August 31 - September 2 and September 9 - 11, 2006
The Mamanuca group is about 20 miles west-southwest of Lautoka. Its proximity to Nadi and Lautoka make it a popular destination. The majority of resorts in the islands are in the Mamanucas.
We actually made two different passes through the Mamanucas. We first visited the northernmost island of Navadra from August 31 till September 2 while Tom was still on board with us. Then we visited the more southerly Malolo Lailai and Mana Islands from September 9 through 11 just before checking out of Fiji.
August 31 - September 2, 2006
Our sail from Naviti to Navadra was a bit boisterous and bumpy, and we looked forward to some protection from the wind and seas. The anchorage at Navadra is in the lee of three small islands - Navadra, Vanua Levu, and Vanua Lailai - and it does provide protection from southeasterlies which is what we were experiencing. A few other boats had already tucked inside ahead of us, but there was plenty of room.
As we were heading ashore, another dinghy flagged us down. Their outboard was not working, and they asked if we would tow them the short distance back to their boat. Glad to oblige, we did so. In return, they gave us a large piece of yellowfin tuna they had caught earlier in the day. Dinner was sashimi.
These islands are uninhabited other than a few goats. They also have beautiful terrain and beaches. We went exploring. We found caves, tide pools, and beautiful views of other islands.
Despite the other boats there, this was a very restful anchorage for a few days. It was also a good place for Tom to finish his time in the islands. But we needed to return to Viti Levu so that Tom could fly back to the US, so we left after only a few peaceful days here.
September 9 - 10, 2006
We had a beautiful sail from Vuda Point to Malolo Lailai. And we looked forward to checking out Musket Cove which is the most popular marina in Fiji among cruising sailors. We went to find out why.
Musket Cove is popular because it is very busy, and it appears to have a constant party atmosphere. There is lots to do there, and there are many other sailors around with whom you can do whatever. We were glad to have seen it, but it wasn't for us - way too busy. We left after only one night and went to Mana Island - a few islands further north.
September 10-11, 2006
The pass through the reef in to the lagoon at Mana was another hair-raising experience for us. We barely cleared the bommies and rocks below while having very little clearance on either side. And, to add interest, there was a dog-leg in it. We are getting a bit weary of negotiating the reefs in Fiji. But we made it unscathed, and we anchored in their semi-protected lagoon.
Mana has a relatively large backpackers' resort - Ratu Kini's - as well as the very large Mana Island Resort. We went to the backpackers' resort for lunch, and it was interesting. We later checked out the restaurants at the upscale Mana Island Resort, and they were less interesting although much more expensive. We had dinner on board.
It was Sunday night, and the local church services started shortly after dark. A woman 'sang', and it could only be described as screeching. A male shouted a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon (some messages transcend language differences). And this went on for over two hours at the distorted maximum volume of their poor quality public address system. Not exactly a restful anchorage.
We left the following morning. Although we had planned to return to Navadra, we had discovered that we needed to update our antimalarial medications before leaving for Vanuatu, so rather than Navadra, we headed back to Vuda Point one more time.