Paddle Boarding and Exploring

This island is simply magical…

Today we decided to give Paddle Boarding a crack.  It’s something I’ve wanted to try for years, but never been quite confident enough to do.  We hired our boards (free of charge for an hour) and headed out into the blue beyond.

I just kneeled and paddled for a while, trying to get the feel of the board.  They’re quite wide and surprisingly sturdy, although when there’s a swell, it’s all over for someone as unco-ordinated and clumsy as myself.  Where you stand and put your feet, it’s non-stick so you can get a pretty good grip.


Jase tried to stand up straight away and took a flying dive into the crystal clear waters.  He got it right next time though, and was away.

We paddled around for most of the hour, and the kids were kayaking around us.  Caitlyn wanted to see Jase stack it again, so started paddling around him, telling jokes and calling him names to make him laugh, which worked a treat.  He teetered precariously and crashed down, but alas, onto the board instead of in the sea.

There was an almighty crack and the board snapped cleanly in half.


The swim of shame back to shore was rather humiliating for Jase, swimming slowly along touting a piece of board under each arm, like wings.  Made worse was the fact that he’d had a long drawn-out conversation yesterday with the guy at the Dive Bure about how badly people treat his equipment.

When he went up to the counter, he was first accused of taking the board onto the reef.  Jase pointed out that it was high tide and there was nothing he could possibly have grounded it on.  He was then called a Fat Bastard, which left the rest of us rolling around in hysterics.

It turned out that there was a fracture line along the board, where an earlier user had damaged it and not told anyone.  The line could be clearly seen, so Jase was let off with a nod and shake of the head.

This afternoon, we went for a walk to Musket Cove, one of the resorts adjacent to Plantation.  It was absolutely beautiful!  I would love to stay there sometime, it was clearly a higher quality resort, smaller with beautiful looking restaurants.  The beach was not as good though and there didn’t look to be any snorkelling, which is a big thumbs down for our family.


Tonight we had dinner at the Black Coral.  It’s a beautiful restaurant, and we had such a lovely meal.  I had sticky beef ribs, with coleslaw and fries.  The beef was so succulent and tender, it melted in my mouth, delicious!  The kids enjoyed their steaks, and indulged in a mocktail each, which made them feel very grown up indeed!


Another gorgeous day in paradise!



Snorkelling Day!

Snorkelling Day!

Zac ate a record 10 hash browns this morning for breakfast.  As well as his eggs and sausages…..  Wow…..

This morning we had an earlier breakfast and then went down to the wharf at 9.45am for our snorkelling tour.  We signed in and went and grabbed some snorkelling gear from the dive bure, then headed down to our covered motorboat where another family was waiting.

The ride out to the sandbar was only about 5 minutes, on an azure millpond sea, it was sublime.  Once at the sandbar, the boat was anchored in the middle, with an incoming tide, and we were told that we could stand up on the sand atoll, but weren’t to touch or stand on the surrounding coral reef.


The kids and Jase put on their snorkel gear while on the boat, including flippers and were precariously dangling off the boat in all directions, while I laughed at them and decided to jump into the sea first and then worry about my gear later.  I threw my stuff in and went in after it.  I think in hindsight the kids had the better idea.  Trying to put flippers on in waist deep water is surprisingly difficult.  And there’s just no way to get kitted up delicately or with any class in that depth.

We all got ourselves organised and then Jason found that his snorkel was damaged.  He had to go back to the boat to get it fixed, and then swimming back over to those of us at the reef.  Caitlyn also had damaged equipment which was just so incredibly frustrating.  Jase helped her with it, and in about 20 minutes, they swapped gear and Jase went back to the boat to chill out with the driver.  He was content enough with this though, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Once again, I can’t say it enough, if you’re planning on going to Fiji and love snorkelling, buy your own gear and take it with you.


The reef was just beautiful and for the first time in years I could see beautiful coral in glorious shades of blue, crimson and pink, it was wonderful.  The sea was warm and calm and the silence was only broken by exclamations of “Look at this!”  “Come over here!”  “ARGHHHH A CUTTLEFISH!!!!!!!!!!”.

