The best way to spend your Star Alliance frequent flyer miles? 25.000 points for free travel between Australia and the South Pacific. Thanks to SAS and Air New Zealand December 2001 was spent travelling up the Yasawa island group in Fiji…
All international flights into Fiji arrive in Nadi on the main island, Viti Levu. That means that Nadi is the last place in Fiji you want to spend any time. However, we found that the Nadi Bay Hotel was a cheap and excellent place to spend the necessary time at. Also in Nadi we meet Kari and Bosco. They run Native travel agency. Kari is from Norway, but Bosco is Fijian. We spoke with them at length over lunch trying to plan our trip. Funnily, it turns out that some friends of mine had been to Fiji only a few months earlier (I didn’t know) and they had meet Kari and Bosco as well. I was a bit confused when I saw pictures of Birte and Espen on the wall in the travel agency. Small world.
A general note on Fijian travel agencies. The “deposit” you pay them is actually commission, and usually a fixed percentage of the daily rate of the resort you are booking at. This means that it is a good idea to never book more than the first night through a travel agency. That gives you a chance to bargain directly with the place for the money that is usually paid in commission to a travel agent. Also, if you book for more than 1 night and you don’t like the place, your “deposit” is lost.
Kari and Bosco recommended us to travel up the Yasawa islands. And soon enough we found ourselves at Mike’s Sunset Waya Beach Resort on Waya Island. In this paradise we spent about 3 weeks doing absolutely nothing.
Even though we did nothing, heaps of stuff happened. Among other things, we got a close up (face-to-face) with a shark snorkeling in shallow waters just off Waya.
One night a super-luxury yacht moored just in the bay outside Waya. The following morning a helicopter landing just in front of our bure on the beach waked us. Fascinating stuff. I sleep well, but this morning I thought the world was going to crash down on me. One of the rich pimps on the boat probably couldn’t wait to get back to a business meeting, and had the helicopter come get him. How rich can you get?
We had ample time to get to meet the family that ran Sunset Waya; Mike, Mary, Cetta, Bona, Oni and Docks. There was also a Canadian couple, Fynn and Lisa, that helped out about half the year.
The last place Mike ran, Lovoni, had been closed due to a mix between a hurricane and problems with the license from Fiji Visitors Bureau. Sunset Waya was in a much nicer spot anyway. But the “resort” was just being built. We stayed in the only bure (house) they had. We slept on a thin mattress the concrete floor, but when you can hear the waves rolling in at night, who cares?
No electricity, no phones, no cold drinks, nothing to buy. Simply paradise.