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Namena – Once in a Lifetime Trip – Namenalala, Fiji

Namena – Once in a Lifetime Trip

Namenalala, Fiji

The fearless Red Footed Booby
The fearless Red Footed Booby
Sunrise. The Koro Sea. Here is the emerald jewel of Namenalala, Fiji. The birds sing the same mystifying calls that they have sung for thousands of years as the island stirs from its slumber; Namena is awake for another day.

Days on Namena offer sheer luxury, warm smiles, excellent food and dive opportunities that are out of this world. The pristine barrier reef circles the entire island and offers divers the chance to see some of the best soft coral on the globe. The flora and fauna of the island are similarly spectacular and the white sandy beach is a picture taken straight from Robinson Crusoe. Namena and her surrounding waters are deeply treasured by all who stay in her warmth and natural setting.

Joan and Tom Moody built and own Namena’s resort. Tom founded the 110-acre island in 1983. After camping on Namena for two weeks he decided to take one acre to develop his resort and leave the rest in natural bliss. Tom and Joan are good people with fascinating stories to tell. They make a trip to such an isolated island easy. So easy it will have to be repeated.

Six secluded traditional bures (homes) are dotted along the coastline of this heavenly isle, set amidst native bush and framed between sky and ocean. Five of the bures are perched on the cliff top enabling you to drink in the panoramic views and blissful trade winds in total seclusion. The sixth bure is located on the beach side where the ocean will lap the sand and lull you to sleep each night.

The hexagonal shape of each bure is something very unique. The doors on several walls can be slid open and offer 180 degree panoramas of the ocean and the spectacular displays at sunset. Whilst relaxing out on your deck in total seclusion no care in the world will remain. Each bure is built and decorated with native and natural products reflecting and blending with the environment in which it is found.

Oil lamps burn after dark, illuminating each tropical home and lighting the way to the dining room down the forest path. The light rhythm of the lali (drum) will break through the natural tranquillity of the island three times a day to beckon you to meals. The dining room welcomes you for an intimate dinner or a lunchtime exchanging dive stories with fellow guests or your hosts. The menu is home cooked and 100% natural, special diets can be catered for easily. Fresh tropical fruit platters and pineapple pancakes for breakfast may start your day which will then be ended with a veritable feast. John, oversees the dining room and with his charming smile and attentive manner you will receive the best service. He may even offer a class in napkin folding if you asked him nicely. Everybody is made to feel so comfortable in such exquisite surroundings.

You will need the good food if you take advantage of the diving opportunities that Namena boasts. An attentive and extremely professional dive crew run two dive trips a day for certified divers. Small boat rides of 10 to 20 minutes transfer you to the most mind-blowing, pristine dive sites. Soft coral abounds and the diversity of marine life is awesome. Rare nudibranch and blue-ribbon eels thrive in this immaculate ecosystem. The dive sites offer a great diversity, whether you wish to examine the miniature or the massive of the pelagic realm.

I thought that nothing could offer enough reward or compensation for my dive training that took place in water of 4° C in a grotty murky quarry in the UK. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Namena made up for every shallow breath, every drop of icy water and every hour of the day spent defrosting my limbs after my first and failed open water session. Fellow divers proclaimed that Namena offers the best soft coral sites in the world. I wholeheartedly agree. You will spoil yourselves on this reef and nothing will compare when it comes to the colours and vibrancy of the coral and the diverse and abundant marine life that the reef provides home for. I was nervous at the prospect of our first dive in open water as certified divers. Paul was a lot more confident than me but I just wanted that extra bit of reassurance that everything would be ok. It was more than ok. Tom and Joan suggested Victor, the Divemaster, should take us for a quick dive off the resort’s jetty in calm and shallow waters as we were just certified with limited experience. This served as much assistance for the dive crew as it did for us. For my husband and I it was great chance to make sure our buoyancy was perfect and it was a great and easy refresher in much warmer waters from our certification two months ago. For Victor it was chance to assess our abilities and plan dive trips accordingly.

The view from our bure at sunset
The view from our bure at sunset
So that afternoon our first dive trip on Namena’s reef was at ‘The Chimneys’. Two pinnacles festooned with the most remarkable soft coral and fascinating marine life. There was strong current but Victor was ever present offering security and guidance throughout the dive. We enjoyed the dive tremendously and as we made our safety stop at five metres, at the top of the pinnacle, we exchanged glances of awe as we looked down on one chimney. We had been privileged guests for forty minutes in the most amazing and pristine ecosystem.

The ecosystem of the land also deserves much attention. The natural flora and fauna of the isle will interest nature lovers. Banded Rails, Long-tailed Tropicbirds and Red-Footed Boobys are your neighbours and turtles rely upon Namena for a place to nest. The call of the Red Footed booby transfers you to a prehistoric time as their call shrieks in the midday sun. You can easily walk the mile from one end of the island to the other, taking in the natural and man-made wonders of the place. Footpaths are carved through the forest. At the top of the island is a special archaeological site, of an ancient civilisation. A peculiar arrangement of rocks begs the question of the island’s past; a meeting place? An eating-place? A place of worship? As you ponder these questions the Boobys will clown around investigating you. They have no natural predators and their fearless attitude is beyond belief as they want to find out who the new visitor is to their Namenalala — their empty isle.

You can choose to unwind in absolute seclusion, walk the forest tracks or kayak the local waters and circumnavigate the island. Namena also offers great opportunities to snorkel and observe the great diversity of marine life near the ocean’s surface. Fishing trips from the island can be arranged following which you can eat your own catch at the end of the day after the chef has prepared it. Such is the warmth and friendliness of the place that if you wanted to help prepare the dish that could also be arranged!

The beach offers total pleasure, relaxation and seclusion and some really comfortable hammocks. Nothing will feel sweeter than basking in its support gazing down to the sand and sea. If you choose, a stroll down the beach will be rewarded with a champagne picnic that can be left in the shade until your arrival and picked up when you walk home to your bure. A divine treat that really spoils and is ideal for the romantic in all of us.

Not enough praise can be given to the staff crew at Namena. A friendly and gracious crew will attend to your every need. Special touches include fresh flower arrangements in your room every day and chilled water in flasks on your dressing table. Kava parties on Saturday night with the staff are informal and friendly, exchanging stories of home and travel and partaking in a ‘high tide’ or a ‘low tide’ if you wish. The singing and music of the ukulele and guitar is a special gift provided by the staff during the Kava parties. As is their knowledge, pride and graciousness should you want any questions answered regarding Fijian culture. Fun volleyball matches can be organised on the sand with the staff after which, for your refreshment, you may be lucky enough to be shown how exactly to crack a coconut and drink its juice.

Some of the awesome coral named 'The Window of Dreams'
Some of the awesome coral named ‘The Window of Dreams’
Moody’s Namena is a resort in harmony with the natural beauty in which it is found. It is an idyllic place, close to the natural world, that far too often we divorce ourselves from. Namenalala means ‘empty isle’ but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Namena is full of life, stories, welcome and warmth. A trip to Namena is a once in a lifetime experience that will provide relaxation and tranquillity coupled with as much adventure and exertion as you want.

At the end of the day the sun eases towards the horizon and casts a thousand shades of red and gold in to the sky. Watch this magnificent show from the deck of your bure and watch as frigate birds berate the other sea birds and steal their food. The quiet indulgence of this paradise leaves the soul revived and memory full of a very special place.

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