For the record, I have only ever seen dead cuttlefish.  They are used for lots of beauty products, and I had no idea that they even looked like a squid, however our 10 year old budding Marine Biologist knew everything he was looking at and was almost overcome with his excitement.  They were pretty cool looking wee fish that’s for sure.

I had a moment of panic looking around for the kids and not seeing Zac.  I was frantically swimming around in circles trying to see where he was, and then heard Jase say “Hi Zac” as Zac clamoured back onto the boat.  I was so relieved, would be a bit of an oops to lose a kid on your watch.  Lucky we have 2 spares, hehe!  Had to have a wee chat about how not to freak your parents out.


The girls and I headed in about 15 minutes later, and climbed aboard the boat.  The water level was now over our heads, and we were ready for a nice cold drink.  The boat took us back to Plantation Island where we got a drink.  Caitlyn and Amber then hired out their gear for a further hour and went off for another snorkel, they have the bug bad!  Zach just went swimming, he is loving snorkelling but is finding the mouth part of the snorkel is a bit too big and hurts his mouth.  I need to find a kids sized one for him I think.

We had lunch at the Beach Bar today.  They do takeaway pizzas, and things like burgers and fries.  It was great for the kids, good gut sticking food, but fairly average to be fair.  But if the kids are happy, we are happy!  I think in this day and age of Master Chef and MKR, we all have such high expectations of what we are being served when we have to pay for it.  We don’t want food that we can cook at home, and the quality and variety of home cooked meals these days is outstanding…  Things like resting the meat.  Who knew about that even 15 years ago?

The kids decided to hire out a couple of water bikes after lunch and woe betide, there were only four seats over the two bikes.  I graciously offered to stay on shore and read my book and hurried off before Jason could offer his sales pitch to not have to go.  I was stoked!  I found a deck chair on the beach, and nestled down for an hour of blissful me time.


They had a great time on the bikes, well the kids did anyway!  Jase was exhausted as he was stuck on the bike with Zac who could reach the peddles but had no steam to actually work them and it was Jase lugging two bodies and a massive bike around on the water for an hour and he was knackered.

The rest of the arvo was flittered away with trying to climb coconut trees, playing cards, reading and just relaxing.  I made the mistake of standing on an ants nest and the next thing I know, my feet and ankles were burning in pain.  I looked down and saw that I was literally covered in hundreds of ants, my lower legs were black with them, and they were stinging (or biting?  I don’t actually know how the little demons hurt you but they do) me all over my feet.  I started squawking like a demented chicken and started slapping the ants off, with the kids helpfully slapping around my legs as well.

I got them all off and ran up the path to our bure and stood in the bowl of water by the door, to ease the burning sensation.  My feet were red and covered in little blisters.  The wee sods had got me good.  After I dried my feet off and sprayed antiseptic and soothe bug spray over my legs, we headed off for dinner.  I was very pleased that other than the initial sting, they caused no further problems.

Dinner was a roast, and the carvery Roast Lamb was just delicious, it was so juicy and flavoursome, I really, really enjoyed it!

We have had such a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Plantation Island Paradise

Plantation Island Paradise

The votes are in and Plantation Island is definitely our idea of Paradise…

This morning started with a visit to Reception.  Overnight I was cold (??!!!!!) as the air conditioning had been running all day the day before and had worked a little too well, and on the beds is a top sheet only, no blankets, and none in the cupboards at all.

The women at Reception were fantastic and called it through straight away and by the time we got back from breakfast, there were 4 wrapped up blankets sitting on the doorstep waiting for us.

Breakfast was fantastic!  We lined up to sign in and a lady came over and took us to a table while Jase signed in.  I was really impressed with how they handle the number of guests.  There are so many people on the island, it’s fully booked, and yet dealing with us all appears effortless (which of course is not the case).  Food is constantly being turned over and replaced, and waitresses are walking around pouring coffee and tea.

Breakfast is a pretty impressive buffet including some of the best hash browns I’ve ever had (could be that they are deep fried in fat which makes them sooooooo good but soooooo bad at the same time), lamb sausages, an egg station and a continental station.  Lots of fresh fruit, and a row of juice machines complete the buffet area.

