You may recall that I departed Jacksonville on Dec. 30 and that I didn’t actually arrive in Fiji until Jan. 2, so spending a few nights decompressing and adjusting to the time zone at The Fiji Orchid was the best idea ever.
Only after I was physically and mentally back in the game did I make the journey out to Nukubati, a private island off the coast of Vanua Levu.
After a 40-minute Air Pacific flight, I arrived in tiny Labasa airport where a driver wearing a Nukubati (say it with me: Nuke-oom-bah-tee) shirt was waiting to take me on a jarring, hour long drive down a muddy red road through lush jungles and past tiny villages. I looked at the clock every three minutes – I wanted to be on the beach already!
Just when I thought I was never going to make it and I’d certainly just die of impatience in the middle of the jungle, I arrived Nukubati’s dock. Whew! Guess what else arrived at that exact moment? Rain. Lots of rain. And it almost stayed as long as I did.
See that island over there? That’s Nukubati!
Once at the dock, it’s just a 5-minute boat ride over to 38 acres of island paradise where the whole staff had gathered on the beach to welcome me with singing and clapping and another gorgeous lei. All this hullabaloo for little old me? Now didn’t I feel like a celebrity?! (I found out about two hours later when then next guests arrived that everyone gets that warm welcome. Still, it was awesome!)
I got lei’d again, hurray!
Jenny, the owner, and her right hand gal Sena, lead me into the main house, where we chatted about what activities I might like to try during my stay – diving, sandbar picnicking and kayaking were musts – and I had the most delicious coconut welcome drink, right off the tree!
Fijians have an uncanny knack for making you feel instantly at home. I kicked off my flip-flops, chose lunch from the menu and spent the rest of the afternoon chatting up the staff and the other guests like we were old friends. I hardly noticed the rain and wind that was starting to pick up outside…