June 26, 2022
Bula one final time from Fiji!
The kids have officially departed from the island of Viti Levu safely and timely. It feels like yesterday that we touched down in this same airport to begin our seventeen-day adventure, but time really does fly by fast when you are having fun, especially when you are on Fiji time.
The last leg of our trip has been a blast. To pick up where our last update left off, the group finished their scuba certifications! Despite initially struggling with clearing their masks, Lux and Caroline persevered as they removed and cleared their masks gracefully. In their first certified dive, the group explored the soft coral capital of the World, spotting what they were convinced to be Nemo hidden beyond some anemone, as well as star fish, sea cucumbers, parrot fish, and infinite other colorful sea creatures. Price impressed everybody with his buoyancy skills by floating upside down. As the leader of “Seal Team Six,” Jack commanded the boys through the ocean in an underwater mission to discover unseen fish. As we rose to the surface on our last dive of the day, we were stricken by the backdrop of an orange sunset looming above the Fijian mountains and reflecting off of the blue ocean. That night, due to other restaurants being closed because of the pandemic, we returned to the Korean market/restaurant for another delicious and reliable meal. Dylan discovered his love for Korean snacks, while some of the girls learned about different Korean skin care products.
The next morning, after a good nights rest and a hardy breakfast, the group set out together for a “surprise” dive. Surprise was not enough to express the kids’ faces as they eventually discovered that they would be embarking on a bull shark dive. Despite it being only their second dive since certification, the group embraced the adventure and suited up. Once everybody arrived at the ocean floor, we were lined up against a man-made wall of coral facing open ocean. Out of nowhere, a handful of bull sharks and lemon sharks began swimming around what we later found to be nicknamed the “Bistro.” The group watched in awe as the sharks would come within only a couple of meters to their faces before quickly diverting left or right. Henry displayed his fearlessness as he watched from the edge of the wall, trying to see how close he could get to the sharks without touching them. He swore that he was a shark whisperer. After the shark dive, the group descended on another dive around a massive shipwreck. On that second dive, we discovered more sharks, sea slugs, and an electric eel that Sarah had spotted hidden deep within the coral. For the second half of the day, the group hiked into the nearby arts village to be surprised by an unexpected ice cream stop. After filling up on Jimbo’s ice cream, we stocked up on food supplies for our second home-cooked meal. The group returned to our hostel just in time for their daily Eno time, coupled with a beautiful sunset. That night, led by Mia’s expert cooking skills, the whole team pitched in to make chipotle-style burrito bowls. Cannon led the dessert team in a valiant attempt to make funnel cakes.
The following day, the group woke up early to depart for Nadi for our last leg of the trip. After a long drive consisting of Caamp and Mt. Joy on rerun, we made it to our last location for the trip. Quickly after arriving at the hotel, we threw on our swimming suits and hopped into another van to head towards Denarau island for our sailboat ride. The kids were excited to spread their sea legs and rest on the large catamaran as they enjoyed lots of sunlight and clear skies. Vivian was eager to spread out under the sun and get her tan on, while Will was determined to create some funky tans from his temporary tattoos. After riding by countless islands from the Mamanuca Group, the boat anchored down besides a picturesque island smaller than a football field. The kids enjoyed a long snorkel trip through the shallow reefs. Kullan looked like a sea worm as he swam from hole to hole through the gaps in the reefs. After snorkeling, the group ate delicious sandwiches and wraps accompanied by a giant fruit platter. upon returning home from our sailboat ride, we put on our fanciest attire and headed towards the restaurant where we would be eating our final banquet dinner. The girls were all matching with their black Fiji Bitter shirts, while the boys sported colorful “Bula” shirts. For dinner, we feasted on Pad Thai bowls, chicken alfredo, Aussie burgers, and so much more. During dinner, everybody gave toasts and enjoyed each other’s company as they reminisced on the memories from the past two weeks. At our final Moonup, the group continued their storytelling as they reflected on the trip and their time with one another. Everybody was eager to leave one another with plenty of “Nugs” to take home with them in their hypothetical “Nug Jug.” It was a bittersweet feeling that night: the kids laughed and cried, eager to take their new perspective and friendships back to America, yet sad to finally be leaving Fiji and parting ways with one another.
On our last day of the trip, the group set out for one last boat ride. We enjoyed our morning cruising on a sailboat and stopping to fish in a near-by bay. Even though only a few were caught, the group loved being together on the water one last time. We ate delicious sandwiches and fruit on the boat before heading back to our hotel to shower and head to the airport.