Zac amazed me with what he put away for breakfast.  He’s a skinny wee lad, and just loved being able to eat whatever he wanted, instead of “marmite on toast”.  He ate 8 hash browns, and two fried eggs this morning and about 5 sausages.  I was seriously intrigued watching him methodically work his way through two full plates of food.

After breakfast we wandered back to the rooms, where I set up the blankets on our beds.  We played cards for a while, and then decided to go for a swim.  We packed up sunscreen, towels, water bottles and books and headed for the beach.  There was a lovely shady spot under a coconut tree that was just begging to be blobbed out on, so we claimed it promptly.

The water was cool when we first got in but we quickly got used to it and it was just magic swimming in the crystal clear turquoise water.  There was really no waves or swell at all today, it was so still and sunny, just perfect in every way.  Jase and I got out in about an hour and lay on the beach drying off while we read our books and watched the boats coming and going to the jetty.  The kids kept swimming until lunch time, little fish that they are!

We called them in and headed to the main restaurant to check out what kind of sustenance was offered.  Lunch was a-la-carte and with our meal plan we could have one main each off the menu, anything else we had to pay for.  We ordered a round of cokes (we always have coke when we travel, it’s compulsory to ward off evil tummy bugs and food poisoning and has served us well in the past!!!!) and then ordered lunch.

I had spicy chicken nibbles and island fries.  They were tasty but a small meal.  Perfect for myself and the girls, but for Jase and particularly Zac who crashes badly if his blood sugars go down too much it really wasn’t quite enough food.  But that was okay as we had brought over plenty of snacks and made sure to feed him up in the middle of the afternoon as well.

After lunch, we played cards again (it’s becoming very competitive and strategic!) and then the kids found some coconuts that had fallen off nearby trees and decided to open them.  I laughed at them, remembering back to the years we had tried to do the same thing on Mana Island, but wow, that Caitlyn is a tenacious creature!

She had watched a Bear Grylls programme about how to get coconuts open without a knife or machete, and she worked at it for a good hour, lifting it high over her head and then slamming it down onto the concrete with all the force she could muster.  She did it again and again and suddenly on one throw, coconut juice started squirting everywhere.  She then aimed precisely and threw it once more and what do you know, the darn thing cracked open.


She then pulled it fully apart, drunk the remaining juice and then dished out portions of fresh, absolutely delicious coconut flesh.  It was amazing!  The younger kids were re-energised by this successful quest and continued on with gusto.  Amber managed to get one open and then Zac did, although his was rotten, which I have to say is one of the more disgusting things I’ve seen and smelt in recent times.  The kids were stoked with their win and very hot and sweaty by the time they finished, so we headed for the beach.

We went to the Dive Bure down by the beach and asked for some snorkelling gear.  It’s free to hire, but you can only take out a set for an hour, which is quite different to when we were growing up and you’d get a set on arrival and keep it for the whole week.

Next time we go, I intend to buy us all a set of snokel gear so we never have to wait around, sign gear out, be back in an hour and put up with sometimes shoddy equipment.  I observed that the staff member behind the counter was fairly ratty, and asked if she’d had a good day.  She told me that she was sick and tired of guests using stuff, not giving a toss about it and returning it broken and not even mentioning it.  I get that, and felt quite sorry for her.

We took our flippers, masks and snorkels and headed down the beach.  There are two pontoons off the beach.  One is in front of the main area of the resort, where all the water activities are held, and the other is quite a long way out and in a quieter part of the beach.  We headed for that part of the beach, and gave the kids a lesson in using their snorkel gear.  I was delighted when they all grasped the concept easily and started bobbing around in the water, breathing heavily through their snorkels.


After we decided they were comfortable and proficient enough, we headed towards the pontoon, which was in really deep water.   There was no reef there, just wee mounds of coral in different places, but it gave the kids a good introduction.  We decided that we’d take them on the beginners snorkel tour tomorrow, it’s FJD$20pp for an hour which I thought was great value.

We then found that the channel in to the wharf was man made, and there is a reef along the edges, so as long as you stay on the reef side, you can still snorkel straight off the beach and see some great displays of tropical fish.  The reef is badly damaged due to people standing on it, and climate change which bleaches the coral.  It was pretty depressing to see when you know what it used to be like.  The kids of course, know no different, and loved every moment.

After our hour snorkelling, we returned the gear and the kids went back into the sea for another swim and play around.  They were weaving their way along under the jetty posts, chasing fish and having an absolute ball.

Dinner this evening was a Mongolian BBQ.  Rows of vegetables, raw meat, seafood, noodles, rice and condiments were set up, and you were given your main plate with a paper plate over the top where you put all the raw stuff.  You then lined up and the chef tossed it all into a wok and cooked it up for you.

I went slightly overboard with the fresh green and red chillies, which I regretted as my whole face and mouth burned while I ate, but it was simply delicious.  The kids all loved it too, which surprised me, I thought Zac would turn his nose up at it but he had a huge feed.  Being under 12, he’s able to eat for free at the kids buffet too, but it was really for younger children, featuring chicken nuggets and hot chips and he really enjoyed the adults selection.

The kids were absolutely shot tonight, in bed by 7.30pm!!!!!




Island Bound!

Island Bound!

This morning, we leisurely headed down to breakfast about 9.00am.  The kids loved that it was an all you can eat buffet, and Zach particularly loved the egg station, where you could request eggs cooked any way and it would be done there and then in front of you.  There was lots of fruit (pineapple, watermelon etc) and interesting things like Indian flatbread.

As our transfer wasn’t until the afternoon, we spent the morning by the pool, reading books and just relaxing in the sun.  The kids had a mocktail each called a Lemonade Pinky which looked sickeningly sweet to me, but they seemed to enjoy it!


We took a minibus taxi out to Denarau, rather than waiting for the courtesy coach transfer, as we wanted to have lunch there and a wander around the shops.  As we drove through Nadi, the taxi driver explained to us that the town centre is being slowly moved onto the other side of the river, because where it is currently located it’s too low and prone to flooding, which is becoming more frequent with global warming and climate change.

I was impressed at how much has changed since I was last here.  The roads are new and wide, there are traffic lights and a few international brands are popping up such as Burger King.  Apparently there is a lot of Chinese money being used for infrastructure.

It’s a far cry from the holidays in my early formative years where we drove on narrow dusty roads, and then had to walk a wee plank onto a dingy and get taken out to the ferry which would be anchored out in the deep water.  It’s all very commercialised and easy now which is great, but somehow loses a bit of its magic for us dinosaurs who have watched the many changes along the way.

At Denarau, the counter for the Malolo Cat was closed until 1.00pm which wasn’t ideal as we had our suitcases and had wanted to go shopping, however we’re on holidays, so no worriessssss!

We headed down to the Hard Rock Café.  It’s an institution here, as it is in many other centres around the world.  We’ve been here multiple times and most times have impressed with the quality of the food (but twice it has been just appalling).  We crossed our fingers and ordered lunch.


The staff were great, looking after our bags behind the reception counter while we ate.  The food was exceptional, which was a relief.  All five of us enjoyed our meals and ate our fill, Amber eating a massive rib eyed steak and full plate of vegetables that left me wondering how she’d manage to actually move afterwards, while watching a Myna bird eating a dead Myna bird.  Cannibalism at its finest and with an audience!  This bird was throwing the dead one around, and slamming it on the ground before flinging it in the air, I’ve never seen a performance quite like it…

After lunch, we headed back to the Malolo Cat counter and checked our bags in for the ferry.  We were given plastic boarding passes and our bags had coloured tags attached to them with our surname written on them (the colours corresponded to the resort you’re going to).  The Malolo Cat travels back and forth multiple times each day to the island of Malolo LaiLai, which is where Plantation Island Resort, Lomani Resort and Musket Cove Resort are all located.

Back in the day, there was one ferry that went around all the islands in the Mamanuca group, so you would climb aboard and settle in as you were there sometimes for hours.  Now, it’s far more structured and is used purely as a means of transport rather than a part of the holiday and destination itself.  But it’s quick!  50 minutes and you’re there in paradise so I guess that makes it okay!

Once we were checked in, we went and had a look around the shops.  Jacks Handicrafts have been around since I was a little girl, and they now have branches at Denarau, Lautoka and Suva, as well as Nadi.  The kids loved this shop and we spent almost an hour there, the kids clutching their wallets, while their Fijian currency burned a hole through to their hands.

