Malolo Lailai - "The Island"

Being on the island of Malolo Lailai made me feel like I was in an episode of "Lost"... as soon as you left the confines of the resort, you were in the wilderness. The only sounds were the wind blowing and the birds chirping. It felt like "Others" were going to jump out of the bushes and attack me.

Malolo Lailai is a beautiful and mountainous island surrounded by amazing coral reefs. Hiking trails cover the island and there are many hidden coves and beaches that you can journey to. There is also a relatively large local population that lives on the bigger island (which you see in the distance in picture 2). In this case, the "Others" were extremely friendly and helpful. Hope to come back some day!

The Resort at Musket Cove

Looking down at Musket Cove Resort
If I was asked to describe Musket Cove Resort in one statement, it would be "laid back luxury". If you wanted to hang out in the spa, hire a private sailboat, or arrange for a private picnic on the beach, there was someone at the resort that would do that for you (at a cost)... or if you wanted to borrow a kayak for the day and find your own private beach, you could do that as well (for free). I've stayed in many luxury resorts that would charge you for every little extra thing, but Musket Cove wasn't like that at all. In fact, they even encouraged guests to go to a local market for food and hand crafted souvenirs. You definitely got what you paid for... and they made you feel like part of a community.

Welcoming beach party
The watersports area.. free snorkel gear, kayaks, and wind surfing equipment for all (I had some struggles with the wind surfing stuff) 
A true "house boat"
Looking at my beach front villa accomodations

Sunrise Hike at Malolo Lailai

I took these photos on my last day in Fiji. I had woken up before the sun in order to go on one final surf mission. However, the wind was blowing the wrong direction, it was raining, and the swell had dropped... so I decided to not go. As I was walking back to my villa (to go back to sleep), I noticed a break in the clouds... and it looked like the sun might peak out. Therefore, I decided to grab my camera and go for a hike. The cool thing about the island of Malolo Lailai is that it is one big hiking trail and you can basically go wherever you want (granted you have the energy). I started at the base of a beach and climbed over a little mountain to a clearing I spotted the day prior. From what I saw, it looked like a good spot to watch the sunrise over the big island of Viti Levu (which you see in the background). I'm not sure if these pictures do it justice... but the sunrise was spectacular. I would have liked to go surfing one more time prior to my departure, but this was a pretty decent consolation prize. Hope you enjoy!

More Fijian Gold

On this particular evening in Fiji, I picked out a quiet spot on the edge of the island to sit back and watch the sunset. It was the first evening that we had clouds and I figured that the clouds might make for a nice sunset... I was right! The view was pretty spectacular. Nothing more relaxing than opening a good bottle of wine and watching the sun go down over the water.

These photos were taken over the harbor at Musket Cove Resort.

The clouds look like they are swirling in this picture

My Fijian Adventure - "The Three Palms"

This photo was taken at Musket Cove Resort about 40 minutes after the sun had set. There was still a bit of light coming from the horizon and I set my camera to a 30 second exposure to try and capture as much light as possible (used a beach chair as a "makeshift tripod"). The three palm trees in the foreground definitely made for a much more unique perspective (which way do you think the wind blows??). You can notice a bit of a blur in the palms as the wind was blowing slightly. 

My Fijian Adventure - Surf Transfers

One of the daily adventures in Fiji was trying to hire a boat to take me out to the outer reefs. Since I was the only surfer in my group (parents don't surf), I had to find others to share the boat with me (the boat drivers didn't want to do solo trips unless you paid double). It wasn't too difficult to find others since there were a lot of Aussie surfers at the resort. However, all of the boats were on "Fiji time"... which meant that you needed to reserve a time 30-60 minutes before you actually wanted to go out. After the first couple days, I figured out the schedule and it wasn't much of a problem. The boat drivers were very friendly (had the warm polynesian hospitality)... they took us wherever wanted to go and stayed out as long as we wanted to stay out. They also had a lot of local knowledge and knew which break would be the best at any given moment. It was definitely worth the money!

Here you see a surfer coming back from one of the surf transfers at low tide. 

