Our next resort was Manta Ray Resort and some friends we had met on the first 2 islands had told us a lot about the resort. Everyone had said it was a cut above the rest and they were right! On arrival we were greeted by the staff singing and welcoming us with fruit drinks. The whole resort was much more commercialised and professional; for instance, these guys didn't run on Fiji time! After our wonderful welcome we were given the general 'need-to-know' and then taken to our dorm room.
Our room was a massive 32 bed dorm, however despite it's size the dorm was comfortable and cozy. The beds were bunk beds, almost like cubby holes, giving us a bit of privacy which is essential when in such a big dorm. Once settled, we headed straight to the beach to lounge in hammocks and relax before dinner. On reaching the beach we found there was only one large hammock. So there was no option but to share. It was interesting trying to get us both in one hammock, but got there in the end!
Dinner was amazing. There was so much choice for mains, with a soup to start and a small dessert as well. Our evening entertainment was a display of traditional Fijian dancing and story telling. The whole evening was so much fun the staff had us all up and dancing the night away.
The next morning began with a feast of pancakes, fruit, cereal, eggs, beans and pastry delights; a delicious start to the day. Then out to the beach, finding hammocks and relaxing in the morning sun. Later in the morning, we joined in a bracelet making session, making pretty rope bracelets with shells we had found on the beach just metres away!! By the time we had finished making our beaclets it was time for lunch. Oh my gosh, there was so much choice for lunch, Harriet and I didn't know what to have; I settled on nachos and they were so good!
Our afternoon activity was a guided kayak. We made a mid way stop at a nearby beach to swim and snorkel and the water was unbelievably warm and clear with so many fish close to shore it was amazing to have them so close and swimming among us. Whilst here it began to get cloudy so we decided to head back. A good job too as the skies darkened more and then within half an hour the rain came down so heavily! It rained for the rest of the day which was a shame but it was the first proper rainstorm we had had since we began island hopping and after all the stories others had told us about 2 weeks of rain, we didn't mind. We had been lucky enough to have a week of beautiful sunshine already.
Relaxing before dinner, Harriet and I talked about what we wanted to do the next day and for the rest of the trip. One of our ambitions both Harriet and I were desperate to try was scuba diving! So we signed up for an introductory diving lesson. We were unbelieveably excited!
Once again dinner was amazing and we had a night of fun and games. They were silly games, we had a blast and I won a free cocktail!!!
Our final day at Mantaray began early with a delicious breakfast before checking out and then going to the dive shop to have our introductory dive lesson. We had 2 instructors for the 4 of us taking the lesson. Attu, one of our instructors, kitted us out with fins, mask and a weight belt. He demonstrated the oxygen tank and vest, what we had to do (which was not a lot) and then we were helped into our weight belt, vest and tank, which was equally heavy, and practised our breathing with the regulator.
They talked us through how to equalise our ears and how the pressure can affect the body, the correct position for swimming and the hand signals we would be using. We then headed to the beach, sat in the shallows and put our fins and mask on and practised breathing with our faces in the water.
Before we knew it we were under the water and ready to descend! It was incredibly silent under the water, I loved the feeling of peace. The colours were remarkable and, within minutes of being in the water, we saw so many fish. We descended slowly with Joe, our other instructor. I could soon feel the pressure in my ears, equalising we then continued down. I cannot believe how many colourful fish and giant clams were on the reef, we were even lucky enough to see a shark! We got to hold an electric blue starfish and a sea cucumber, it was so cool!
We surfaced after what seemed like no time at all but, amazingly, we were under the water for 50 minutes! Joe told us that normally a first dive would be much shorter but we were managing so well, Joe had kept going. At our deepest we were at 11.8 metres! I loved being under the water but I did find that the pressure got to my ears a little and I was struggling for about a day afterwards.
Back from our dive we headed to the lounge area to make another bracelet, and it started to rain again, but luckily not for long. Too soon we were getting ready to say goodbye to Mantaray Resort. The staff again as we said our goodbyes. Final photos with the staff we had got to know over the last 2 days and then it was into the motor boat to be taken out to the main boat that would transport us onwards to our next island.
On the main boat we briefly saw our friends from Korovou resort. They were going to stay at Mantaray for the next few days. After quick 'hugs', 'hellos' and 'see you soons', we were leaving Mantaray and on to our next piece of paradise.
Three islands down, 3 to go and I have fallen in love with Fiji!