Tag Archives: Mana Island Resort

On Cloud 9 in Fiji

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Another early night lead to an early morning. Steph and I were up at sunset once again and decided to take our run off the beach and around the island for a little exploring. We headed around the west side of the island to “Sunset Beach” which was completely deserted and perfect for a little beach run. We then hiked around to the south side of the island to check out the wedding chapel (unimpressive) and the honeymoon villas that are separated from the rest of the resort. After having seen every part of this resort and most of the island, I can say with absolute certainty that we were upgraded to the single best villa in the best location on the entire island. Sometimes having a boy’s name and being mistaken for a heterosexual couple prior to arrival really pays off in life.

Morning run on sunset beach
Morning run on sunset beach

To reward ourselves for an aggressive morning we decided to hit the buffet breakfast at the resort. It was shockingly mediocre and full of kids, so we won’t be making that mistake again. I still gorged myself because I have zero self control in any type of “all you can eat” situation. My inner fat kid combined with my Jewish need to get my money’s worth create quite the little buffet whore. After breakfast, we headed over to our favorite activity beach hut to confirm our trip to Cloud 9 that afternoon – more on that later. We spent the rest of the morning chilling in our villa and laying out on our deck. We popped our last bottle of champs around noon, as there was no way I was going to a floating bar in the middle of the ocean sober. We headed back to the beach hut and checked in for our boat trip. Having been to this rodeo before, we knew the boat would be showing up on Fiji time, so we settled in for some people watching on the beach while we waited. Remember the meek Asian couple taking the snorkeling lessons yesterday? Well apparently they are quick learners and decided to upgrade to a kayak today! They even brought along another uncoordinated couple to join them.  There was an Aussie couple who left their three young children, including a baby, with their Grandpa while they went joyriding around on some jet skis. A couple bucks an hour for babysitting, yet you choose to instead make your poor old dad juggle your brood of rugrats while he is on vacation? If I was Grandpa, that shit would be grounds for disinheritance.

China's gold medal kayak team
China’s gold medal kayak team

Our boat finally pulled up and we hopped on with two other girls, one of which was offensively fugly. I thought that perhaps there might even be some sort of facial deformity in play, in which case I should probably refrain from writing about her for karma’s sake, but Steph assured me that she was, in fact, just extremely unattractive. Plus, if I was really worried about Karma I probably should have thought about that 75 blogs ago. Luckily we were on the front of the boat and they sat in the back, because it was the kind of face you just can’t look away from if within your field of peripheral vision.

A swift 20 minute ride later, we were pulling up to Cloud 9, a floating bar in the middle of the ocean complete with an upper deck and a pizza oven. It was as if someone went inception on me and stalked my dreams and then made them a reality. A bar that is only accessible by boat automatically trumps all other bars. Period. End of story. We spent the next few hours guzzling vodka sodas while we lounged on one of the day beds. There were a few big groups of backpackers at the bar, probably spending the last of their dinner money for the next month on drinks. You can always tell they are backpackers because (1) they are shit faced, (2) they are hornier than a JV football team, and (3) they are young, but not enough to give them a free pass on (1) and (2). One of the backpacker girls started begging her group of random backpacker friends for money so that she could buy pot from one of the employees. A hilariously awkward situation ensued in which everyone in the group had to pretend to not have money. This girl was pretty much the antithesis of fiscal responsibility, so I hardly blame them. She did manage to find some money eventually, because about 10 minutes later I saw the deal go down. It’s hard to hide on a tiny floating bar.

We headed back to our resort just in time for happy hour at our villa. For dinner we headed to the Asian “Spa Cuisine” restaurant at the resort. It was pretty much the most awful meal of my life. Problem #1: Children running around screaming. Literally sprinting around people’s tables chasing each other and yelling at the top of their lungs in the middle of a restaurant while their parents leisurely sipped wine as if their children were not solely responsible for ruining the nights of tens of patrons. It’s not even the children’s fault at that point. The blame is entirely on the selfish, entitled, cheap parents who couldn’t be bothered to teach their children manners or at the very least organize a babysitter. Children are a direct reflection of their parents. So if you’re kid is an ass hole, look in the mirror. Problem #2: The waiter. The most awful service I have probably ever encountered in my life, including when I was in New Zealand. And trust me, that’s saying something, because Kiwis suck at service. We took it as a sign that it was time to leave the island. And leave we will, tomorrow.  Mana Island, its been fun.  Mana Island Resort, get your shit together (but thanks for the upgrade!).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jorgie gets to Fiji today! The plan is for Jorgie to land and transfer to the marina where she will get on a ferry, meanwhile, Steph and I will take a small boat to an island where we will then transfer to her ferry. Sounds easy enough, unless someone gets a case of “Fiji time” somewhere along the way and fucks the plan up. Steph and I dragged our shit down to the hostel, which is where we were taking our boat transfer from since it was about a third of the price as our resort. We then waited around for our boat “Captain” to get some fuel. I use the term “Captain” loosely here, as our boat was basically a glorified canoe with a motor. But it did the trick and we made it to Beachcomber island in time to meet the ferry. Just to give you some background, Beachcomber island is the notorious backpacker party island in Fiji. They even have a dorm room with sixty beds in it. Given Fiji’s proximity to Australia, I don’t think we can even fathom the amount of Chlamydia that gets passed around that barn of drunken backpackers. The best way I can describe it is if someone made Lord of the Flies into a porno. Thankfully, our stay on Beachcomber lasted all of 10 minutes. We boarded Beachcomber transfer boat to get to the ferry, at which point a Surly Fijian woman demanded we pay her $10 for the transfer since we were not guests on that island. I tried to argue, but seeing as how our only other option was to stay trapped on the island of disillusioned, drunken youth, she had our feet over the fire.

