's Yasawa Islands are home to Oarsman's Bay Lodge. It's on a turquoise lagoon on the south-western corner of Nacula Island, the third largest in the Yasawa chain. It touts itself as being the number-one budget island resort in the country. Jason Dundas certainly didn't dispute the claim.
The lodge has bures, dormitories and a campsite. The six bures are adjacent to Navola Bay. Each is beachfront and has private facilities. They sleep a couple but an extra bed can be included to comfortably fit three. A new addition is a bure that can accommodate up to six people.
The dormitory has 13 single beds. It has ceiling fans and shared facilities. If you fancy camping, take your own or rent a tent. They have one- and two-person tents and one suitable to sleep six. There are shared facilities.
Guests can buy a meal package breakfast, lunch and dinner or pay for meals individually. There's Fijian and international cuisine, and fresh food is delivered every day. Local fishermen provide seafood and vegetables come from the local village and the lodge's greenhouse. Snacks are available at the bar and on most days, freshly baked goods are put on for afternoon tea.
Alcoholic beverages include Fijian beers, a range of spirits and American and Australian wines. The bar opens at 9am and closes when the last person leaves.
On Friday nights the lodge holds an authentic lovo dinner where food is cooked underground over hot rocks. Indigenous entertainment is provided by local singers and dancers. They bring out the kava bowl not to everyone's taste but worth a try.
Snorkelling is a must-do activity and on Saturday afternoons you can cruise to parts of Nacula Island and explore the colourful underwater world of fish and coral. It's around $6 for the experience.
On Wednesday afternoons you can visit Cabbage Coral, Qese, Qoloriki and Yamotuni Qade Reefs. Qese is a breeding ground for local turtles. Each reef has something different to offer and for around $6 it's a fantastic thing to do.
For another $6 you can snorkel the beautiful azure waters at Nanuay Lailai Island's famous Blue Lagoon, the location of the movie of the same name. They operate on Mondays and Fridays.
Guests pit themselves against lodge staff in volley ball games, become involved in hermit crab racing, take a sunset cruise, indulge in a massage or head off with a picnic lunch.
Enjoy the experience of Sawa-i-lau caves, a 30-minute boat ride away. They have towering limestone walls and are breathtakingly beautiful. Take off alone along the well-trodden paths of Nacula, or invite a staff member to join you. Meet the locals on a village visit, learn art and craft and join them at church on Sunday morning.
Islanders are very grateful that Oarsmans Bay Lodge provides them with jobs, and it shows in their warmth and friendliness and how they welcome guests.
Related: the absolute must do for anyone visiting Fiji
Nacula Island, a 30-minute flight from Nadi in Fiji.
Oarsmans Bay Lodge dormitories start at around $28 a night. Camping costs around $30 a night with your own tent and $43 in one of theirs. Deluxe bures are around $200 and $320 for a family bure of two interconnecting rooms and around $160 for one side of the family bure. Meal packages are around $73 per person a day and $37 for children between six and 13 years of age. Children between one and five years will cost around $19. Snorkelling in front of the resort is free. Snorkelling trips are $20 and take place in three different reefs.
Pacific Blue, international airline of Virgin Blue, has flights to Nadi.
One-way fares from:
- Brisbane $199
- Sydney $219
- Melbourne $279
- Adelaide $299
- Canberra $339
- Darwin $379
- Perth $399
On sale until midnight September 6, 2010, and for travel between November 1 and December 8, 2010, January 11 and April 6, 2011, and May 3 and June 23, 2011.
Prices correct at August 26, 2010.
For further information
Ph: 136 789
Oarsmans Bay Lodge
Ph: +679 628 0485
Visas: Australian visitors to Fiji are issued a visa on arrival. They last one to three months.
Electricity: 240V at 50Hz using the same pins as Australia.
Time zone: GMT +12.
Currency: The Fiji dollar.
Telephone code: +679.
It is recommended travellers to Fiji see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au