June 24, 2023
A final BULA from Fiji 1A!
We have spent our last few days in Fiji shredding waves! Our hotel is right on the beach so we roll out of bed and right onto the beach. It is incredible! We woke up on Wednesday morning ready to learn the correct surfing technique and practice our skills. Once in the water, Charlie paddled out to a wave, turned around, stood up, and rode it all the way in! After Charlie showed us the ropes, we all quickly got the hang of it. Gray, Harry, Polly, and Sophia were the last kids out of the water. They were absolutely tearing up the surf, loving every second. Archer and one of the local guides dropped their boards on the boat and tried bodysurfing some of the waves.
After our surfing session, we relaxed in the hammocks by the beach and enjoyed some PB&J toast. Then it was on to the next activity! We quickly gathered our things and hopped on a boat that took us to a secret island where we spent the afternoon. On the way to the island, we found some dolphin friends that swam alongside the boat and boasted their flip abilities. Ella Anne was a pro videographer and captured the whole experience! Once at the island, we had a BBQ and relaxed in the sun with the crystal blue waters surrounding us and the palm trees rustling in the wind. It was the perfect spot for a nap, which many enjoyed! Cam and Witt challenged the crew and our outfitters to a competitive volleyball game… we still aren’t sure who won that game! Sophia swam down the beach and found a cool rocky cave to show to the group. After an afternoon in the sun, we made the journey back to the beach house, and Mary Reese shared some of her boat wisdom as we glided along the water. That night we enjoyed super YUMMY chocolate milkshakes to finish off the day. After Moonup, Gray and Harry pointed out how incredible the stars were. We all sat on the beach and star-gazed for an hour, we saw 5 shooting stars!
On Thursday morning, we woke up and the sun was shining and the surf was GOOD! We hopped on our boards, a little bit sore from the day before, but excited to catch some more waves and improve our surfing ability! Lilly was up on her board riding waves left and right like a pro! Sophia was the last one out of the water – a true surfer! Afterward, we enjoyed a special breakfast of pancakes and bacon to give us energy for our afternoon fishing trip! We split up into separate boats for fishing and had a bit of a fishing competition. The girls were the only ones to catch a fish and it was a 4-foot Barracuda! On Friday, the tide allowed us to sleep for an extra hour, so the crew woke up with the energy to conquer the waves. James was the last one out in the water with our surfing instructors making sure to soak up every minute. After a morning of surfing, we rocked out to music on the sandbar near the beach while kicking around the hacky sack and rested for the busy travel day ahead. Today, we’re packing up our things, enjoying our last views out into the Pacific Ocean, and traveling back to Nadi to catch flights home. Everyone is sad to leave Fiji and end the tremendous adventure we’ve had but stoked to see their friends and families and tell stories of their travels.
Marthanne and Parker
June 21, 2023
Bula Vinaka everybody!!
Woah, we have had a tremendous adventure over the past few days with a lifetime of new stories to tell. After we finished scuba diving, we packed up our gear (and our new scuba certifications) and headed into the mountains. After a bumpy open-air ride, we reached Nambukelevu village and were welcomed into the village chief’s home for the welcome kava ceremony, an ages-old Fijian tradition. We donned our new sulus, a traditional Fijian garment, and sat around in a circle and enjoyed drinking kava with the chief and hearing about the village. We finished the welcome ceremony just in time for the end of the school day at the local primary school. Everyone had a great time running around the schoolyard with the kids and the local kids were thrilled to play with our Moondance crew. The rain started pouring down, and the schoolyard turned to mud but nobody was deterred. Gray and James were the first in the mud, sliding around playing in an intense volleyball match, but soon everyone was running around in the rain and sliding in the mud. The local kids then took us to the river to swim and clean up. On the way, Charlie, Archer, and a local kid found a hill to slide down in the mud. At the river, Witt initiated jumping off the rocks as he jumped in with several kids. We swam in the rain and took it all in. Harry quickly made friends with a village elder named Steve who dubbed him Harry Potter, a name that stuck with him for the remainder of our village stay and rafting trips. We dried off, made hot chocolate, and got a great night’s sleep.
On Saturday, the group woke up to the roosters surrounding the house and tried Fijian pancakes. They were great! We set off with a few villagers and our local guide on a jungle hike. Our guide and a few village kids spotted a wild orange about the size of a bowling ball and cut it down for everyone to try. We continued sloshing through the jungle mud and eventually, our village guide showed us how they build traps for mongoose and wild boar. We waded across the river a few times. Polly kept morale high by singing songs as the whole group tromped through the deep jungle mud. We collected firewood on the hike and carried it back into the village, swimming some across the river for fueling the fire for Sunday’s feast. Luckily, we had to cross the river to get back to the village so we were able to enjoy some cool mountain water to wash off the jungle mud! Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious lunch and spent the afternoon picking up trash across the village. One of our neighbors invited us in for tea and Fijian biscuits which Lilly and Mary Reese were obsessed with! They loved Fijian biscuits so much that they bought some when we got down the mountain. That night we played cards, listened to music, and played with the village children in the community hall. Sophia and Ella Anne were busy playing a game called Taki Taki with all the small children, and they came back to the house sweating, they were dancing so hard! Needless to say, we all slept well that night.
