Fiji by paddle

Kayaking among Fiji’s dreamy Yasawa Islands was a far more exhilarating workout than signing on at a sweaty city gym. Blisters, scratches, sore arms and aching shoulders were all part of the deal and I was wet and salty for much of the time, but with absolutely no complaints. Instead I felt fantastic!

_MG_0130The eight of us taking part in the guided paddling adventure had been lured to the Yasawas by the prospect of doing something challenging in splendid tropical surroundings. Few of us had paddled a sea kayak before.

Blue skies, warm weather, turquoise waters and sandy beaches would be the icing on the cake.

Our Fijian adventure afloat began long before we launched our kayaks off Tavewa Island. To get here from the main Fijian island of Viti Levu we sailed aboard the Yasawa Flyer as far north up the Yasawa chain as the daily catamaran service runs. This voyage from Denerau passes through the delightful Mamanuca Islands en route to the Yasawas. During its daily run, the Yasawa Flyer either drops off or collects guests from various holiday resorts sprinkled throughout the chain of islands.

From Tavewa  we paddled north to spend two nights camped at the village of Navotua on Nathula Island, from where we’d paddle further north to spend another two days and nights acting out Robinson Crusoe fantasies on a tiny deserted islet.

_MG_0073Falling under a spell cast by rhythmic strokes and the constant swaying motion of the waves, I often found myself adrift in pleasant reverie for minutes at a time, then snapped back to the present by a silvery fish abruptly leaping out of the sea. On one occasion a brightly striped sea snake wriggled alongside the kayak for a while.

Every day spent on the water expanded our sense of adventure and achievement. This satisfaction was balm for any resulting minor aches and, having pitched our tents by dusk, we clustered around the dinner table flexing tired limbs with pride.

While at Navotua we paddled across to Sawa-I-La, an island with sharp limestone peaks and deep subterranean caves. Descending into one cave we swam across a deep pool and then, taking a deep breath, dived through an underwater tunnel to reach an adjacent grotto. Exploring by torchlight was an eerie but unforgettable experience.

_MG_0159All this activity amid such splendid surroundings worked small wonders on both mind and body. Our last day was spent paddling all the way back to Tavewa.

By the end of our Yasawa “expedition” on water all of us felt fully justified in celebrating our last evening together in style – which we chose to do with a slap-up dinner at the Nanuya Lailai Island Resort, set beside the famous Blue Lagoon.

I kayaked in Fiji as a guest of  Southern Sea Ventures

Yasawa adventures depart monthly between May and October

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