A Bison Abroad| Dream Vacation in Fiji

If you’re ever traveling to Fiji, I highly recommend that you travel to the Yasawa Islands. These islands are a chain just north of the main island.

The first one is only 30 minutes from Nadi, one of the two cities that you can fly into. To get the most out of the Yasawa’s, it’s best to island hop. For me, it was easier to put the booking of the different islands and boat transportation into the hands of someone else. There are a few companies you can go through, and I chose Awesome Adventures Fiji. They have different packages and the one I chose was the six-night, four island tour.

The first day we took a big boat all the way to the furthest island out. The first island was about four hours from the main island and was called Nacula. I stayed at Oarsman’s and it was run by the village people. It’s amazing how much the water color changed the farther you got away from the mainland. The water became clearer and bright blue.

Payton Mark| THE SPECTRUM
Water taxi to Sawa-i-Lau Caves floating in the crystal clear water.

I stayed at Oarsman’s for two nights, and each resort has certain activities that you can do during the day. On this island, there is the famous Sawa-i-Lau Caves. I was lucky enough to be able to go there and explore these caves. The first one was a small body of water surrounded by rocks and had an opening up to the sky at the top. The second one you could only get to by swimming underwater for about five seconds. This one was completely dark and much smaller than the other one. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced before.

At this resort, I got to try the traditional kava drink, which is from the lava root. It is very popular among Fijians. This led to also trying fresh coconut water straight from the coconut. One of my favorite activities that every place had was snorkeling. Basically, it was snorkeling every day if not more than once a day.

Payton Mark| THE SPECTRUM
Endless amount of colorful coral in the Coral Gardens near the island of Naviti.

My favorite place with snorkeling was in the Coral Gardens. This was while I was staying on Naviti for two nights as well. During this was when I saw the most colorful coral I have ever seen. It was even better than the Great Barrier Reef. There were supposed to be Manta rays, which would have been amazing, but sadly they had not been spotted in a few days. During this, there were a lot of cool sea creatures such as starfish, jellyfish, seahorses and clownfish.

Another one of the cool things that I did on this island was hike over a mountain to a private beach. This was called Honeymoon Beach and it was so peaceful and a great escape. It was much different from the beach on the other side of the mountain because this one was sandier and the other one had a lot of rocks and coral.

Payton Mark| THE SPECTRUM
One of the many bull sharks seen while scuba diving.

The following island was definitely a favorite of mine because of the beautiful resort and the activities you could do. This island was called Kuata, and I stayed at the Barefoot Kuata resort for one night. The room was a tent right next to the ocean with an outdoor bathroom. I’ve always wanted to go scuba diving in the ocean, but never thought I’d get to do it in Fiji. The best part of this was that I was going scuba diving with bull sharks. Fiji is one of the only places in the world that you can do this. Although scuba diving with bull sharks was nerve-racking it provided an amazing experience. A professional diver took us down to a man-made reef about 11 meters deep. Another professional was in front, feeding the bigger fish to attract the sharks. There weren’t just bull sharks: there were also lemon sharks and smaller reef sharks. This lasted about 45 minutes of watching the sharks eat.

Next, I moved to the last island called Bounty, which was the smallest one I had been on. Each island got closer and closer to the mainland. Each day that it was time to transfer to another island we were brought by a smaller boat to the big boat that travels the Yasawa Islands each day. I got to the smaller island pretty late so I didn’t spend much time on the island since I was going on a Sea Spray Sailing tour the next morning. This was also one of my favorite days because the boat had sailed around the Mamanuca Islands, which are near the Yasawa’s.

The first stop was super exciting to me because we spent a couple hours exploring the island that Tom Hanks filmed the movie “Castaway” on. “Help Me” was even spelled out in coconuts there. A touching experience was going to visit a local village. It was amazing to see all of these smiling faces and what they are living like in different places because it’s much different than our lifestyle. A heartwarming moment was meeting with children at the local school — they truly melted my heart.

After receiving a delicious lunch on the boat, we then stopped by an island that they were actually filming the newest “Survivor” season that just aired. I had never seen “Survivor,” but when I got home I binge-watched it; it’s now my favorite show. This experience opened my eyes and made me thankful I was able to island hop in Fiji at only 20 years old. This was something you would never imagine you would be able to do at such a young age.

If you ever get the chance to travel to Fiji, do not let that chance pass you by. It will soon become your favorite place you’ve ever been.

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