Ten dollars and ten minutes later the three musketeers where reunited on our way to Waya Island in the Yasawa group, arguably the most beautiful islands in all of Fiji. After a smooth hour and a half ride we pulled up to a huge island with striking green mountains and long stretches of white sand. The longest stretch of sand is home to Octopus Resort, which would be our home for the next few days. We disembarked and were stuffed onto tiny little boats to transfer to the island. We walked straight into paradise where we were greeted, handed welcome drinks, and directed to our beach hut. We decided to toast to our Fijian reunion with some duty free vodka in said welcome drinks. After settling in, it was time for lunch. The way Octopus resort works is basically like the most awesome summer camp you’ve ever been to. We sleep in what are essentially fancy cabins on the beach (with outdoor showers!), there is an activities board where you simply sign up for whatever strikes your fancy, and you eat all your meals in a central open-air dining hall with your feet in the sand. After lunch, we continued to hit the duty free vodka freely while we blew up our amazon prime pool rafts and settled in for a drunken day by the pool.

This is where shit gets a little awesomely weird. We quickly found ourselves surrounded by a few children who were splashing around in the pool. Normally this would be reason enough for an abrupt location change, however the vodka was coursing through my veins and I was feeling charitable. I took it upon myself to teach the children the rules of the pool that were taught to me so many years ago by my mother. Rule #1 – when adults are floating in a pool, stay the fuck out of their sun. Rule #2 – it is the responsibility of the children to keep the adults from overheating in the sun by periodically splashing them gently with water. To my shock and awe, the kids took to this little game of “splash the nice American ladies” amazingly well. Our favorite kid, a little Russian boy who we called “D-Money”, spent HOURS sitting on the edge of the pool spraying us with his water gun upon request. This, my friends, is why you have kids. So you can train them to make your life more enjoyable upon request. What do you do when you get a dog? You teach it to sit for its food, or course. Why should kids be any different? Yes, I just compared kids to dogs. I know, that’s really not a fair comparison. Sorry dogs, I swear I didn’t mean it.

By about 5pm we were good and sloshed. Hence why you got no blog yesterday. Frankly, I’m not terribly keen on writing this one while I stare at the beautiful beach in front of me, so I’ll make the rest quick. We napped, showered, went to dinner half asleep. It was uneventful and we were in bed around 8:30pm. Tomorrow we go on the HIKE FROM HELL. It might take a while until I can gain enough perspective to write about that hike from a place of humor. I’m currently exhibiting signs of PTSD and need to grab another beer.

Getting Tana on Mana

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Today I went to work and painfully counted down the hours until it was time to leave for Fiji. I don’t get paid vacation, so every hour that I can rack up before a big trip counts these days. Steph and I headed to the airport around 9pm. Upon arrival at Tom Bradley, we were met with our first introduction to the awesomeness that is all things Fiji – Fiji Airways. We checked in and requested an open row to share, which we were given. The lady even put a hold on the two seats in between us so no one could randomly be assigned to them. We then headed up to the dreaded international terminal security line, which is always guaranteed to be about as organized as a Chinese seafood buffet line. The first blog victim was an Asian girl struggling to carrying her duffle bag through the line. She therefore left it sitting in the middle of each switchback in the line. She would then walk through the line until she came up on the other side of the bag, at which point she would pick it up and then set it back down on the other side of the lane. This went on for a while. Apparently leaving an unattended duffel bag at random points in the middle of a security line at an international airport is not universally known as a bad idea. I dare homegirl to try that shit in a New York airport. We thought we had encountered our allotment of airport dumbassery for this flight, but the Tom Bradley terminal really is the gift that keeps on giving. Once we made it to the x-ray machines we found ourselves behind another Asian woman with a baby. She placed the baby’s car seat on the conveyor belt and began to push it down the line towards the x-ray. Her only oversight being that her baby was still in it. Captain TSA save-a-baby quickly yelled “Ma’am, you need to take your baby out!”. Score two for the blog. I’m starting to understand China’s one baby rule now. Did I take that one too far? I always do…

Boarding was swift and painless. Our flight was about half full, which is always nice. When I say flight, what I am actually referring to is the flying refrigerator that we flew to Fiji in. I think donated organs have traveled in higher temperatures than what we had to endure on that plane. Steph was so cold that she actually attempted to mummify herself in Fiji Airways blankets, which was about as successful as wrapping yourself in one-ply toilet paper and then sleeping in an igloo. But you can’t blame a girl for trying. We eventually fell asleep, or in my case, into a xanax and cold-induced coma.