This trip has been a blast for the kids, as well as for Molly and I. The group bonded and grew closer in ways that we never could have imagined, and we are sad to see them leaving us to head back home. While everybody is going their separate ways when the trip concludes, we are confident that the group will stay close and connected for years to come. So with that being said, this is a Au saa liu mada (See you later) to Fiji1B.
Thanks for the memories!
Molly and Jake
June 21, 2022
Bula Vinaka! It is so crazy how fast our trip has flown by. On Thursday, we made it to our beautiful hotel on the beach. Everyone was so excited to see our new outdoor showers and all the activities the place had to offer. After cleaning up, we enjoyed a nice dinner next to the beach with a stunning sunset. The group was exhausted after our day of paddling and slept very well in our new beds.
The next morning, we slept in and had a lazy morning. With a full day ahead of us, and surfing postponed due to the swell, the group traveled to the city market. Henry, Kullan, and Cannon helped flag down a bus at the bus stop right outside of our hotel. At the market, we tried all different kinds of fruits, vegetables, chips, and candy. All the girls enjoyed pineapple halves that were cut like popsicles. It was exactly what Mia was searching for! Everyone found some bling for their wrists and necks, including Henry’s 5 new bracelets that he bargained for. Will and Price found bread pudding, monkey balls, and gum with temporary tattoos on the wrapper. Of course, they shared with everyone and we soon all had different temporary tattoos over our arms and legs. When we got back to the beach, Lux and Vivian rode horses down the beach. They were living in their own movie! We spent the rest of the day playing volleyball with the staff, getting massages, and challenging each other to chess. Our dinner was once again delicious, consisting of burgers, pasta, and chicken.
Saturday consisted of an adventure to the island of Yanutha. After a bumpy ride with lots of sea spray, we arrived at the picturesque beach. We started our time off by taking one of the Fiji eco-challenge routes up to the top of the island. Our hike consisted of a steep climb, with ropes aiding us up the trail. Jack helped lead the way and encouraged everyone to keep going. We got a bit muddy, but the view at the top was well worth the challenge. It was so fun to see the group’s faces and the end and the water among the horizons. As we slid back down, we were greeted with a buffet of BBQ chicken, sausage, and guava. After lunch, everyone lounged on the beach and explored the shallow waters with our snorkels. Sarah found a nice hammock, where she enjoyed one of her favorite books. Our captain, Kenny, then took us to an outer reef, where the whole group got out and snorkeled. Around the reef, we saw lots of fish and practiced our free diving skills. Caroline navigated us back to the hotel and docked us safely. We showered, ate dinner, and had moonup on the beach before our surf lessons in the morning.
We enjoyed our last morning at the hotel surfing, as we caught some big waves right out from the shore. Dylan showed the rest of the group his skills and rode gracefully. Everyone loved being able to experience real-life Fijian waves. After, we munched on our last meal at the hotel and played pool until our bus came to pick us up before arriving at our last spot of the trip. For dinner, we had a cook-off in our very own kitchen and took a quick walk to the supermarket to get ingredients. Group one won with their delicious homemade ramen with a twist. Group two followed closely behind, as they presented chicken alfredo and vegetables, with the special spice of burnt pan. We finished off with Neapolitan ice cream and another long moonup.
Monday consisted of the beginning of our pool dives for our scuba certification. Everyone braved the rain and persevered to learn their new skills. We were able to pick our own lunches, including pasta, BLTs, ham and cheese sandwiches, and wraps. Lots of pool was played and tea was sipped in between sessions to keep warm. For dinner, we rode to a new supermarket and restaurant where everyone devoured their meals and Fijian lemonades. After, we scanned the isles for snacks and candy before heading back. Most of us crashed quickly upon return and rested up for our next big day of scuba.
Today, we finished the last two sessions of our pool dives and started the first open water dives of our certification. Some of the kids were a little nervous to clear their masks, but successfully completed the task! We explored the surrounding coral reef and saw octopi, lionfish, and frogfish. Everyone is pumped to become fully certified tomorrow, and to use their skills on a few soft coral dives. We finished the day off with a walk to dinner at a local cafe. Talk to y’all soon!
Molly and Jake
Mia- hi mom and dad I’m so happy you gave me the opportunity to go on this trip. I’m having so much fun and having so many once in a lifetime opportunities here. Miss y’all so much!!!
Caroline-hi mom and dad I’m so grateful you sent me on this trip. I can’t wait to see y’all and tell you all about the crazy things I have seen! I love y’all so much. Thank you!
