Activate, inner Robinson Crusoe. Turn on the sunshine. Increase the intensity of the colors. Turn the tropical vibes way up. A bit of humidity. A refreshing breeze. Add the most beautiful carefree, blissful feeling you can imagine.
Nacula, located near the northern end of the Yasawa chain of islands in Fiji, is not easy to get to. After a domestic flight, an international flight, a taxi ride, a seaplane flight, and a boat ride, isolation and untouched beauty all but expected. There are a few things, however, that shouldn’t be expected: like roads, motorized vehicles, towns, or reliable internet. But trust me, you won’t need any of it.
Beautiful Yasawa islands from the peak on Nacula, overlooking the Blue Lagoon
We chartered a seaplane via Turtle Airways, and enjoyed a flight over bright turquoise waters, speckled with abundant reefs and jewel green islands dotted below. Serious sensory overload. My husband and I were the only passengers besides our pilots, who were clad in shorts and flip-flops. One was an Australian named Desmond, and I immediately hoped I was on LOST.
Despite the disappointment of not greeting Jack & Kate upon landing, I was quickly swept away by the beauty of Turtle Island, where we waited just a few minutes for a boat to pick us up to take us to the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort. Upon stepping onto the soft sand, warmly greeted by staff with a refreshing glass of pineapple juice, I knew this was a special place. It felt like home.
Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, although small, has a range of accommodations, from dorms and lodge rooms, to luxury beachside villas. Figuring we would be spending every waking minute at the beach anyway, we chose a garden villa. The garden villa is set in lush tropical surroundings, was spacious, complete with an outdoor shower, hammock, and daybed on the porch. I would recommend it to anyone looking to save a little bit of money, or in our case, to justify a splurge later! (More about that in my next post!)
Our Garden Villa
The beach in front of Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, my main criteria for selecting where we would stay, did not disappoint. I’d estimate that the beach was a half mile long, soft, white sand, and nearly waveless water, the color of a swimming pool — a color I thought to be an exaggeration prior to this trip. At low tide, you are able to walk over the rocks at either end of the beach, and explore other beaches. All completely desolate. In fact, even on the main beach people were only concentrated by the lounge chairs. Simply walk a hundred yards, and it was all mine!
Mine, except perhaps for the island dogs, owned by staff at the resort. The pups would follow their owners to work, spend all day swimming in the blue lagoon, chasing birds, and playing with resort guests and then follow their owners back home at night. They were very friendly, and were always available to go on a walk or hike with you! …What a life.
Postcard perfect view from lunch
Eating well on the island was effortless. Blue Lagoon had a pretty good restaurant considering how remote the location is. The daily menu has a wide variety of choices, from Fijian curries and other seafood dishes (drool) to more Western favorites. Dinners rotated between a set menu for a traditional 5 course meal, and extravagant buffets. Breakfasts were a lovely spread of continental choices, as well as an omelette and crepe station. Food is included in the price you pay for the room, so there are no extra charges, other than for alcohol. Happy hour is daily, where you could buy a local beer (Fiji Bitter/Fiji Gold) for $5 Fijian (or $2.40 USD). Not bad! One of my favorite parts about the restaurant was the music that they played — a mix of Fijian music, reggae, and pan-Polynesian songs, including one of my favorites from Hawaii, J-Boog. I wonder if he knows his songs are being played on this tiny island in Fiji…
Although personally I would have been totally content to devour books on the beach the entire time we stayed, there were ample activities during the day to enjoy. From snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding, to a hike to the highest point on Nacula, there were many opportunities to be active and burn off the copious amounts of kokoda and Fijian pastries I loved.
We took an amazing excursion to the Sawa-I-Lau caves, about a 30 minute boat ride from Nacula. These are the caves where they filmed Brooke Sheilds in the iconic movie “The Blue Lagoon”. We climbed up the concrete stairs to the cave entrance, and clambered down into the water, in a cave room 40 feet tall. In small groups, we then were ushered towards what the guide promised was the entrance to a second, enclosed cave. The entrance was through an underwater tunnel that you had to swim through to get into it! After a brief coaching on how not to hit my head, I was the first to go through. Very nerve-wracking, but I’m glad I did it. We swam along through the channels, lit only by flashlight. It was a bit surreal, and frightening, knowing that there are eels that live in the dark depths, but overall such a fun and adventurous experience. Side-note: we were urged not to bring the Go-Pro in, for risk of losing or damaging it, so no pictures inside unfortunately.
Snorkeling and kayaking around the Blue Lagoon presented only the challenge of timing the tides so that it was high enough to swim or paddle all the way over the reef. Otherwise, there are no waves, so it’s effortless to swim with countless tropical fish. I even spotted a baby manta ray!
Hiking to the peak on Nacula was a bit more challenging than I’d expected, potentially exacerbated by the fact that I’d packed only Tevas (slightly rugged sandals). Nevertheless, I made it to the top, was able to take in the panoramic views. The song ‘Islands in the Stream’ immediately came to mind, and I sang it all the way back down, feet caked in mud, numerous blisters, and all. It’s truly hard to be unhappy here.
Honeymoon Island from the water
One of the highlights of our trip was being ‘marooned’ on Honeymoon Island. Since we booked more than 7 nights at Blue Lagoon, it was included in our stay (although normally it’s about $200 USD). We set out in the morning on a boat, and were just dropped off on the most beautiful, tiny island I have ever seen. We were told we would be provided lunch, and were actually left with an entire huge ice chest of food! It was so much food I had to reconfirm with our boat driver when he would be picking us up, as there was definitely enough for several days! We snorkeled along undisturbed reefs, trekked around exploring the tiny island coastline, shared a bottle of champagne, and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the hammocks, lying under the palapa, and wading in the tranquil waters. My husband even managed to crack open a coconut with a rock, which made us convinced we could just live there forever. I almost wished they wouldn’t have picked us up!
We also went on a visit to Nacula village, the largest village on the island. Despite living with no electricity given a broken generator, and limited resources, the villagers were some of the most joyous people I’d ever met. They welcomed us warmly with signing and dancing, which everyone was quickly recruited into participating in. I have to say this is the sweatiest I have ever been in my life. The village was sheltered and got no wind, plus the humidity, plus being inside a hall with linoleum floors with no air conditioning or fans, plus traditional Fijian dancing, which is heavy on running around! I had a smile plastered on my face the whole time, though! We visited a market the village had, and bought a few handcrafts for our home as souvenirs. My favorite is a mat made of many different colorful fabrics, sewn in a circle. They were the same style that adorned our villa at the resort, and I was excited to have one to decorate our own home and remind me of this beautiful culture.
In talking about all of the experiences we had on Nacula, I think the thing that sticks with me the most in my memories is, for lack of better words, the vibe. Blue Lagoon Beach Resort was one of the most laid-back hotels I had ever stayed at. From the bean bags in on the deck of the bar, the staff greeting us by name, the reggae riffs always in the background… To floating in the lagoon without a care in the world including a lack of the sense of what time it was. Blue Lagoon Beach Resort was unpretentious and unassuming — it catered to a varied crowd, from island-hopping backpackers, to well heeled families from all over the world, but it never once felt generic. It held this upscale, yet bohemian vibe that resonated with me in a way that is hard to describe.
I wished that I could have stayed forever… But, there was more to look forward to. The boarding call for the Yasawa Flyer ferry sounded, and we were off to our next island destination in the Yasawas. Paradise Cove, unimaginable luxury & island beauty: coming soon, here on the blog!