Date: 5/27/2008 1:21:00 PM
Pristine coral reefs.
MOODYS NAMENA RESORT TRIP REPORT OCTOBER 12-22, 2006
PURPOSE: Experience the world class snorkeling and nature. We were not disappointed.
BEST TIME TO GO: Emailed the resort (in December 2006) and asked the best time to come for optimal snorkeling conditions, we could come ANYTIME. Joan Moody (owner), replied that October was the best month for snorkeling. So, we made our reservations for October.
WEATHER: Was rotten, such is life. 20-30 mph winds and occasional rain for 8.5 days. We had 1.5 days of sun with gentle breezes. When the sun came out and the wind died down it was heaven.
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: Did it all myself, direct, online, with a credit card. Emailed the resorts to ask questions. Travel was smooth. I like having the print-out of confirmation emails, etc.
Research tools below (dont forget to delete from your browser temporary internet files, cookies, and history, frequently):
www.itasoftware.com try the month long search for the days they fly to Fiji and the cheapest days.
Forums and descriptions (just a sample):
Also compare prices at a few travel agencies to see if they can give you a better deal than you can find on your own.
FLIGHTS: 1. Los Angeles (LAX) to Nadi, Fiji (NAN) on Air Pacific, $1,100 person round trip (RT). 2. Nadi (NAN) to Savusavu (SVU) on Sun Air, $200 per person RT. Made reservations directly with Air Pacific on their website. Joan Moody made the reservations for our Sun Air flight to/from Savusavu. To reach the domestic terminal in Nadi, Fiji, just go outside and it is but a few minutes walk along the sidewalk in front of the terminals. I made our reservations in January 2006 with Air Pacific and Moodys. There was an airfare sale in August 2006 for $798 RT LAX to NAN. That was the cheapest airfare within that 10-month time frame.
1. LAX to NAN (and return) try to get seats where you can lay down to sleep (back of the plane). Took Ambien, it worked but I did not sleep well because I couldnt lie down. If my husband and I can get an aisle and a window together (empty seat between us) we can take turns laying down. We got seats with plenty of leg room, but the armrests did not fold up. Food on airplane was, well, airplane food, barely edible. We had noise-canceling headphones (Bose). We could read and relax. You will still hear things, but it is muted.
2. For the domestic flight, Sun Air, they not only weighed our luggage but they also weighed us! We had to stand on the scale with our carry-on bags. Sun Air left an hour earlier than scheduled, so, check in as soon as you can, and stay close. On the return flight we were bumped, twice, because there were a lot of Namale Resort guests flying to Nadi. But, we were only delayed about 45 minutes. Sun Air brought in another plane, a 9 passenger plane, for my husband and I, and a family of 4. This small plane was actually much newer and nicer than the larger one we flew over on. We had a smoother ride as well. Had to pay for overweight luggage (Sun Air) on return from SVU to NAN, $30 total (this is common on small planes).
Returning home we had about an 8-hour wait in Nadi before our 10 p.m. departure NAN to LAX. Got a day room at Tanoa International. They will pick you up at the airport and give you a ride back (or a taxi ride is $5). We had lunch and went to bed. Got up, took a shower, and headed to the airport about 8 p.m. I highly recommend doing this. We do not like to shop and there really wasnt anything else we wanted to do in that time frame. We had bought Fiji souvenirs on our previous trip in 2000.
Returning home to LAX, we decided to just stay the night and not worry about how long customs would take, making our connecting flight, etc. Stayed at Doubletree Hotel Los Angeles Airport. We highly recommend it. Clean, comfortable, quiet. Food in bar was great. There is nothing like that first hamburger when you get back to the States.
RIDE: Moodys arranged for us to be picked up at Savusavu Airport (very small and primitive) by taxi and taken to the boat dock. Boat ride was 2.5 to 3 hours in extremely rough seas. The boat captain said it was as rough as it gets, lucky us. That was one wild ride. Take something for motion sickness, you may not need it, but better safe than sorry.
RESORT: Cost for 10 days $2,365 x 2 = $4,730. Gorgeous island with astonishingly beautiful beaches. Because it is up on a ridge the views are fantastic. Lushly vegetated (native and introduced), lots of tall trees. The owners, Tom and Joan Moody, are kind and thoughtful, they take care of everything for you.
The bures are attractive and comfortable. Beautifully maintained inside and out. The towels may not match and some have holes in them, but they are clean. Toilets are flushed with seawater into a standard septic system, water for showers, sinks, and drinking is rainwater collected from the roof and stored in a cistern. Shower and sinks have hot water.
Each bure is a self-contained unit. All bures have propane lights (easy to light), some have solar lights, and 2 flashlights. Water pressure was low in our shower, but we had hot water. Your bure has a one-burner propane stove to heat up a hot water kettle for tea and coffee (instant). The floor boards are spaced with a narrow gap in between them (so the bures wont be blown away during cyclones).
