14 – 18 April 2013
Nukubati Island -16.463168,179.025926
Getting a WWF assignment to document the world’s third largest barrier reef, we needed to make sure we saw the Great Sea Reef from underwater. Nukubati Island Resort is the only resort in the Macuata Province of the GSR who offered diving as well as many other water related activities. Our trusty WWF South Pacific gang made sure we got to Nukubati Island, to dive and see what it was tourists experienced of the Great Sea Reef.
A most amiable welcome greeted us as we stepped onto the white sands of Nukubati. Happy Fijian staff and our now dear friend Jenny Bourke, owner of Nukubati, sang and welcomed us to their exclusive resort. We were given garlands of flowers and a refreshing welcome drink before getting a full resort briefing by cheerful Sena and Jenny.
Like the seasoned host that she is, Jenny first listened to what we wanted to accomplish for the next 4 days before offering the resort’s roster of activities to us. All our next days activities were well planned out and it was all up to us and our own timing to execute the list of shots to we wanted to achieve. Nukubati Island Resort runs like a well oiled machinery and we managed to fill almost every hour of our days, shooting and discovering the fine details of Fijian nature and culture. The island is full of lush coconut trees and our massive accommodation, a traditional but modernised Fijian bure, was tucked in between these trees and abundant hibiscus bushes. What a system shock for us having come straight from subsistence village living! But we didn’t complain one bit. We felt very pampered indeed.
The club house is huge combining dining area, lounge, library and bar which is available all day long to entertain the resort guests as they decide what to do. Guests are given an assortment of juicy adventure choices like hiking up the hill, paddle-boarding, kayaking, diving or snorkelling the Great Sea Reef, fishing or just simply going to the beach and lying down under the palm trees with no pressures at all.
So off we went the next day to dive and snorkel the Great Sea Reef. Our fabulous divemaster Salote Cina took us to the most colourful part of their area’s barrier reef and we dove the site called the Garden Terrace. Oooh, we saw lovely fan corals and lots of soft corals in the passage – the currents must be ripping here when the tides change!
Then it was kayaking and snorkelling at another island surrounded by mangroves where a white sand bar comes out at low tide.
The sand bar at low tide instantly gets transformed into a private romantic lunch getaway for couples who go snorkelling after their sumptuous meal! The boat captain would drop the guests off and pick them up once they were ready to go back to the resort, leaving behind a two-way radio to contact the resort. Like paparazzis, we took pictures of two honeymooners then quickly left them alone. Lucky for us these couple were so used to photographers soon after their wedding!
Taking advantage of the beautiful island setting, we asked to photograph the staff, some in and some out of uniform. These few pictures show how truly beautiful the Melanesian women are.
On our last night, a meke was performed for all the guests. All the men and women of Nukubati Resort danced, chanted and sang, showing what natural entertainers the Fijians are. Everyone joined in the dancing and the merrymaking. The kava sessions sandwiched the meke until it was time for dinner.
It was time to move on to another province and we said our sad goodbyes to the wonderful staff and Jenny who took such good care of us. We shall meet again dear friends.
And for the finale, because we couldn’t resist, here’s Jenny sitting like an empress surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting!
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