Lost in Paradise – Yasawa Island, South Pacific

Lost in Paradise - Yasawa Island, Fijian Islands

If I ever get lost in the mountains please send a St Bernard to rescue me…

But if I ever manage to get lost here, could you just send another cocktail, one’s never enough as the sun sets over the South Pacific!

Ps: Don’t bother rescuing me!

photo: Baz, The Landy

How good are these Fijian kids! (They’ll tug at your heart)

On our recent holiday in Fiji we were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Bukama Village not far from where we were staying, Yasawa Island Resort.

The Resort is a good source of income for the village as it leases the land it is built on and many from the village are employed within the resort. 

On our arrival at the village we were greeted by the Chief’s representative and welcomed into the village, which is home to around 400 people.  The Chief was away on the mainland at the time on village business.

The highlight was a concert given by the local school children, it was hard not to be moved by their warm hearts and loud singing! And TomO, our son, presented a box of school books, colouring pens, and other school aids that he had purchased in Australia in anticipation of our village visit.

And TomO was invited back to the village the next day, Friday, to take part in the schools sport afternoon. A game of soccer with the village children. He loved it and said  it was one of the highlights for him on this trip to Fiji. And the village children welcomed him as one of their own…

I took some footage of the children singing, so please enjoy!

Put away the beer glasses (The holiday’s are over)

It is fair to say I have just had a great break by any measure. Climbing in New Zealand, holidaying on a South Pacific Island. Oh to be shipwrecked!

And the last few days have been spent kayaking with a bit of running thrown in for good measure.

 My usual exercise routine has been thrown out slightly, and exercise in Fiji was limited to walking to the dining area, and cocktail hour! And we loved it…for a change. I sat back and relaxed in Fiji, on that near deserted island, and must say I have enjoyed a few beers here and there. Okay most days since Fiji!

But the whistle has been blown and it is time to knuckle back down into training for my next climbing expedition to New Zealand in January. I have a good feel for what I need to focus on over the next three months and with summer time and longer days ahead I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Lots of high intensity cardio, and hill climbs with a 30-kilogram backpack.  And the kettle bells will get a solid workout along with the C2 rowing machine.  I’ve just finished a 10,000-metre row and must say it was refreshing after a three-week hiatus!

And January seems a long way off, but the weeks will speed by and Mt Aspiring beckons!

Cheers, Um with a mineral water today!

Dolphins at Play – Wananavu (Fantastic!)

Our visit to Blue Lagoon Caves on Yasawa Island, Fiji, was rewarded with an encounter with a large pod of dolphins.

It is hard not to marvel at these wonderful sea creatures.

We spent time just drifting, watching them frolic and dive around the front of the boat. One was even doing large jumps out of the water, spinning in the air, before diving back in to the water.

Crikey, you couldn’t pay enough money to see such a show.

The Caves, the setting for the 1980’s movie, Blue Lagoon, were spectacular; we swam inside the outer cave, before diving underwater to access the inner cave.  It was quite dark inside the second cave, but equally as spectacular.

And if you are ever going to be shipwrecked in the South Pacific, this is the place for it too happen.

Anyway, why don’t you just jump in the boat with me and take a short ride to check it out and watch the dolphins play…and check out that sunset!

Sa yawa (Awesome)

Awesome is a word I love to use regularly, in fact I try to use it each and every day. Even better if you can express it in someone else’s language and as we are currently in Fiji I am going to use the local translation, which is sa yawa, pronounced sah-yah-wah.

 Those who have visited Fiji will understand how easy it is to use the expression sa yawa. The Fijian people are awesome, their friendly smiling faces warming your heart from the inside and wherever you travel you’ll be greeted with Bula and a big smile…

 The coastline and beaches are inviting.

Today we took a 45-minute boat ride along the coast to the Blue Lagoon Caves. These are limestone caves made famous in the 1980’s movie, Blue Lagoon, starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. But putting aside the movie, the caves, one of which you need to dive underwater to access, are absolutely spectacular, dare I say sa yawa!

Our guide swam ahead and lit up the cave with a torch and as we followed we were struck by the cave’s beauty. Swimming in a cave was a first for Janet, TomO, and myself, and many of the others who had joined us today.

