Downey Duck







Our first stop during a two week Fiji trip was Waidroka Bay. After landing in Nadi, we were greeted and escorted to our slightly dilapidated taxi van for the three hour trip to Waidroka Bay. Parts of the road were torn up after recent flooding. We made a brief stop for drinks and a longer stop for upscale island wear souvenirs and clothing. The narrow, winding drive to Waidroka from the main road took 15 minutes, with peeks of gorgeous ocean views.

Waidroka Bay Resort sits on a beautiful piece of property. There are seven ocean front rooms on beach level, plus a few more rooms with panoramic views up 57 steps. Our bure was quite large, with a queen bed, single bed, two night stands, a table, and a closet. There wasn’t a chest of drawers, so we stored our clothes on the shelf in the night stands. The bathroom was roomy, with plenty of hot water that came and went, so we were constantly adjusting the spigots; this was due to the individual instant hot water heater. I loved the front porch with its large table, railings, and seat hammock, which made a great place to hang things to dry. I did miss air-conditioning, but there was a ceiling fan and a powerful floor fan, and after a couple days we became more accustomed to the humidity. The windows were screened and had adjustable wooden louvers.

The main building, housing the reception area, lounge area, bar, kitchen and dining room, also had a large veranda facing the ocean and overlooking the warm fresh water pool. The second bar was pool side, where there was also a covered lounge area.

The building housing the dive shop had a very small counter area and lots of space for hanging BCs and wetsuits; there were also small plastic bins on shelves for personal gear. Outside the shop there were a wooden patio for gearing-up, a small dock and protected water for their boats. The cut out to deeper water has to be dredged once a year and this puts a limit on boat size. For groups over six the larger boat has seats with tank racks, space below the seats, and lots of shade; the smaller boat has lower seats and the tanks are placed in the middle, but there’s still plenty of shade. We did back rolls off the small boat and giant strides off the larger boat.

The close-by diving was OK, but we weren’t able to experience it at its best due to three weeks of massive rain and flooding before our arrival. The sloping walls had an interesting terrain and we saw various fish, a couple turtles, and a few sharks. Boat rides were 5-15 minutes. We went out into Beqa Lagoon 3 days, a 40-45 minute boat ride, and the bommies, soft corals, and visibility were much better. We also did a shark feeding day, one dive at 85 feet and one at 65 feet; these were the most well organized shark dives I’ve ever done. We saw bull sharks, silvertips, white-tips, lemon sharks, large groupers, and a frenzy of fish. Sometimes they see tiger sharks, but it was not to be for us.

The food was good to excellent. Breakfast was a continental buffet of coffee, orange juice (Tang), coffee presses, tea, a few cereal choices, and homemade bread for toast. We could also order eggs, French toast, or pancakes. Lunch offers included tasty hamburgers, fresh tuna sandwiches, quesadillas, scrumptious soups, and salads. Dinner usually consisted of one or two entrees (fish, chicken or beef), salad, and dessert; one night we had an Indian buffet. We picked lunch choices at breakfast each day. Service was usually quite fast.

Bottled water was available at meals in pitchers. The water in the rooms was OK for brushing and making coffee in the rooms, but not advisable for drinking, although it is filtered. Large bottles are available for purchase; most of us took smaller bottles to meals and filled up then.

One of the things I liked most about Waidroka was the afternoon activities that Amanda, one of the managers, arranged. We learned how, and actually tried, to husk coconuts, make kava bowls, make local brooms and hair wreaths, and generally talked about island life. One afternoon Amanda wanted to know if we had any suggestions on how to improve the resort. By the next day, clotheslines were up on everyone’s porches, including clothespins. We found out that some of the future plans included AC in most of the rooms and a redesign of the closets to make them half hanging and half shelving.

Waidroka Bay is a great place for land based tourism without additional flying or too much driving. There’s good diving available, beautiful scenery and fantastic staff and food. They also offer surfing for the experienced, paddle boarding and kayaking. And of course, the traditional kava ceremony is a must.