who had come in the night before and played cards and other games.
After another fab lunch and after the skies had cleared, we took a walk through the local village with Malaya, a resident of Wayalailai. She took us to the village church, the chiefs house and past various homes. A loud Bula could be heard from every window we walked past! Malaya also showed us the tress and plants that can be used for treating various medicinal issues on the island. One plant could be used to heal cuts and bruises whilst another leaf was used to treat sprains. She also showed us the many uses of plants and trees and how they can help to cure ear aches, indigestion and even cancer. Malaya also gave us each a frangipani to place by our ear, left if you are single and right if you are taken. These are what all the women of the village wore each day.
After our walk we went for a swim and once again were amazed at how stunning the water was, it was so clear! After a bit more relaxing we got ready to really exert ourselves by climbing up to the summit of the island. We were told it was quite a trek and to be ready for mud but with our guide Matthew we weren’t too worried! It was a beautiful hike up and involved a lot of scrambling and climbing. We went past where the original village once stood which was high up on the mountain in order to watch out for invaders. The summit was absolutely stunning with views of the resort, the opposite island and the surrounding islands. It was just amazing. Matthew showed us his death defying stunts and we whistled down to the resort which called back!
Going down was more fun than the way up with lots of slipping and sliding. It was all made fun by good company and a great guide who was so informed but also just a good laugh. We got down just in time for dinner and got dessert this evening of red velvet cake! We were all sweaty and hot from the hike and couldn’t wait to have a shower. After freshening up we went back to the dining area and spent the evening chatting and drinking.
The next morning we woke up bright and early for the sunrise which was beautiful with red and pink stretched across the sky. We sadly checked out at 10.30am but not before a farewell song from the staff and another delicious breakfast. We were so sad to say goodbye to Wayalailai with its beautiful people and laid back atmosphere. It was the true epitome of Island time and we all felt so sad to leave.
Wayalailai has a place in all of our hearts and I hope to return. I don’t usually say that to many places, but this island was truly special.