Out on Mana Island in Fiji, it's overcast yet again, but I am determined to go, hopping a boat ride and recruiting other backpackers from our resort for the minimum number required. The tiny boat is full with eight of us from different countries, like the United Nations taking off on an exploration in the middle of the Pacific. There are no other boats in sight. Strangely the two boatmen are dressed in rain gear. I am excited to snorkel for the first time and our fun group is ready to see some other little islands.
It's a bumpy ride as we speed against the waves. We soon realize how cold it is – no turning back now (we paid extra for this trip). Soon the water is slapping us in the face. I look back to see everyone drenched, getting their towels to stay dry – teeth chattering, faces turning blue. We put on our snorkelling masks; at least we can see what is going on. We're in shock – wet and cold. "Are we there yet?" we ask our driver. This is not fun, but you know it will be funny looking back and that keeps us going.
We arrive at our first stopover and stumble onto a beautiful resort where people are relaxing. We appear to have just climbed out of the arctic. All eyes turn to gawk at us. Hopping in the inviting looking pool only makes matters worse, so we try the exersise bikes facing the ocean, but we can hardly move our frozen muscles. We remember there are only cold showers back at our resort. We find out there are hot showers here. We don't want to go back.
The Swiss guy orders a coffee. Two teas arrive, followed later by an ice coffee. This sends us into giggles as he wonders, "How this happen?". We sit like scavengers, getting any warmth we can. The boat drivers are ready to continue our journey. The last thing we want to do is get back into that boat, but with our belongings on another island, we must return. We tell them to skip our snorkelling island, head back, maybe stopping at one that's on the way.
Once on the boat we brace ourselves for the wet again, we put the big blue tarp over our heads. We can hardly breathe, but we start to warm up. Pulling up to the uninhabited Honeymoon Island, we jump around the tiny paradise, looney as can be to the amusement of the caretaker, enjoying the sun and warm water for the first time. There's an ideal swing hung on a palm tree, with nothing but powdery white sand and stunning blue ocean in front of it. They had to drag us off this island and back into the open sea.
The caretaker joins us on the boat. It's suspiciously smooth back to our island. They drive slowly; no one gets wet. What a good way to hasten the island hopping for the unsuspecting backpackers, out for a good time! We're still frozen and have completely lost the plot, but what a time we had – and a story to tell.