September 2, 2020 ; 11:13 AM
17°46’S, 177°04’E – Navadra, Fiji
Monuriki (not to be confused with Castaway Island) is beautiful and diverse- although it’s only about 100 acres large. Monuriki is where most of the extremely slow but occasionally hilarious Tom Hanks movie was filmed- but Castaway Island has a resort of the same name. So, tourists sometimes end up there rather than the uninhabited paradise of Monuriki. Also not to be confused with Rafiki, who is the baboon from the Lion King 😊.
After a not so good night’s sleep (anchorage was rolly and winds were high), Admiral Anne was chomping at the bit for an explore first thing in the morning. To shore we went in search of the hiking trail.
The term “trail” should be taken VERY loosely in this post. It’s more likely that a group of drunken college kids stumbled around with pink ribbon and tied them around nonsensically than that someone tried to trample a trail. Seriously, there might be hidden cameras around that filmed Amazing Grace, Amari, and Influencer stumbling around the jungle. Yes, our falls and confusion were hilarious, and if you’re out there reading this- we are interested in making a rights deal to fund the rest of our circumnavigation.
Each not-a-path we explored led to varying difficulty of hike based on elevation, barriers, and number of spiders. This naturally split us off into 3-4 different groups. I can only speak to the couple hour, achieve highest elevation as possible until continuing up the cliff would lead to certain doom hike that Captain Dave, Amari’s skipper, and I did- but if you want to hear about people smarter than us who found a real trail you’ll have to talk to Admiral Anne.
Our hike began on the gorgeous, white sand beach before we cut inland. We trudged through arid, dry woods full of sticker plants (which thoroughly cut up our legs) until we came to a steep rock face. After some hands-and-feet climbing, we made it to a magnificent view overlooking the surrounding islands.
As we climbed down the other side, we found a lush jungle. The plants and soil changed completely. Queue killer spiders.
The worst part about leading on these not-path hikes is the spider webs you have to knock down to get through. Usually, they’re large webs with little, half-inch diameter creepy crawlers. NOT ON MONURIKI. We encountered the largest spiders I’ve seen since the tarantulas in Big Bend. But unlike tarantulas, they’re not crawling on the ground, they’re eye level and menacing and you might not see them until they’re 4 inches in front of your face. YIKES!
As we zig zagged through the spider jungle, we eventually came to clearings where it was straight up fall. A complete season change happened in the course of a few feet, and we were surrounded by gorgeous red and orange leaves.
Eventually, we made our way back down to the sea, because it was obvious there was no way for us to get to the top without climbing gear and we were absolutely nowhere near a trail. We emerged from the woods in the middle of a rock beach.
Remember the scene in castaway where he’s trying to spear the fish?? That was us wading through the water. And the crabs? They really scurry all over these rocks. We even found Tom Hanks’ cave! Or at least one camera angle of it.
As we walked back toward the boats, we returned to the white, sandy beach where most of Castaway was filmed and met up with Admiral Anne and the others. We loved that we had seen such a variety of landscape and vegetation on such a short hike, and we had the battle scratches to prove it.
After a quick lunch on the boat we returned to the island for some beach time, and we FOUND WILSON!
Don’t we look as rugged as Tom Hanks? Isn’t Wilson getting better with age? It was a very fun, silly day- topped off with a short motor to Navadra (thanks to Gracie Girl for getting off that island).
On the short passages around the Nasawa islands, we’ve been stretching Gracie Girl’s sails. Unfortunately, since getting the main patched, we’ve had trouble unfurling as the sail jams in the mast. Hopefully, it will work itself out over time. But with the time and effort it takes to crank the sail out (Captain Dave on deck pulling, me on the winch), we are SO HAPPY it’s a problem here within island wind protection, and not on the open ocean.
Here off the coast of Navadra we have the cove all to ourselves, except a trimaran on the other end catching some waves. We spent a nice, quiet evening grilling on the boat and watching the sun set over the hills.
Then this morning we snorkeled both sides of the island. We saw our first turtle in a while and walked down the beach, where there was a sign that we weren’t allowed to come to land without permission. Who’s permission did we need? Probably the chief’s. Now we’re off to meet up with the other Bitter Enders and find the chief!
First mate, Amazing Grace
TLDR: While on Monuriki, Tom Hanks made best friends with a volleyball. For me, it was a very long stick that I used to bat away the large and scary spiders…