The boat ride along the coast was just as rewarding, and we were lucky to encounter a large pod of dolphins that swam around the boat, performing amazing jumps up out of the water.

The food has also been sa yawa. We’ve enjoyed a traditional Fijian Lovo, where the food is prepared in a pit over hot coals and we feasted on various meats, including freshly caught lobster from the surrounding area.

And while we waited for the Lovo to be ready local villagers performed traditional dances.

Crikey, it would be easy to write much more, but why don’t I just let the photos do the talking…

Sa yawa.

Va cava tiko (How’s it going)

I have always found there is something very romantic about the South Pacific. Palm trees swaying gently in a balmy late afternoon sea breeze. The sun gracefully sliding towards the western horizon in a warm glow of burnt orange as the sea caresses the golden grains of sand on a faraway beach…

 As a boy growing up I was an avid reader of the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, so it should come as little surprise that places like Yasawa Island were the playgrounds of my mind…

After a relatively short flight of fours hours from Australia, and another thirty minute flight in a small aircraft we arrived at the beautiful Yasawa Island Group in Fiji.


The welcome was warm and friendly.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner accompanied with a few wines, a restful sleep, before heading off for a snorkel this morning.

We weren’t disappointed!

Our week ahead promises to be one of fun and laughter, perhaps romance, with Janet, my partner, and TomO, our 12 year-old son. TomO has taken an active interest in girls over the past few months, and with a couple here around his age it will be interesting to watch…

After all, this was the setting for the movie Blue Lagoon…

 Va cava tiko: How’s it going!! (Pronounced vah-cah-vah-tee-koh) 


You don’t know how lucky you are!

I was mentioning the other day about how excited (very excited) I am about an upcoming trip I have to New Zealand. I depart in two weeks to further my climbing and mountaineering experience in preparation for some upcoming trips to New Zealand and the Himalayas in 2013.  

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

I have a whole week climbing some smaller peaks in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s south island, along with some ice-climbing, and we might even camp out if it isn’t too cold.

Anyway, over dinner last night, Janet, my partner, casually remarked to me…

“You don’t know how lucky you are.” 

It is a favourite saying in her family, but usually reserved for occasions when you have been spoilt, been very spoilt!

I’ve heard it often!

Sensibly, I approached the comment with caution, not sure if this was serious or mischief, although odds-on it was mischief in the making. It wasn’t my birthday, it was unlikely I was getting a gift or present, besides with all the climbing gear I have bought recently even TomO, our son, remarked that I had already received my Christmas presents…for the next few years! (note to self, tell Janet about the new back-pack)

“Have you thought about all the activities and holidays you are about to embark on?”

I sensed where this was heading and there was a cheeky glint in both of their eyes, but in the interest of self-preservation I played dumb, which isn’t too hard for me!

You see, we were due to have a holiday in April this year on a tropical island located in the island nation of Fiji in the romantic South Pacific.  As it turns out on the very island, Yasawa Island, that was featured in the movie Blue Lagoon.  However, due to extreme weather it had to be postponed to this September as you could not even get to the small resort by boat or plane at the time.

The holiday was planned as a thank you to Janet from her boys for putting up with one who is rapidly approaching puberty and the other that hasn’t grown up yet…

I’m sure you’ve got it figured who’s who in the zoo here…

Anyway, this is the cool bit.

I head to New Zealand and the tail-end of its winter on a Friday. The day after I return I am participating in Tough Mudder, a 20-kilometre commando style course peppered with obstacles that you have to jump over, climb over, hurdle flaming hay bales, and even get zapped by 10,000 volts after being submerged in ice-cold water (is that supposed to be fun?) and then, get this, onto Fiji the very next day.

Mind you, our flight to Fiji is at silly-o’clock in the morning, and there is a chance, okay a big chance, there will be a few beers after Tough Mudder, either that or I’ll be in the back of an ambulance or something similar suffering third degree burns, or hypothermia…

And Janet added,

“if that isn’t enough when we get home from Fiji we are going to the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, to do some climbing and abseiling for a few days”…

I’m betting that while TomO and I climb, Janet will be putting the credit card through its paces in the quaint galleries and dress shops that are a part of the Blue Mountains scene…

And who would I be to complain!

Yes, I don’t know how lucky I am…What do you think?