This morning, we leisurely headed down to breakfast about 9.00am. The kids loved that it was an all you can eat buffet, and Zach particularly loved the egg station, where you could request eggs cooked any way and it would be done there and then in front of you. There was lots of fruit (pineapple, watermelon etc) and interesting things like Indian flatbread.
As our transfer wasn’t until the afternoon, we spent the morning by the pool, reading books and just relaxing in the sun. The kids had a mocktail each called a Lemonade Pinky which looked sickeningly sweet to me, but they seemed to enjoy it!
We took a minibus taxi out to Denarau, rather than waiting for the courtesy coach transfer, as we wanted to have lunch there and a wander around the shops. As we drove through Nadi, the taxi driver explained to us that the town centre is being slowly moved onto the other side of the river, because where it is currently located it’s too low and prone to flooding, which is becoming more frequent with global warming and climate change.
I was impressed at how much has changed since I was last here. The roads are new and wide, there are traffic lights and a few international brands are popping up such as Burger King. Apparently there is a lot of Chinese money being used for infrastructure.
It’s a far cry from the holidays in my early formative years where we drove on narrow dusty roads, and then had to walk a wee plank onto a dingy and get taken out to the ferry which would be anchored out in the deep water. It’s all very commercialised and easy now which is great, but somehow loses a bit of its magic for us dinosaurs who have watched the many changes along the way.
At Denarau, the counter for the Malolo Cat was closed until 1.00pm which wasn’t ideal as we had our suitcases and had wanted to go shopping, however we’re on holidays, so no worriessssss!
We headed down to the Hard Rock Café. It’s an institution here, as it is in many other centres around the world. We’ve been here multiple times and most times have impressed with the quality of the food (but twice it has been just appalling). We crossed our fingers and ordered lunch.
The staff were great, looking after our bags behind the reception counter while we ate. The food was exceptional, which was a relief. All five of us enjoyed our meals and ate our fill, Amber eating a massive rib eyed steak and full plate of vegetables that left me wondering how she’d manage to actually move afterwards, while watching a Myna bird eating a dead Myna bird. Cannibalism at its finest and with an audience! This bird was throwing the dead one around, and slamming it on the ground before flinging it in the air, I’ve never seen a performance quite like it…
After lunch, we headed back to the Malolo Cat counter and checked our bags in for the ferry. We were given plastic boarding passes and our bags had coloured tags attached to them with our surname written on them (the colours corresponded to the resort you’re going to). The Malolo Cat travels back and forth multiple times each day to the island of Malolo LaiLai, which is where Plantation Island Resort, Lomani Resort and Musket Cove Resort are all located.
Back in the day, there was one ferry that went around all the islands in the Mamanuca group, so you would climb aboard and settle in as you were there sometimes for hours. Now, it’s far more structured and is used purely as a means of transport rather than a part of the holiday and destination itself. But it’s quick! 50 minutes and you’re there in paradise so I guess that makes it okay!
Once we were checked in, we went and had a look around the shops. Jacks Handicrafts have been around since I was a little girl, and they now have branches at Denarau, Lautoka and Suva, as well as Nadi. The kids loved this shop and we spent almost an hour there, the kids clutching their wallets, while their Fijian currency burned a hole through to their hands.
Decisions are far tougher when you have spending money and can’t just ask your parents for everything. We teach the kids about budgeting and holidays are the best place for lessons like this. They all did really well, after a gentle reminder that this is only day one!
Normally we buy our drinking water in bulk at the supermarket at Denarau but today we decided against it as it’s such a pain lugging a crate of water around. We thought we’d just buy it as we needed it on the island. Turned out we didn’t need to (more on that later).
The Malolo Cat IV departed at 2.00pm. It was quite a windy day, and the sea had a fairly big swell. The windows were smeared with the remains of salty waves lashing the side, and when I found out that families with children had to sit inside and weren’t allowed on the upper deck, I took a Sealegs tablet. Having been on a cruise recently and found out what seasickness feels like, I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience.
It was rough but not scary on the way out to the island. We cut a direct track and the worst part was coming around the island itself where our Catamaran had to tack around across the waves, some of which were quite sizeable.
We pulled into the jetty at Plantation Island to see kids on inflatable obstacle courses, people snorkelling everywhere and lots of canoes and paddleboards out paddling around. It looked truly blissful.
Staff were on the jetty singing a welcome song in Fijian, with guitars, ukuleles and lots of hand clapping. Their lilting harmonies carried to us in the breeze, and it felt like we were stepping into paradise.
Guests who were returning were sent straight to reception to get their keys and those of us “newbies” were taken to a big hall where we were given our registration forms to fill out. In our welcome pack was our room key, a map and some information about things like sea lice stings.
I was really impressed when they gave each of us a 1 litre bottle of water, and explained that there were various refill stations around the resort. What a brilliant idea, and it saves SO much money, especially when you have a family. As you can’t drink out of the taps on the island, it costs quite a lot to keep your family hydrated in the heat, and to be able to just go and fill up the bottles every few days was fantastic. The bottles were given to us in blue canvas beach-bags, which also ended up being very handy, and were taken to the beach every day.
We were told that there are 3 pools, and 3 restaurants at the resort, and you can also go to the restaurants at the adjoining resorts, and charge back to your room which is really handy.
After our welcome (and a refreshing mango juice) we were escorted to our room. We were in bure 402 and while being taken there, I was a bit apprehensive as it felt a long way from the main part of the resort. It turned out that although there are 26 acres of land at the resort, it’s split into 3 main parts, and all are a quick walk down a wide road to the main area.
Our room looked out across gardens to one of the pools. The room is spacious, and I really liked that they have a separate toilet and sink. When you’re travelling with self conscious teens who lock themselves away every time they need to do something and take forever in the bathroom, the extra room comes in handy!
Our room has two bedrooms and a huge lounge, which has 3 couches that are actually full size single beds, so you could sleep 7 or 8 people quite comfortably in them. We put Zac in the lounge and the girls had the second bedroom.
The kids wanted to hit the beach straight away but as the day was quickly escaping away on us, we decided to just relax, have a look around and an early night. We played a few games of cards, and then headed to the main restaurant for dinner.
We’d prepaid for a full meal plan which was ideal as the kids could go crazy with the buffet and we didn’t need to panic about what the bill at the end would be. Lunches are a la carte but breakfast and dinner are both buffet. There is also a beach snack bar that does takeaway pizza and burgers etc, and a fine dining restaurant called the Black Opal.
Dinner tonight was a Mediterranean buffet. Items served included lasagne, and a make-your-own pasta station where you gathered your ingredients which were then quickly cooked in front of you. Dessert was lots of fresh fruit, and chocolate pudding with hot fudge sauce… Not too bad at all!
As we ate, a band played in the background singing classic songs from mainly the 80’s. It was lovely and the main singer was exceptional.
We had an early night tonight. I had known that there would be no tv’s on the island, so had a device (ipad or ipod or phone etc) for each kid and an ipad for Jase and I, that I had downloaded a pile of movies suited to each of us individually that we could watch offline.
Jase and I started watching a movie, but only got half way through and called it a night. We’re quite knackered and looking forward to getting our island swagger on tomorrow 🙂