Where We Be
Wayalailai Resort -- Wayasewa Island, Fiji
Wayalailai Resort’s home page ends with the words,
“You won’t want to leave,” and they are so right. We
fell in love with the pictures of Wayalailai on the
internet, and, far from disappointing, the real thing
surpassed our expectations. The self-styled eco-
haven is located on the island of Wayasewa at the
southern tip of the Yasawas. The bures are built on a
perfectly flat, green terrace located thirty feet above
the beach. An open-air restaurant sits close to the
water, offering magnificent views. The beach itself is
white and pristine, and behind the resort is one of
the most dramatic backdrops in Fiji, thousand-foot
Vatuvula Peak. I liked the fact that the resort is
collectively owned by the village, with all profits
shared amongst the villagers. “Big Jerry” (aptly
named) and his band instantly made us feel welcome
with their strumming guitars and booming “Bula!”

During our first afternoon, I heard what sounded like
a hammer clinking on anvil and discovered it was
three Fijian men making kava by pounding the dry
powder in a large bowl using a heavy pestle as tall as
a man. I asked if I could help and got a turn pounding
the kava, striking the edge of the bowl ceremonially
with each upstroke to create the anvil-like sound.
That evening all the guests partook in a traditional
kava ceremony.  Bowls of kava (picture a tasteless
thin gruel) were poured for each guest. A Fijian
warrior presented me with a bowl of kava. I clapped
once, said “Bula,” then accepted the bowl and drank
the contents down in one swallow. I handed the bowl
back to him and clapped slowly three times. The drink
left my tongue and lips slightly numb and tingling.

We went on a guided hike to the top of Vatuvula Peak,
the highest peak on Wayasewa Island. Our resort sits
directly beneath this volcanic plug. Translating as
“Big White Rock,” Vatuvula offers sweeping views of
the west side of Viti Levu (the main island), the
southern half of the Yasawas, and the Mamanuca
island chain. Our guide Napote pointed out Castaway
Island in the Mamanucas, where Tom Hanks' movie
Castaway was filmed. Straight down, you could see
Wayaleilei Resort, its huts looking dollhouse-sized.

Napote stopped every now and again and had us try
native fruits and nuts. He pointed out a red pepper
plant with a tiny red pepper, grimaced, and said “Very
hot!” When I bit off half of it, I thought my mouth was
going to fry. He also used his machete to cut the tops
of two coconuts, one green and one brown. The milk
from the green coconut was sweet, the flesh moist
and rubbery, while the brown coconut's milk was far
less sweet and the flesh more like coconut shavings.
Beautiful Wayalailai Resort -- what a setting!
Vatuvula Peak towers just behind the resort
We shared in a kava ceremony the evening of our arrival -- that's "Big Jerry" in the middle
Wayalailai Resort seen in miniature from the top of Vatuvula Peak
Lovely stretch of beach by the resort
Picturesque view on the way to Vatuvula Peak
There's nothing quite like the beauty of a South Pacific island
Top of Vatuvula Peak...Don't lean back!
Bure #5, our home away from home
Inside our bure -- bed, mosquito net, thatch walls, books
View from our bure window
I like the woven wickerwork of the walls
Aptly named Big Jerry, our favorite staff member
Top of Vatuvula -- we made it!
Our guide Napote uses his machete to open a coconut for us
Robin sips cool coconut milk
Fiji has a surprising variety of terrain
Wayalailai at sunset
Nearby Kuata Island as seen from Vatuvula Peak