Decisions are far tougher when you have spending money and can’t just ask your parents for everything.  We teach the kids about budgeting and holidays are the best place for lessons like this.  They all did really well, after a gentle reminder that this is only day one!

Normally we buy our drinking water in bulk at the supermarket at Denarau but today we decided against it as it’s such a pain lugging a crate of water around.  We thought we’d just buy it as we needed it on the island.  Turned out we didn’t need to (more on that later).

The Malolo Cat IV departed at 2.00pm.  It was quite a windy day, and the sea had a fairly big swell.  The windows were smeared with the remains of salty waves lashing the side, and when I found out that families with children had to sit inside and weren’t allowed on the upper deck, I took a Sealegs tablet.  Having been on a cruise recently and found out what seasickness feels like, I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience.

It was rough but not scary on the way out to the island.  We cut a direct track and the worst part was coming around the island itself where our Catamaran had to tack around across the waves, some of which were quite sizeable.

We pulled into the jetty at Plantation Island to see kids on inflatable obstacle courses, people snorkelling everywhere and lots of canoes and paddleboards out paddling around.  It looked truly blissful.

Staff were on the jetty singing a welcome song in Fijian, with guitars, ukuleles and lots of hand clapping.  Their lilting harmonies carried to us in the breeze, and it felt like we were stepping into paradise.

Guests who were returning were sent straight to reception to get their keys and those of us “newbies” were taken to a big hall where we were given our registration forms to fill out.  In our welcome pack was our room key, a map and some information about things like sea lice stings.

I was really impressed when they gave each of us a 1 litre bottle of water, and explained that there were various refill stations around the resort.  What a brilliant idea, and it saves SO much money, especially when you have a family.  As you can’t drink out of the taps on the island, it costs quite a lot to keep your family hydrated in the heat, and to be able to just go and fill up the bottles every few days was fantastic.  The bottles were given to us in blue canvas beach-bags, which also ended up being very handy, and were taken to the beach every day.

We were told that there are 3 pools, and 3 restaurants at the resort, and you can also go to the restaurants at the adjoining resorts, and charge back to your room which is really handy.

After our welcome (and a refreshing mango juice) we were escorted to our room.  We were in bure 402 and while being taken there, I was a bit apprehensive as it felt a long way from the main part of the resort.  It turned out that although there are 26 acres of land at the resort, it’s split into 3 main parts, and all are a quick walk down a wide road to the main area.

Our room looked out across gardens to one of the pools.  The room is spacious, and I really liked that they have a separate toilet and sink.  When you’re travelling with self conscious teens who lock themselves away every time they need to do something and take forever in the bathroom, the extra room comes in handy!

Our room has two bedrooms and a huge lounge, which has 3 couches that are actually full size single beds, so you could sleep 7 or 8 people quite comfortably in them.  We put Zac in the lounge and the girls had the second bedroom.

The kids wanted to hit the beach straight away but as the day was quickly escaping away on us, we decided to just relax, have a look around and an early night.  We played a few games of cards, and then headed to the main restaurant for dinner.

We’d prepaid for a full meal plan which was ideal as the kids could go crazy with the buffet and we didn’t need to panic about what the bill at the end would be.  Lunches are a la carte but breakfast and dinner are both buffet.  There is also a beach snack bar that does takeaway pizza and burgers etc, and a fine dining restaurant called the Black Opal.

Dinner tonight was a Mediterranean buffet.  Items served included lasagne, and a make-your-own pasta station where you gathered your ingredients which were then quickly cooked in front of you.  Dessert was lots of fresh fruit, and chocolate pudding with hot fudge sauce…  Not too bad at all!

As we ate, a band played in the background singing classic songs from mainly the 80’s.  It was lovely and the main singer was exceptional.

We had an early night tonight.  I had known that there would be no tv’s on the island, so had a device (ipad or ipod or phone etc) for each kid and an ipad for Jase and I, that I had downloaded a pile of movies suited to each of us individually that we could watch offline.

Jase and I started watching a movie, but only got half way through and called it a night.  We’re quite knackered and looking forward to getting our island swagger on tomorrow 🙂