My Fijian Adventure - "Island Life"

This gives a whole new meaning to "taking the bus to school"
One day while staying in Fiji, we decided to hire a boat and go to one of the local villages: Shell Village. My mom wanted to do some shopping and I thought it would be cool to check out the local culture. When we got to the village, school had just gotten out... and instead of waiting for the bus to take them home, the children were waiting for a boat to take them home. I thought that was pretty rad! Imagine going to school on the beach... and being barefoot in the classroom! Everyone I met in the village was super friendly, had great smiles, and made me appreciate the warm Polynesian culture. The craftsmanship on the local goods was also very nice... especially the wood carvings.

barefoot classrooms 
A local craftsman hard at work... Fiji has some amazing wood carvings.
Kids being kids
These flowers were everywhere... actually got kind of sick of them after a while

My Fijian Adventure - Wandering Around at Low Tide

In another 30 minutes, that boat would be on dry reef
I decided to wander around Musket Cove Resort during low tide... and these images represent some of the things that I saw (need to be careful where you step during low tide... lots of coral sticking out). Has anyone ever seen a blue starfish? 

Has anyone ever seen a blue starfish? 
Careful where you step!

Wedding... "Fiji Style"

As I was paddling around the lagoon between two islands in Fiji, I noticed boats carrying supplies back and forth from a sandbar in the middle of the ocean. After watching them for a little bit, I realized that they were setting up for a wedding. Imagine having or going to a wedding in the middle of the ocean... I think it would be pretty incredible. I thought about sticking around to watch the ceremony, but I had already gotten a lot of sun and decided to cruise back to the shade of some palm trees. However, before I bailed, I decided to take a few photos.

My Fijian Adventure - "My Slice of Paradise"

My Fijian Adventure - Exploring the Ocean

About a mile out to sea (from Malolo Lailai Island in Fiji), a sandbar forms between two reefs at low tide. I decided to take a kayak, my camera, some snorkel gear, water, and A LOT of sunscreen with me to this amazing spot. I started my journey around medium tide... so the sandbar had not shown yet. However, I scouted out the spot the day prior (when I was passing by on a boat to go surfing) and had a pretty good idea where it would form. A mile paddle on a kayak is relatively easy in calm seas... but I had a lingering fear that my camera would fall out and get destroyed. Therefore, I went a bit slower than I otherwise would have (and wrapped my camera up in several plastic bags, a camera case, and a backpack).

When I floated up to the spot, a sliver of sand had started to show (as seen in the top image). It was incredible to be in the middle of the ocean with no one else around me... and no sounds other than the ocean and an occasional boat. As the tide continued to drop, the sandbar continued to grow... at its biggest, it's about a half mile in length. However, like anything in the ocean, it's constantly changing... and by the day I left, it had shifted a couple hundred meters to the south.

Surrounding the sandbar are coral reefs... and just outside the reefs, the ocean depth drops rather significantly. This made for some incredible snorkeling! (which is why I brought the snorkel gear) I did some free dives down to the ocean floor and was surrounded by hundreds of colorful fish. It was a pretty rad experience.

In the second image (with sailboat), you can see how shallow the ocean is in this area. During low tide, boats coming to/from the island had to take a much longer route to avoid the reefs. If I had wanted to, I could have walked all the way to where that sailboat was.

My Fijian Adventure - "A Million Dollar View"

About a mile out to sea (near Malolo Lailai island in Fiji), there is a sandbar that forms between two reefs. The sand only shows at low tide, but it's no more than ankle deep in most areas. I took a kayak and some snorkel gear out to this spot at medium tide and just relaxed as the water drained. When I first got here, I was completely by myself (all I could hear was the ocean and an occasional boat). It was quite a surreal experience... truly a "million dollar view".

My Fijian Adventure - Plantation Island Golf Course

The best (and only) golf course on Malolo Lailai: Plantation Island Golf Course. What the golf course lacks in maintenance, it makes up for with breathtaking views like this. I went to play a round of golf with my father and the cost was only 28 FJD (equivalent of 15 USD)... the rate even included clubs, a cart, and balls (which you had to pay for if you lost... only lost 1!). We thought that we might need to make reservations to play, but we were actually the only ones on the course. I was rather shocked... but after walking to the first hole and looking at the non-existant fairway, I realized why we were the only people. Nonetheless, you can't beat a $15 round of golf on a ocean front golf course. 

Is that a green or the rough?
Going for triple bogey in some great golf shoes