Advantages Beautiful and relaxing
Disadvantages the sun will burn you to crisp if you're not careful
|Value for Money|
|Quality of Rooms|
|Standard of Service|
|Quality of Food & Drink|
|Quality of Facilities|
Back in January when bf and I were booking our trip to New Zealand he thought it would be a good idea for us to make a short trip to Fiji. This was mainly because we were staying with our friends that were getting married for a couple of weeks before their wedding and he thought they might appreciate not having to drag us around constantly. Admittedly, we could have gone somewhere else in New Zealand but he had his heart set on Fiji, so Fiji it was (as he was paying…)
On the day we were flying out we were at the airport at 6 am. We were flying out from Palmerston North which is a tiny airport, but as I always have to be everywhere early I insisted that we get there on time. Something that we were not told while booking any of our tickets in the UK is that in New Zealand you always have to pay a departure tax which is not included in your ticket price. This is payable before you go through security.
Now for the interesting part. As we went to check in they took a cursory look at our passports and tickets. I didn't get any comments on how my passport was nearly too old as I had had in every other airport I'd been to so far. When bf had put the suitcase up to be weighed the lady checking us in asked him to carry it into a small room on the opposite side to the check-in desk. A little bit strange I thought - but hey - technology is not the be all and end all. When he came back she told him to get up on the suitcase scales himself. 'Hmmm' - I thought to myself, 'I wonder if this might be a small plane'. I thought check-in woman might show some mercy and let me off being weighed, but oh no, no mercy for me. I had to get up and weighed with all my hand luggage and everything strapped around me - not a great experience! After this was done she told us to go off and come back to the check in desk at 11.55. As our plane was due to take off at 12.00 I asked several times whether this was correct but she insisted it was. At 11.50 we came back and the lady asked us to follow her. On the way to security she picked up 3 other people that were apparently flying in the same plane. We went through security but there was nobody there to check the bags as we put them through and when the machine beeped the lady just ignored it and told us to move it!
After about 10 minutes the plane started to descend but as I looked down I started to feel slightly worried as there was nothing there to land on. Finally I saw the shortest landing strip in history - just water, a little bit of grass and then water again. Amazingly (or maybe not, I guess he's done it a few times before, but it seemed amazing to me) the pilot managed to land on the tiny little tuft of grass. As it turned out this was not Mana Island but Plantation Island where the other 3 passengers got off. When everybody, including the pilot who helped carry some bags, left the plane we tried to take a sneaky photo as we realised nobody would ever believe us when we told them about the size of the plane. The pilot came back and managed to catch us taking photos but he was more than happy to pose for a photo outside the plane and we got to feel like proper tourists.
As we had to wait for our bure to be cleaned we had a walk around, played some table tennis in the games room and then gave up trying to be active as we were still wearing jeans in 35 degrees heat. Just enough time for a drink by the beach-side bar then. When we finally got the key for our island bure we were more than ready to get changed into our swimming gear and go for a dip in the beautiful pool. Our bure consisted of one big room with a double bed, a desk, 3 chairs, 1 small table and 2 bedside tables. The bathroom was a decent size and sparkling clean (I always check, just in case). However, we didn't have air-conditioning, just a ceiling fan, and considered upgrading because of this. There are several different styles of bures you can choose from, some are more 'hotel-style like' and others are bigger and more exclusive. However, I don't think any of them offers a TV. In fact, the whole time I was on the island I didn't see a TV anywhere - what a relief! There are also specific honeymoon bures which are on the other side of the airstrip from all the other bures, just a couple of metres from the high tide mark. However, there are about 5 of them, all of which are right next to each other, something I found a little bit odd. Then again I guess that they will most probably not all be occupied at the same time. In the end we decided to stay in our bure the first night and if we felt the need for air-conditioning we would upgrade the day after.
In the afternoon we went down to the water sports centre and got a kayak. Before we left I went back to the bure to put on some more sunscreen. Now, as I am the palest shade of pale I normally wear spf 40 or so, but I thought it would be enough to put on spf 15 before going out in a kayak on the ocean. Don't ask me why, I should know by now that this is not a good idea, certainly not in this area which has hardly any ozone layer covering it. There is no prize for guessing how much I burnt…The rest of the day we both had to sit in the shade in the pool and try to cool down. By the evening we were still in pain but went for a meal at the buffet bar and a cold drink on the beach. It was absolutely beautiful to sit outside at night as the temperature dropped to about 25 degrees and in the dark you could see thunder storms in the distance (beautiful in the distance but I was glad that they stayed there too).
On our last day we were both ridiculously burnt so we decided not to go on any more outings but just hang out by the pool (in the shade mind) and try to keep cool.
I had the best of times on Mana Island, it was incredibly relaxing and the locals are ever so friendly, always greeting you with a cheery 'Bula'. In fact, everybody said Bula to each other constantly; it did get a bit on my nerves in the end I must admit. The best advice I can give is to pack plenty of sun block and USE IT! Don't make the same mistake I did, it really isn't worth it. I had blisters all over my body for weeks after - not a good look, I tell you. The resort organises activities for children and adults alike throughout the day if you are interested in that kind of thing. The activities could be anything from deep water fishing to music lessons and are, of course, free. I enjoyed just walking on the beach at sunset and chase the little, white and super quick crabs around.
I would recommend most people to visit Mana at some point in life. It is a very relaxing place and Fiji is absolutely stunning. Mana Island resort caters for families, couples and singles alike, and there is something here for most people. If you are after an active holiday, are scared of flying small, dodgy planes or if you're after a club 18-30 type holidays, this will not be for you. For anybody else I think it would make a truly memorable holiday.
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