Sunday morning, we woke up and did a polar plunge! We jumped off the rocks and floated down the blue river before church. We quickly dried off, gathered our sulus, and headed to church where we enjoyed a Fijian service with beautiful singing. That afternoon we relaxed in the sun, watched a bit of rugby, and enjoyed some more tea with our neighbor. This time we were greeted with lemongrass tea and Fiji fingers. Cam absolutely loved the Fiji fingers; he was grinning ear to ear the whole teatime. To end off our last night in the village, we joined everyone in the community hall for tea and cakes and FUN!
On Monday, we woke up and got on the river. We split up into three rafts and paddled down some intense rapids all the while surrounded by tight canyon walls that towered over our crew. Although it was Lilly’s first-time rafting, she got right into it like a pro. Our guides were hilarious and between rapids, battles broke out between the boats. Gray became a formidable opponent on the river and dunked several people before finally being thrown in himself by none other than our guide, Abraham. We floated past beautiful waterfalls forming at the tops of the high canyon walls and fought through more rapids. After a few hours of rafting, we arrived at the Wainadiro village. We went to a kava welcoming ceremony where we introduced ourselves to the villagers and danced with the kids. Away from our rooster alarm clocks in Nambukelevu and exhausted from a day of rafting in the sun, the whole group slept soundly. The next day, we woke up, hopped in kayaks and rafts, and continued down the river. We stopped for lunch, hiked to a massive waterfall, and eventually said goodbye to our rafting guides. We traveled down from the mountains and out of the jungle to the Fiji Beachouse to get ready for surfing. The group is so thrilled to have had some tremendous experiences over the last few days and excited for more adventures to come.
-Parker and Marthanne
June 15, 2023
Bulavinaka from Pacific Harbour! We have had an amazing adventure already. We have learned a bit more Fijian including BULA which is hello and Vinaka which means thank you. Alongside our language learning we have immersed ourselves in Open water scuba diving skills and have all earned our Padi license!
On Monday our advanced scuba team, Gray, Archer, and Witt went on an epic shipwreck dive and saw a lot of sharks, some as big as 8 feet long! WOWZA! The rest of the crew spent the morning playing an intense game of death sack at the hostel before suiting up to go scuba diving. In the afternoon we all geared up and hopped on the boat for a quick ride to our first dive site. Some were nervous before jumping in the water, but afterwards everyone was smiling ear to ear! We learned how to clear our masks, inflate our BCDs, and share oxygen with our diving buddies. Once back on the boat, Ella Anne shared that she conquered her fear of scuba diving and was excited for the days to come! After a long day of Scuba we enjoyed a delish meal at Grace’s Kitchen and even got to explore the local grocery store. We were shocked by how many Korean snacks they had to offer!
Tuesday morning, we all woke up together and enjoyed a yummy breakfast provided by our hostel. We gathered up our wetsuits, BCDs, fins, and regulators and jumped back on the boat for our second diving session. Parker hopped on aux for the boat ride and we jammed out as we drove to our dive location. Once anchored we quickly suited up and jumped in the water. Sophia got some awesome shots on the GoPro of everyone swimming through caves. Mary Reese pointed out a small reef shark for all of us to see and enjoy! It was the first shark we had seen while diving!
After a big morning of diving, we came back to the hostel and Cam, Harry, and Witt befriended the local kids living next door and jumped off the bridge together into the river. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing an intense game of nuke em. We played a bit of boy’s vs girls and Lily was holding down the fort for the girls with her pure athleticism. We finished off the day with some burgers and the girls were able to finagle the budget to also get brownies!
On Wednesday we woke up to sun for the first time in a few days and headed straight to the beach. We (along with a few curious dogs) had the whole beach to ourselves. Harry and James challenged Sophia and Charlie in a chicken fight and the girls launched Polly in the water to show off her cheerleading skills. Everyone collaborated on a huge drip castle. After a morning in the sun, we headed back to the hostel for lunch before getting ready for an afternoon of diving. Despite the rough seas, everyone maintained a great attitude, and descended into the tranquil world below. We saw a clown fish living in a sea anemone just like Nemo 🙂 We finished up the day with good food and awesome conversations.
