Photos coming soon. 


We got the news that the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, was killed by a stingray; like most news it filtered in to us after many days, with hazy details. But immediately there was a misconception needing illumination about the nature of the beast responsible for the Croc Hunter’s demise. For one thing, as Lisa can attest firsthand, there is little in common between the stingray and the manta ray.


Manta rays are peaceful creatures who entirely lack the inclination or the capacity to harm humans. They never attack. The only harm they do is when unwary divers wander too close to their immense fins and suffer a concussion. Lisa swam with one – she’ll offer her first post to this blog soon to report the details – and called it one of the greatest experiences of her life. Second only to meeting me.


We came to the end of our brief stay at Manta Ray Bay after an extensive, and sweaty, climb to the uppermost point of Naviti Island, to a cliffside overlooking the strait between Naviti and its neighbor to the south, Waya. It was a singular experience if only for the view: miles and miles of brilliant blue ocean broken only by humps of bright green isle: you could see forever, almost. We sat on a crumbling volcanic cliff, amazed.


Our guide, Noks (short for Makelili Nainoka) seemed unaccountably to like us, and extended an invitation to stay in his village when we return to Fiji. I tried to warn him that this was a dangerous invitation – just ask our friends in Bangkok, Sweden and elsewhere, whose hospitality we mean soon to test … Just kidding guys. We’re great houseguests. Really. (By the way, I like my eggs sunny-side up, with wheat toast, jam and butter on the side. Promptly at 8.)


Noks, and his fellow staffer Aba, provided us a detailed recent history of the island, parts of which their tribe leases to the resort and parts on the island’s far eastern side they’ve consented to sell to developers planning, in the next two years, to build a five-star hotel. From the point of view of the nearby villages, which will provide the man- and woman-power to construct and staff the new hotel, this is a good – even great – thing. For purists who really have no business meddling in Fiji’s affairs – us – it’s bittersweet at best. You don’t have to be an expert in geology or topography to appreciate the vast variety of these islands, their uniqueness, and that’s without even approaching the subject of plant and animal life. The coral reefs in particular, running right up to the beach and allowing snorkelers to simply wade to them to witness their intricate, incomparable ecoystems, are delicate and require constant vigilance and protection. We hope it’s provided.


We think it will be. We decided to be content seeing the area – accompanied by the resort’s two mutts, Misi and Tui, who reminded us of Kaya in more than just appearance – before developers change it forever. And learning a bit about the place in the process.

We learned, for example, about the rara tree, which has a kind of sap good for soothing upset stomachs, and we learned how to knock down, select and un-rind coconuts. We learned about trees that provide remedies for eye problems and treatments for diabetes — a real problem in a country where sugar goes with 90 percent of the diet. And, mot importantly, we made more friends.