Vivian- hi mom and dad!! im having SO much fun. thank you so much for sending me on this trip because im having the time of my life
Lux-hey guys!! Im so thankful that you guys sent me on this trip! While I miss you both sooo much, I’m having so so so much fun in Fiji!!!!! Love you guys mucho
Sarah- hey mom and dad I am loving this trip! This is definitely one of the best experience I have ever been in. I love my group, they are so nice and funny! Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I miss y’all so much! Tell poppy I said hi!
Kullan- hi mom and dad, i miss you guys so much. I’m writing this to express my gratitude and thankfulness to you guys for giving me this opportunity. I have made many new friendships and this experience is unlike anything I have ever done, so thank you guys so much- love Kullan
Price- Hi mom and dad. I’m having a great time in Fiji and am so grateful that you guys let me go. Scuba has been amazing and seeing the people and places in Fiji is such an eye-opening experience to the difference in our ways of life. Thank you so much for giving me this great opportunity can’t wait to tell you all about it. -Love Price
Will- Hey mom and dad!! I miss y’all so much. I want to thank y’all for sending me on this amazing trip. Fiji has been one of the best experiences of my life. This trip has taught me so much and I have been able to see things that I will never forget. Thank you guys so much for giving me this opportunity. I miss and love y’all so much!! See you soon, -Will
Jack- Hey Mom and Dad. This trip is actually one of the coolest experiences of my life and I can’t thank you enough. Fiji is so sick. Different perspective actually changed my mindset on my daily life believe it or not. Scubas been so fun and I can’t wait to do more. Thank you so much. I love and miss you both. See you soon!
Dylan- Hey Mom and Dad, this trip has been a trip of a lifetime and we aren’t even finished! I have learned and seen so many things that I never knew about Fiji. There has been so many perspectives on live that I’ve witnessed throughout this trip and it’s truly so eye opening. I just wanted to thank you guys for supporting me through the whole process and most importantly allowing me to be here in this amazing country. Thank you Mom and Dad so so much for allowing me be come here and I love you guys so so much – Dylan
Cannon – Hey Mom and Dad! I miss y’all so much and the whole family so much. This trip has been a blessing and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to come on this trip. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I am beyond grateful to have the experiences that I have had over the past days/week. I have gotten to spend time with little kids and live kind of how they live and experience their daily life and how different it is. Thank you again for letting me have these experiences. Love y’all and can’t wait to see y’all!
Henry – Hey mom and dad! I miss you so much and I can’t wait to see you. I have had so much fun on this trip and can’t wait to see you. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to come on this trip and letting me experience these things. It means so much to me and I can’t want to tell you all about it when I get back. I love you!
June 17, 2022
Bula again from Fiji! The crew has just returned from our adventures in the Upper Navua river. Immediately following our arrival at the Nambukelevu village, we were guided through a promenade into a marvelous church built in 1999. While there, we attended a Fijian church service and were introduced to the people of the village. Later that evening, as we started walking down to take our first river bath, we were escorted by several of the village children. The group spent hours swimming and playing with the kids. Dylan quickly became a canvas as all the children painted his face with clay rocks. That night, the group got to try Kava for the first time during our welcoming ceremony with the village chief. From that point on, we were no longer seen as foreigners, but as accepted members of the village. Henry took the significance of this ceremony to heart, as he quickly became the village favorite, offering a loud and warm “bula” to everybody that he passed.
The following morning, the group split up to go collect ingredients for our dinner. The boys went to collect cassava roots, while the girls went to gather taro plants. Cannon was eager to use put his strength to the test as he and the other boys competed to pull out the largest cassava roots. Simultaneously, Vivian and Sarah were not afraid to get dirty as they ventured through the mud to grab the taro leaves. After lunch, the group found themselves being invited into a villager’s home to dance. Led by Kullan’s bold dance moves, the group moved their hips to some Fijian pop music while the villagers laughed and danced along. Later that evening, the boys from the group joined the village men for a game of touch rugby. Price looked like a natural as he captained his team to victory. Immediately after rugby, the group stormed the river to rejoin with the village children that had just finished school. The children were enthralled by Lux’s luscious locks, so she spent most of the time sitting by the river as several children braided her hair. At night, we joined a Fijian family for some tea and Fijian pancakes. While the group enjoyed the pancakes and the warm invitation, everybody, especially Mia, were captivated by the hosts’ dancing baby.