Today, after a big breakfast, we headed into town to buy sulus (sarongs) as they are a customary sign of respect for village gatherings. Once we explored the market, we returned to our home (for the past 5 days) for lunch before our last afternoon dive in Fiji. What the kids didn’t know, we (Parker, Marthanne, and our awesome dive guides) had a surprise planned… a shipwreck dive which would give us a good chance of potentially seeing a wandering shark. The idea of seeing a shark was exciting to some but a bit nerve-racking to others, but despite the nervousness, everyone jumped into the water and descended like a pro. As we explored the reef near a sunken fishing vessel, we saw three sharks! Just as the dive guides explained, the sharks were all friendly and we enjoyed marveling at them from a safe distance. Once we were back on the boat, we danced to music with the diving guides and everyone was super stoked that we had defied our fear and swum with the sharks! After the dive, we said a heartfelt goodbye to our fantastic diving guides, and returned to Club O where we met with our outfitters for the next section of our trip who explained village customs and important traditions. Everyone is super excited to learn more about the village culture, and we look forward to sharing new stories of our adventures in the mountains!
Marthanne and Parker
Charlie: Hi mom and dad! It is so pretty here! I learned how to scuba dive and we got to see sharks! I’m having so much fun love you!
Ella Anne: Hi mom and dad!!! I’m having so much fun! Scuba diving is so cool, we saw sharks and I lost it. Miss y’all, I love yall!!! See you soon.
Cam: Hey mom and dad! I’m having a great time in Fiji. Happy early Father’s Day and later birthday dad. Scuba diving was so fun. Love y’all!
Gray: Bula mom and dad, I’m having a fun time in Fiji. We are going to the village today and staying there for the next couple nights. I went on 4 shark dives for my certification and it was awesome. Happy early Father’s Day dad. Love y’all can’t wait to see y’all.
Lilly: hey family I’ve had fun. Happy early Father’s Day. We are about to go to a village. I am not going to vail. Love y’all
Sophia: Hi mom and dad!!! Having a blast and seeing lots of cool sea creatures! Love you and miss you both!
MR: Hey mom and dad, trip is going great- way better than Mars Boogie! Went on the best dive of my life! The photos are going to make you super jealous. Please bring me Bojo’s at the airport. Love y’all, see you soon!
Polly: hey mom and dad!! I’m having so much fun! We saw so many sharks. Miss y’all and love y’all!! See you soon!
Witt: Hey mom and dad I hope all is well back home. Tell Davis to have a good time at camp. Can you schedule me a golf lesson for the week I get back? Is there still no earlier flights home, even if that means I have a layover? Happy early Father’s Day, dad. I will see y’all see y’all next Sunday.
Archer: Hey mom and dad. I’m having a lot of fun so far. Happy early Father’s Day, dad. I will see you guys next Sunday.
Harry: Hi mom and dad, hope y’all have been well in Raleigh. It has been great here in figi learning how to scuba dive and hanging out. Happy Father’s Day dad love you! See y’all soon!
James: Hey mom and poppy, I have been having so much fun in Fiji, we just went on a shark dive yesterday which was so much fun. But I miss you all like crazy and make sure the dogs know that haha. Oh and tell Ava I miss her so much too and her letters have made my day. And poppy I think I got a really great Father’s Day gift for you so be ready and I love you all, see y’all next Sunday!
June 10, 2023
BULA from Nadi!!! We had an easy flight from LAX to Nadi last night. 10 hours on Fiji airways flew bye (no pun intended)! Most of the kids got some good sleep on the plane and were ready to attack the day this morning. After we landed we gathered our bags and went to the hotel where we had a lovely breakfast. We were able to enjoy some coffee and tropical fruits before taking a dip in the pool. Charlie and Sophia tore up the hotel’s water slide at 8:30 am! Shortly after we hopped on a shuttle that took us to the main port where we boarded the catamaran that was taking us sailing for the day. Archer made himself right at home on the nets of the catamaran, soaking up the morning sun. Witt, Cam, Gray chatted with our guides about fishing and were able to throw out a reel to troll off the back of the boat. We sailed for an hour taking in the gorgeous teal blue waters and magnificent, lush islands surrounding the boat. When we anchored it was snorkel time! Everyone got on their gear and jumped right in the South Pacific Ocean! Say what?! Our snorkel guide showed us a ton of amazing sea life including coral that changes colors and a clam the size of my head! Harry and Mary Reese found a tunnel in the sea rock and were able to swim right through it like fish. Polly and Ella Anne were diving down like dolphins to explore the seafloor – Polly even spotted a purple starfish! After our snorkel sesh we enjoyed a delicious meal on board that ended with some melt in your mouth chocolate banana bread! On the way back to the port we all laid out on bean bags soaking in the sun, listening to the waves gently hit the boat, and enjoyed some great conversations with new friends. Once back at the hotel we played a wicked game of monkey in the middle and TAPS in the pool. After a day full of water activities we worked up an appetite so it was time to head to dinner. We went back to the port and enjoyed a huge pizza dinner! As we were finishing dinner a group of Fijian men and women shared a series of traditional dances which drew in a large crowd. The men did a few dances with fire absolutely awing the crowd. Lilly and James were given fiery high fives by one of the performers! Overall we had an awesome first day in Fiji and can’t wait for the adventures to come! Vinaka!
June 9, 2023
Hello Fiji Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Fiji! 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!