We wanted to visit at least one of the other Fijian islands. There are 332, about 1/3 of which are inhabited and the better snorkeling is off those islands. We chose a tour that would take us from our resort on Denarau Island first to South Sea Island where we would spend a couple of hours and then on to Mondriki Island where we would spend the afternoon. Both islands offered snorkeling so that looked like a good option. Mondriki is also the island where the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks was filmed adding a bit of interest even though we have not seen the island.
Then the morning we were to head out, we ran into two snafus. First, I misunderstood the times and we missed our bus. Fortunately, we arrived early enough to catch a taxi to the harbor just in time to catch our boat. Snafu number two: our tickets were for the day before and today’s boat was sold out. This in spite of the fact that I had asked the agent to verify that we were on this cruise the day before. I’m not sure what she did, but it seems obvious that we had already missed the cruise we were supposed to be on. We said we couldn’t go tomorrow because our flight would leave tomorrow. With only moments to spare they scheduled us on a different tour that would still spend the morning on South Sea Island and then we would hop on a ferry that would stop at three of the other islands as it delivered passengers to and from them. Better than nothing.
As we got on the boat, the agent at the harbor also upgraded us to the Captain’s Suite where we could have free drinks and snacks as we traveled. Whoever was at fault for the mixup, South Sea Cruises certainly did their best to make it up to us.
After a 30 minute boat ride, we arrived at South Sea Island. I never asked, but I wonder if the island is named for the cruise company or vice versa. South Sea Island is literally small enough to walk completely around in ten minutes. We did not bother to do that as we could easily see the entire island as we disembarked. After we gathered under the palm trees to learn the plans for our stay, we headed off to take a ride in the semi-submersible viewing boat. This mini-cruise lasted about 15 minutes giving us some nice views of the coral and the small fish swimming around them.
Upon our return to the island we immediately prepared to go snorkeling. We changed to our swimsuits, procured some swim fins, and headed off to the snorkel area on another small boat. The coral here is not a reef as it is many places, but just some humps in the ocean covered with coral and inhabited by many small fishes. We spent about 45 minutes enjoying the views before heading back to shore to shower and change back into our beach ware.
After about half an hour to simply enjoy the sun and sand, lunch was served, barbecued chicken and fish accompanied by several salads and complimentary drinks. We sat with three young ladies on a two-month world tour from Europe. Two were from Norway, the third from England. They had spent the night on South Sea Island and planned to be bit bored the rest of the afternoon and evening as they had one more night to spend on this island before moving on to another, hopefully more exciting island. We had fun talking about their travels and plans. They had been to Dubai, Singapore, and Australia and were planning to visit Los Angeles and Las Vegas before returning home to school. Not a bad vacation.
After lunch we gathered up all our stuff and boarded another boat for a ride out to some other islands. We wouldn’t get to see Mondriki, but we did get a good sense of what some of the other islands were like. Less settled than our island with only one or two resorts, the wilderness was much closer on these smaller islands. On another trip, it will be fun to stay on one of them for a couple of nights.
When we arrived back at the condo, we realized that our flight was leaving tonight at 1:00 am, not tomorrow night. It’s amazing how easy it is to get confused as one changes time zones, crosses the International Date Line and leaves after midnight with an arrival the day before. Fortunately, we had plenty of time to eat and get everything packed and arrange for a taxi to the airport. The only real glitch from then on would be the $120 extra baggage fee charged by Fiji Air. We have since learned that Fiji Air is not the only airline with a fee for a second bag on an international flight so we will be checking this more carefully in the future and perhaps packing a bit differently.