To sum up the experience, think of upscale camping with a bed, running water, showers, and flush toilets. Deck around bure for sitting, lounging, tanning, bird watching, reading, and also armchair snorkeling. When on the deck of our bure, number 1, we could look down on the coral reef. I saw a turtle one day, and a giant triggerfish another day. Birds were always flying by, see below for list. Bats fly by in the evening. The wildlife comes to you.
FOOD: Set meal times: 8:00 a.m. breakfast, 12 noon lunch, between 6-7 p.m. dinner. If you get to the dining bure early (before dinner) there is usually a snack chips and salsa, popcorn, cheese and crackers. It is good food (not gourmet), and beautifully presented. John (waiter, etc.) always folded the napkins differently every meal. Mostly Americanized recipes, some Fijian, and some Indian. Lots of variation: Fresh baked bread (white bread) at every meal, fresh fruit and fruit juice for breakfast, eggs cooked to order or pancakes or cinnamon rolls, and coffee. Lunch was soup, sandwiches or lasagna or quesadillas or tacos. Dinner was beef or lamb or fish or chicken, vegetables, salads, and dessert. Ice water with all meals. John is very attentive and always remembers your name, refills your water glass, removes your plate, etc.
COMMUNAL TABLES AT MEALS: There are 2 large round tables in the main dining bure. With a lazy-susan in the center of each table where the serving bowls and platters are placed, and you just spin it to get to whatever dish you want and serve yourself. Everyone sits where they want. My husband and I really enjoyed eating with everyone else and talking. We would compare what marine life we had seen and just visit with each other. The resort was full most of the time we were there (12 guests); one German couple, the rest Americans. Most of the guests were divers. The divers said the diving doesnt get any better than Namena, now we would be spoiled for life. Tom Moody (owner) is a wonderful conversationalist, I enjoyed listening to his stories. Since the weather was so bad this was sometimes the highlight of our day!
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: There is a refrigerator in the dining room stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks, fruit juice, water take what you want (or ask John) and write it down on your running tab on the bar. For my husband and I we would both have a beer at lunch (Fiji Bitter), and a glass or 2 of wine at dinner. At the end of 10 days our bar bill was $196. Very reasonable for a resort. You might want to bring a bottle of vodka, or whatever, if you like mixed drinks (it would be less expensive). Moodys provides the ice and mixers.
Here are some good photos of the resort on flickr.com:
NATURE SNORKELING: OUTSTANDING, despite the weather. Variety and health of coral (hard and soft) impressed me the most. The snorkeling along shore on either side of the dock was excellent. The farther you swim away from the dock (along the shore) the better it gets. There are some cement steps off the dock to enter and exit the water. Also staff will take you in a small boat and drop you off at one end of the reef and you snorkel back to the dock with the current. The coral reef along the shore is very shallow and the drop off is gradual. We had our own snorkeling guide, Jonah, he would stay with us when we went on the dive boat to the outer reef and went with us a couple of times along the shore in a small outboard motor boat. Jonah would help us in the water, help us out of the water, remove our fins for us before we got back in the boat, and stay with us while snorkeling. He made sure we were safe. Yes, we were SO spoiled! Water was cold, wore lycra dive skins, could have used a wet suit on top of that. Could not snorkel the other side of the island (the side with the beaches) ocean conditions were too rough.
Fish, we saw just about everything in the fish guides: Groupers, anthias, cardinalfish, batfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, anemonefishes, wrasses, parrotfish, blennies, surgeonfishes, unicornfish, triggerfish, puffer and boxfish. You might want to bring your own fish identification guides. Went on the dive boat to the outer reef twice. Small platform on back of boat for getting into the water and a ladder for getting back into the boat. WOW! The Grand Canyon dive site was awesome. On one side is a pristine coral reef (at water level).
On the other side, a drop off into the abyss; saw giant groupers and parrotfish, sea snake, white-tipped reef sharks, turtles. I was mesmerized I have never seen such a coral reef, like a garden. We have been snorkeling to: Maui, Hawaii, Akumal, Mexico, Bonaire, and Beqa Island, Fiji. Fiji has the healthiest marine environment of all, and I believe the best snorkeling. Saw lots of sharks! My husband and I had never seen sharks while snorkeling, and we never wanted to see sharks while snorkeling. The very first time in the water I saw a black-tipped reef shark about 2 feet long. Every other time we went in, except once, we saw either black-tipped or white-tipped reef sharks (4-6 feet long). I know it is an example of a healthy coral reef ecosystem (having sharks). As Tom Moody said, it is JUST a shark! They are magnificent animals and I am glad I saw them.
GEAR: We brought all our own snorkeling gear. Dive shop doesnt have anything to sell, it is just for storing the diving gear. Bring anti-fog stuff for your mask.
We tried the McNett Sea Gold anti-fog gel this time and it works the best of anything we have tried:
Also bought new fins, Apollo bio-fin pro. It was a real splurge but so worth it. Especially with strong currents: