Another wave clambered over the front of the boat.
My eyes stung with the saltwater that now drenched my entire body.
I tried to peel strands of hair away from my face while my wet clothes clung to every curve of my figure.
No wet t-shirt contests here – I was most definitely in the drowned-then-electrified-rat category.
Only half an hour earlier, my friend Louisa and I had successfully dried off after spending a day in the salt, sun and sand of Fiji’s Beachcomber Island.
As we took our spot on the front of the boat, our skipper warned us we might get a little wet.
What he didn’t say was that we would actually end up in the same state as if we had simply swum fully clothed back to the marina.
The saltwater stung against my sunburnt shoulders and the whiplash from the ocean wind dried my lips out to resemble a sun-dried tomato.
Louisa threw her head back and laughed, her blonde and also soaked hair flying behind her in the wind. Carefree and happy, a little extra seawater was the perfect ending to her perfect day.
BEACHCOMBER ISLAND: AN ISLAND FANTASY
Beachcomber Island is one of Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands, the closest island group to the main island of Viti Levu.
My good friend Louisa was visiting Fiji off the back of the New Zealand winter. Like most travellers, heading out to one of Fiji’s beautiful little islands was high on the agenda.
From the second we stepped on the boat, I could see the excitement and anticipation in my friend’s eyes.
Beachcomber Island has quite a different feel to say, South Sea Island, where John & I visited earlier in our stay.
Beachcomber has a more party feel to it with lots of music and a DJ on all day, while South Sea Island is smaller and more relaxed.
Looking at the day’s activities it was hard to know where to start our island adventure.
Snorkelling was a given, but we also had the opportunity to jump on a jet ski, go kayaking or try parasailing.
SNORKELLING AT BEACHCOMBER ISLAND
I taught Louisa to snorkel back in New Zealand at Goat Island Marine Reserve some years ago.
Now it was time to give her a taste of the tropics.
Four years ago she was a timid newbie snorkeller – now she was diving down with ease, clearing her snorkel like a pro and lapping up every part of this tropical deliciousness.
We observed stripey sergeant fish, interesting coral formations, parrotfish, triggerfish and blue starfish.
I couldn’t help but smile watching my friend act practically like a dolphin in these waters.
But the best was yet to come.
After our buffet lunch, it was decided we would go jet-skiing.
DRIVING JET SKIS NANA-STYLE
Having never been on a jet-ski in my life, I was equal parts excited and terrified for our afternoon adventure.
If you’ve never ridden a jet ski, imagine learning to ride a motorcycle on a tightrope.
In the wind.
With too much slack.
I barely hit 30kmh as my Nana-driving skills overtook any sense of losing my inhibitions. With every jolt forward, I could feel Louisa cling onto my life jacket and I spent most of the time trying to avoid driving in a manner which would see her fling off to the side into the ocean.
It reminded me of my first ever driving lesson with my Dad, bunny hopping down the road. Except, this time I was bunny hopping down a body of water approximately 20-30 metres above the sea floor.
With every jolt forward, I could feel Louisa cling onto my life jacket and I spent most of the time worried she was going to fly off.
After half time we swapped places and I let Louisa take the driver’s seat.
Now it was my turn to cling on to her lifejacket and I spent most of the way back to shore with my eyes shut due to the wind, the copious amounts of sea spray hitting my face and the fear of falling off.
My driver didn’t mind. She was clearly having the time of her life.
We were on a jet-ski high for the rest of the afternoon.
The remainder of our time on Beachcomber flew by and after some serious chill-out time in a hammock, we rolled out of our cocoons for a ride home.
Unbeknown to us, there was still a little more adventure left in the day.
By choosing a spot at the front of the boat, we were subject to intense wind and waves on our way home. In simple terms, we got absolutely drenched.
Not quite the relaxing end to the day we had envisaged, but kept in with the theme of exhilarating adventures.
Louisa didn’t want to leave.
Luscious beaches, sparkling blue water, cocktails, hammocks, palm trees, jet skis… it was my personal form of paradise. The casual, relaxed atmosphere makes you feel as though you have no cares in the world, miles from anywhere. We took to those magic waters to explore the marine life with snorkels, and I was amazed by how clear the water was, how much we could see. The fish were surprisingly curious, coming right up to us to see what we were up to. It was my fantasy island day come to life.
Fantasy island indeed – and we both got to tick jet skiing off our bucket list.
DETAILS: Beachcomber Island is a 45-minute cruise from Denarau Marina. Day tours start at $99, including lunch, morning and afternoon tea.
DISCUSS: What’s your idea of an island paradise?