Mummy Steph
Mummy Steph

I should probably explain why I introduced two travel companions in the last blog but only have one with me now. Jorgie is meeting us in Fiji in a few days when Steph and I head to our second island. She decided to be a mature adult and stay home for work-related commitments this week. Let the record show I was strongly against this decision. And now you all know why I don’t have a real job with benefits like paid vacation. Benefits are like strings. And employers strangle you with them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Some of you may have noticed that we skipped Wednesday. We lost a day in en-route to the international date line. World traveler problems. Today we arrived at about 5:30am local time here in Fiji. We breezed through customs and hit duty free. I have been trolling the Fiji travel forum on tripadvisor for the past few months (an informed traveler is a happy traveler) and so I know that booze is pretty expensive out on the Fijian islands. Since daily happy hour when on a beach vacation is not negotiable, we figured we might as well save a few bucks and BYOB a little. We picked up a few bottles of vodka, or as I like to call it, happy water, and about 5 bottles of wine. We hopped in a taxi to the marina driven by the nicest man I have ever met. You know it’s a good sign when even the taxi drivers are happy at 6am. We talked for a while on our way, mostly about how he doesn’t eat meat or drink booze because he had a near death experience in a storm, after which he reaffirmed his Hindu beliefs and now needs to repent. Except for when he visits Las Vegas one day, which he is very much looking forward to.

Twenty minutes later we were at Denarau Marina, where we checked in for our South Sea Cruise ferry out to Mana Island, which would be our first stop of the trip. We bought a few small cases of water and some club soda at the market while we killed a few hours before our ferry. By 9am we were not only the most properly provisioned people on the boat, but the first ones to board. Once we started moving, I popped a bottle of cold champagne that I found in the store at the Marina, because how the hell else do you ring in a new trip? The other people on our ferry looked at us with jealousy. Or maybe it was confusion. I don’t know, but I was buzzed and on a boat so who the hell cares? We passed through the Mamanuca group of the Fijian islands on our way. I included a few pics of our journey, since my words probably can’t do it justice.

We arrived at Mana Island Resort to a rousing signing welcome from the staff. Upon check-in we were informed that they thought we were a couple and so they had upgraded our room. That’s right, a friendmoon suite, complete with our own deck overlooking a beautiful long stretch of beach, a view of neighboring islands, and wine fridge, and an outdoor shower. Name one thing better than an outdoor shower. Seriously, I dare you to think of something better. We walked into our villa and did a little happy dance. Despite being ready for bed at noon, we were determined to make it through the entire day so we could adjust to Fiji time, so we headed down to the activity huts on the south beach to see what our options were for the next few days. With some options to think about, we then headed to the adults only pool, where we had lunch and lazed away the afternoon with our kindles. Thank god for the adults pool, because there are a lot of families here. And you do know why there a lot of families? Because a babysitter costs FJD $5/hr. That’s less than $2.50 USD an hour for a lovely Fijian woman to take your kids off your hands while you enjoy your vacation. If I had kids, I would just buy them an entirely separate room and pay for 24 hour babysitter service. Why not? There isn’t a problem in the world I wouldn’t pay $60/day to make go away. And to be clear here, by problem, I am referring to children.

I always like to have some sort of activity set for day 1. That way you can just show up after a long day of travel and not have to think about anything. I have been known to get a little aggressive with day 1 travel plans in the past. In Santorini, day 1 was a 5 mile hike. In Peru, day 1 was sand boarding and dune buggies. In Rome, day 1 was a full day sightseeing tour. You get the picture. Those were all day 1 activities of my 20s. Now I’m in my 30’s and a day of travel combined with sleeping on a plane takes me a minute to bounce back from. So for this trip, I took it easy on Steph and just made reservations at the spa. After lounging in the sun for the afternoon, we headed over to the beautiful spa here at Mana Island Resort to get a massage and facial. It was heaven. Except for the part where they lathered my hands and feet in a vasaline-like substance and wrapped hot rocks around them for an extended period of time. Nothing good ever came of being slathered in K-Y jelly.

After spa time we showered and attempted to go to dinner at one of the restaurants. It was packed (no reservations allowed at this specific restaurant) and they wanted us to share a table with another couple. Since we were too tired to pull a string of words into a sentence at this point, we decided that would just be awkward for both parties and retreated back to our room for room service and an 8:30pm bed time.

Tomorrow Steph and I take a three hour private jet ski tour around the Mamanuca islands.  Beacuse we fancy as fuck.  We also have a big stash of booze that we need to put a dent in. That shit doesn’t carry itself from island to island. Stay tuned!