When the opportunity to visit what Maqai nicknamed ‘honeymoon island’ I wasn’t initially really that bothered – an island visit is an island visit and we were already on an island. Stella however had heard tales of the place and sold it as the ultimate desert island that she’d been searching for on her travels so before long Fi, Mariliis, Susan, Stella and I had all signed up to see if all the fuss was justified.
We were informed of the need for an early start which, as usual, comically deteriorated into Fiji time when we were all sat ready. The big chief of the island group had come in to take us out especially along with Rafa & Langy. There was slight concern over the weather but we were set to see how we went. We boarded with minimal overnight gear and cameras though I was requested to bring my guitar along as the lads wanted to play it. The tiny boat was loaded with supplies and with 5 travellers, Rafa, Langy, the Captain and his first mate we were at capacity (probably over). We managed to stuff the most important gear under the wheelhouse while the rest got kind of half covered by tarp and then we were on our way.
What followed was three hours akin to a theme park water ride as we bounced along the meter and a half swell past the 7 star Red Bull Island resort (complete with private airstrip and all manner of gubbins good enough to bring Mr Swarzennegger to town) and on out to sea. We crossed spectacular reef lines and by the time we eventually caught site of our destination we all looked like we’d been dragged along behind the back of the boat.
And there she was – Nanuku.
I consider myself pretty well equipped most of the time when it comes to vocabulary but I’m struggling to find the superlatives for this place. Put simply this was the ultimate desert island. It was the crown jewel of the chief’s lands – a tiny island with a hub of vegetation in the middle surrounded by milk white sands and the clearest turquoise sea. So relatively untouched and natural that you had to be exceptionally careful not to stand on the thousands of hermit crabs that wandered the sands going about their day-to-day. Add to that my favourite part of any scene – a clear sky of the deepest blue – and you were simply in awe. The photos won’t do it justice and I think I did a pretty good job with them.
We disembarked onto the shore and met the three people who’d been living out there – 60km from anywhere – for 12 days without sight of anyone else. It was Langy’s Mum & Dad and another chap who’d been staying there working on repairs after the island was heavily damaged by the recent hurricane. It was still running only at a very basic level but none of us gave a damn because as far as we were concerned we’d have stopped there overnight and slept out on the beach (which would have been pretty foolish as for some reason sand flies and mosquitoes somehow unfathomably managed to be there with us). Fi and I had a simple but perfectly adequate double room in the main building while Stella, Mariliis & Susan had the honeymoon cottage.
For the rest of the day we wandered round and round the island. I was trying – literally begging my brain – to drink it in, to feel it, to burn the memory of the place behind my eyelids so I could return there whenever I wanted. I was also snapping like I was firing a Gatling gun as always, trying to capture something of the feel of the place. We swam, snorkelled, sunbathed and laughed at how ridiculous the place was – it felt unreal, almost too perfect to be true. It was awesome.
In the evening after our comical margarine-tub-and-bucket showers the 9 of us on the island (the chief, his first mate and the fella who’d been staying with Langy’s folks were out spear-fishing under the moonlight) had dinner together, a Fijian feast of local dishes. We enjoyed Kava together before taking a walk over to the honeymoon cottage and getting a bonfire going on the beach. Rafa larked about leaping over it and we found we’d built it upon a few half-scorched and somewhat disgruntled crabs over the course of the evening while Langy strummed the guitar and we all took in the thousands of stars in the sky that was for once unblemished by the usual glow of life on earth. We eventually dragged ourselves off to bed so that we could drag ourselves out for sunrise.
And what a sunrise it was – well worth the lack of sleep and that’s saying something as I generally prefer sunsets. We all just wandered off along the beach in different directions to be alone with our thoughts and the red-orange-yellow-blue sky. After breakfast Stella asked me for an ad-hoc photo-shoot so took to dancing across the water’s edge spinning and enjoying her first and last morning on Nanuku while I did my best to snap some shots for her. We then took to messing about in the water before another snorkel round the island where Rafa & I encountered a ray. In fairness everyone would have probably encountered a ray but Rafa was so excited he chased it off.
Too soon it was time to leave the island and after a few group photos requested by the big chief himself we departed Nanuku for the much smoother ride back to Maqai.
This was easily the best island I have ever visited and the closest I imagine I will ever get to a tropical island paradise. Sure there wasn’t a modicum of luxury in sight but who gives a damn? Nanuku was our island for one night and we loved it.