Spring Break- Barefoot Lodge: Drawaqa

Sunrise beach, Barefoot Island Lodge Resort

After a short two nights we left coralview and headed to Barefoot Lodge.  Again we boarded the big yellow yasawa flyer and then had a smaller water taxi take us to Barefoot.  Barefoot Lodge is the only resort on a very thing small island called Drawaqa (pronounced Dra-wonga).  You can walk from one side to the other in all of five minutes.  Barefoot has three beaches: sunrise, sunset, and manta-ray.  So no matter what time of day you can always catch some rays and both days I was there I got to watch the sunrise and sunset.  Life is beautiful when you can watch sunrises and sunsets.

One of the manta rays we saw while diving. I got this picture from one of the people staying at the resort who does have an underwater camera.

While at barefoot just the day after we arrived we got to swim with the mantarays.  Bright and early at 6am (low tide time).  How it works is that the resorts sends out boats every half an hour or so during low tide (the manta-rays preferred swimming time) to check.  If they spot a ray they radio back to the resort and drum this traditional Fijian drum and run up and down yelling “mantarays, mantarays.”  Then everyone at the resort immediately drops whatever they are doing, changes into swim suits if they must, grabs their snorkels and sprints to the boat.  It is a rather comical scene and seems a bit contrary to the slow island style of life.

Obviously this isn’t me, but it gives you an idea of just how large these animals are.

That first morning Mikayla, my one friend that came with me to the resort, and I were ready.  Up watching the sunrise and already in our swim suits.  We immediately ran and were the first ones there.  We got in the boat as the rest of the resort who wanted to come slowly followed us.  We boated out to the channel (just a few minutes away), spotted the manta rays, and jumped in the water.  They were pretty mobile that day so we got a workout swimming up the channel against the current following them.  It was a perfect morning workout.  They are beautiful in the water.  So graceful and huge.  Way bigger than my armspan.  And to swim with them only cost $35 FJ.  So totally worth it!  I wanted to do it again the next day but unfortunately I got blisters while snorkeling one of the reefs so I decided not to.

After going out with the manta rays Mikayla and I decided to do a free intro to scuba class.  It was a lot of fun.  Made me really want to get scuba certified.  And I actually just found out today that USP students get 25% off of SCUBA cert near Beqa island for $570 Fijian.  Which is less than $300 US which is an awesome price.  Plus the open water dives will be so much more beautiful than getting certified anywhere else.  Also then I will be certified for life.  I want to do it.  After our intro class we paid a little extra money to do just a dive off in the reef.  Again so fun!  I loved the feeling of being weightless and so deep in the water.

I opened this coconut all by myself with a machete!

We went snorkeling in the afternoon off of sunset beach and actually made it to the reef crest. It was beautiful.  We saw anenomes, clownfish, butterfly fish, and tons of corals.  It was exciting to actually see the crest that we’ve talked about in our coral reef ecology. And then just to have open ocean in front of you is intense.

There was one night that we drank Kava, again felt sick afterwords, and another there was fire dancing which was a little sketch.  While also at Barefoot we sat in on a coral reef talk by the resident marine biologist.  The second day we were there a manta ray researcher came and we spent a long time talking to him.  He actually knew where Missouri was!  Which is pretty rare around here.  He was from England and majored in Biology.  We also met a couple from Holland who were spending the year traveling.  The woman majored in Biology as well so we had a lot to talk about with her.  She also liked animal behavior like Mikayla and I.  It was so much fun meeting everyone.  I think traveling in a pair gives you great opportunity to meet people while at the same time giving you someone to hang out.

Example of all the activities at Barefoot! It makes for a full day if you want!

Overall I absolutely loved Barefoot Island resort.  First of all the staff and guests there were awesome.  I love that they have a Marine Biologist on staff.  Also their dive instructor was English.  They do programs to remove Crown of Thorns Starfish (a huge predator of corals) and are very knowledgeable.  The dive instructor is just generally really nice and made me feel very comfortable.  The manta-ray expert was also very nice.  Lots of dorky science conversations with people makes me happy.  Also there was always something to do on the island.  Lots of activities, and lots of them free.  The food was pretty good as well.  Being able to always find sunshine and a beach was nice too.  I liked that the beaches were right there and there was variability in the snorkeling.  I’m considering going back to the Yasawas for the study break. I want to try Blue Lagoon resort too which is supposed to be amazing.

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About Meg LaFollette

I studied abroad in Fiji for 5 months in 2012 and absolutely fell in love with traveling! I went to New Zealand right after and then Peru this summer. When not traveling (and sometimes during) I love healthy, environmentally conscious living. Animals, biology, horses, and behavior are other passions of mine.
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