In our last day at Wainadiro village, the group went to the school to paint and pick up trash. Somehow, the boys discovered an old bench press, in which they competed with the village men for reps. Despite being the clear victors, the men were polite enough to gather coconuts for the entire group to drink. Following the service work, the group hiked to a fishing spot along the river. While there, some of the boys, such as Jack and Price, took their shot at spear fishing. Unfortunately, the group had very little luck. Thankfully, the village men made sure that we didn’t leave empty handed. To get home, the group floated down the river in bamboo rafts that the Fijian men had built with Kullan and the girls’ help. After lunch, som went to gather banana leaves while others collected taro leaves for our “lovo,” which is a traditional Fijian stove built on the ground with rocks and banana leaves. After the village children got out of school, the group went to meet them at the river for their daily swim. This time, the swim was followed by games on the lawn, such as soccer, volleyball, and a game called “taki-taki,” which involved dancing and laughter. That night, we joined the chief for our closing ceremony. Before bed, the boys were eager for one more dance, so they joined the other villagers in the community center to show their moves. This time, with Will’s lead, the boys got all the village women to join in as they competed in dance circles and participated in one big dance train. Everybody fell asleep easily that night.
Early the next day, the group said goodbye to Nabukelevu as we hopped on a bus towards our put-in for our long day of rafting. For the entire day, we floated down the Upper Navua river, surrounded by cliffs the size of skyscrapers, which stared down on us from both sides of the narrow river. The day consisted of picturesque views of dense, green jungle and heavenly waterfalls. By the time the group made it to Wainadiro village, which was our final stop for the night, it was nearly dusk. After the welcoming ceremony into the village, the group quickly went to rest.
On our second day floating the Navua river, the group hopped into “duckies” or inflatable kayaks. Despite a little rainfall, the kids paddled onward and had a blast as they soloed every rapid with rigor and excitement. At times, the river proved too difficult to overcome, as we had a few members fall overboard, such as Caroline. Nevertheless, the fallen soldiers got right back up on their boats, glared a big smile, and kept on floating. For lunch, the group went on a hike and discovered a giant waterfall. Everybody jumped at the opportunity to go inside the waterfall for their first time. After a couple more hours of travel, the group finally arrived at our next destination where we will be spending the surfing portion of our trip.
For the next three days, we will be surfing, sea Kayaking, and island hopping our way around the southern coast of Fiji, so stay posted! Moce!
Love, Jake and Molly
Cannon – Happy Birthday Mom! Love you! Happy early Father’s Day dad love you!
Will- Hey mom and dad, I miss y’all. Hey Reese, I miss you too. Love ya.
Price- Bula mom dad and Sophie
Mia- hi mom and dad love and miss y’all so much
Sarah- hey mommy, Dad, Lee, and Jack love y’all! Also happy Father’s Day
Kullan- hey mom and dad, miss you guys very much, I’m doing great, Milah love you too, tell the dogs I miss them
Caroline- hey mom and dad! Love and miss you so much see you soon!
Vivian- hi guys I miss y’all soooooo much and I love y’all
Henry- hey mom and dad I love you so much and I miss you
Lux- hi guys!!!! I miss y’all more than y’all miss me and I love you guys so much!! I hope the pets are good, and I’ve been having so much fun!!!!!
Dylan-Hi guys! I am having so much fun and I miss you all so much! Give messi a kiss for me along with everyone else, I love you all!
Jack- Hello mom and dad. I’m having so much fun and miss y’all. Happy Father’s Day day dad. Love you!
June 11, 2022
Bula from Fiji!
After long travel days, our group has made it to the beautiful island. We have officially time traveled across the international date line. Caroline was the first to arrive in LA. We took a trip to In and Out between the other students’ flights to enjoy one of the most famous burgers in the US. After everyone arrived, we enjoyed each other’s company and learned more about Vivian’s love for otters. Dylan sparked some great conservations and caught our attention with every word. Jack and Henry tag teamed and found great pairs of sunglasses to wear on the beach. They are showstoppers!
After a long 10-hour flight, we arrived at our gateway city in Fiji. Kullan and Dylan stepped off the plane rocking their matching crocs. We got to see everyone’s passport photos while waiting in line for customs, especially Price with his mullet. Cannon kindly helped our driver load the bus with our duffels before heading to get breakfast. After a delicious buffet breakfast, we headed to our hotel for the rest of our day. On the way, Sarah found a fruit stand with fresh coconuts! They were so refreshing! Mia and Lux helped think of some great sing-a-longs and games to play on the road. When we arrived to our hotel, everyone quickly rushed to put on their bathing suits and jump in the ocean. Will knew how to do some crazy jumps! Our afternoon was relaxing and consisted of eno-ing and yoga by the water. Our long day of travel made us exhausted, but everyone still found this new place unbelievable. We walked to dinner for pizza and finished our day with our first Moonup on the island.
We are so excited to start our service section tomorrow in one of the local villages on the island. Our LODs, Will and Caroline will help show the group what to do. Talk to y’all soon!
Molly and Jake
June 10, 2022
Hello Fiji Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Nadi. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!