It’s not that Mana Island is far away, because it’s only a 3 hour flight from Auckland, but with the transfers and waiting for baggage and everything, it’s a full day’s travelling nearly. A week ago we headed out from home at 7.40, kindly driven to the airport by our house sitter. 1 hour flight to Auckland, a dunkin’ donut and a quick transfer to the international terminal with our baggage and we hopped on the big plane to Fiji. Once in Fiji we caught a bus to Denerau port and then a water taxi to Mana. The bus took about half an hour, but we stopped at a supermarket so people could stock up on beer and there were smokers who slowed us down. The water taxi took about 45 minutes, so it was 5pm by the time we were actually walking on Mana.
It was hot. It was beautiful. There were bats.
The first awesome thing about our trip was the weather. There was a rain storm over Nadi airport when we first tried to land so the pilot couldn’t see the airstrip and had to pull up and circle around. Apart from a couple of night showers that was the only rain the island got while we were there. Every day was stunningly clear and hot and man…it was hot. I love the heat, but this was getting past what I can cope with. On average we swam three times a day, usually South beach in the morning and the pool in the afternoon.
I’ve never stayed at a resort before, but I loved the experience; it was so luxurious and boozy and awesome. Plus, the room (individual or two-fer bures) was nicely appointed and cleaned every day. Mana Island is very beautiful with trees and bats and flowers everywhere. The views over the beaches were all stunning and yeah, I think you get the idea.
We were on the prepaid meal plan, which I would definitely recommend because it’s way cheaper and there are just not that many options on the island. With the meal plan there was a full buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner at the main resort or you could go to the South Beach restaurant for lunch or dinner. It was tricky to get into the South Beach restaurant as it’s so much smaller and the island got busier as the week went on, but their food was much much nicer. Really nice thin base pizzas, fresh pasta, prawns, etc. The buffet was pretty good but it varied wildly.
We didn’t do much strenuous activity, mostly we chilled out poolside with people from the wedding group, drinking and chatting and dipping into the pool when it got too hot. However, after 5 separate recommendations we went snorkelling at Sunset Beach (where the wedding was held). It was so worth it. I’ve only been snorkelling in Raro before, where it’s overall pretty shallow.
The reef off Mana is awesome, the water gets deep very fast and you can swim out to the drop off (where the reef ends) really easily. We went with a couple of friends (we ended up having a few meals with these two, it was really nice), and we saw Nemo and a bunch of other fish I recognised from that movie. The range of fish was huge, and the coral formations very big and beautiful. I saw a brain coral roughly twice as long as me. It was stunning.
Other people in our party saw a 4 foot shark and a column of squids. Not me, though, and I’m pleased. I like sharks no problem, but seeing squids in their natural habitat? Too freaky. Anyway, definitely recommend the snorkelling. It takes it out of you though, swimming back was against the current and you really had to work to get back to the beach. I had to have an extra long nap that afternoon. It’s a hard life on Mana Island lemme tell you.
The resort is expensive, but the in-room air conditioning makes it way worth while. I’d really love to go back some day with a bunch of friends. The Island is big enough that you can get away from the group and do your own thing no problem, or you can all congregate together at the poolside bar and drink mai tais. The resort is very kid friendly with the buffet meals,the pools and a supervised kid’s club.
Someday when we’re all feeling very rich I think.