The beauty of the Fiji Islands, the warmth, happiness and welcome of her island people, provides the perfect place to slow down and reconnect for Elisa Elwin and her two teenage daughters, Sam and Tori.
Mother and daughter time is precious. The hectic pace of kids’ school and sport activities and their buzzing social lives leaves little time to really connect. Fiji has always been our family’s ‘happy place’; the cure for the frantic tempo and pressure, and our mother-daughter week on Blue Lagoon Cruises and Malolo Island Resort gave us back to each other.
We arrived in Nadi after an easy 4-hour flight from Sydney on Fiji Airways. Transferring to Denarau Marina, we picked up a few last minute provisions from the mainland store and then our dedicated South Seas Cruises transfer vessel, ‘Cheetah’,departed the marina for the Sacred Islands, to rendezvous with the Fiji Princess.
BLue Lagoon Cruise’s Fiji Princess was everything we hoped for … a boutique vessel taking us on our ‘Wanderer’ 4 night cruise through the beautiful Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands of Fiji.
Onboard, we chatted with the charming crew, enjoyed the delicious meals and marvelled at the daily parade of islands, including Nanuya Lailai, the island in the movie ‘The Blue Lagoon’. Every stop had endless beautiful coral reefs and my girls were always the last to get back onboard – making the most of snorkelling in the turquoise waters.
Each day we would arrive at a new island, clamber onto the tender, lie under palm trees and venture into the ocean for some of the best snorkelling of our lives. The cruise also offered day trip experiences, from diving with sharks to abseiling down cliff tops for the more adventurous. Maybe next time…
We spent much needed time lazing on the decks in peace and the girls had time to just ‘be’ with each other, essential for sisterly reunion … and they made time for me, poor old Mum! They swam and snorkelled and jumped off the back of the boat – laughed and sang with the crew, sat and told stories, anticipated the following day’s activities and settled into a peaceful ocean rhythm.
One of the most remarkable days for us was spent visiting a local village school – the only one with a high school in the Yasawas. The school is supported by Vinaka Fiji Volunteering, encouraging education for island kids. My daughters went into classrooms, played soccer and games and sang with the laughing gaggle of youngsters who clamoured for their attention.
When they met the smiling high school students, they soon realised how fortunate they were to have the range of educational opportunities and extra curricular activities back home. Far from just a Fiji escape, this holiday became a time for the girls to reflect on how they could give to others who didn’t enjoy the same opportunities in life.
Sam, my eldest daughter, is now planning to join Vinaka Fiji volunteers for a month or two next year, when she finishes her exams. She was so touched by these lovely island school kids and is keen to return and work to help them in their education.
As we disembarked, the crew sang farewell and hugs and fond goodbyes saw us sadly leave all our new friends on the Fiji Princess.
How on earth could our next stop be better?
Blue Lagoon Cruises cater for guests 14 years of age or older, with the exception of some specific cruises during school holidays, which allow children of all ages.
As our small speedboat pulled up to Malolo Island Resort in the Mamanuca Islands, a choir of staff singing the traditional welcome song greeted us and instantly we were at home. We marvelled at the reef off the beach in front of our two-bedroom bure, sat in every chair in the generous living spaces and relished the beauty, calm and peace of this wonderful island.
A gorgeous seafood dinner lit by flares on the pier made our first night a dream … and the sunset over the water was absolutely spellbinding. Chatting and laughing over dinner, we could hear fish splashing under the pier and couldn’t wait to start our daytime adventures.
Malolo Island Resort is a gorgeous destination and the restaurant, pool setting, beachfront café and the living reef right outside our bure were just a few of the highlights.
The girls grabbed the snorkel gear and headed out together at every opportunity, returning with tales of colourful fish and other marine life, before flopping down to relax under the palms.
Our Malolo experience was enriched with an early morning speedboat trip to nearby Monuriki Island, where the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway, was filmed. On this real ‘deserted island’ we ate breakfast and snorkelled on the pristine reef. The girls and I danced on the beach in joy as our wonderful host played the ukulele and sang Fijian songs, in a moment created just for us. On the way back to the island, a pod of dolphins kept us company … total Fiji island joy!
Two languid, lovely days seemed to pass in a blink. Once again, the Malolo Island staff (who had become our friends) sang to us, and we all cried to be leaving this perfect piece of paradise.
Two enchanted days – with every moment a joy – and Malolo Island Resort had won our hearts. We were once again firmly in each other’s lives, with shared memories to last not only through the academic term time ahead, but for a lifetime.
Malolo Island Resort offers a free kids club for 4-12 year olds and plenty of water sports fun for everyone, including hobie cats, kayaking, banana boat rides, windsurfing, coral viewing, dolphin spotting and more.