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By Suzanne Maxx ©World Team Now

Fiji Part 2 Travel to the Yasawa Islands to…

Wayalailai Ecohaven Resort

The defining rock of the Wayalailai Ecohaven Resort Photo by Suzanne Maxx

Leading the Eco Resorts in terms of cost, meaning economy, Wayalailai Ecohaven Resort is one of the top destinations. A Native-owned small island resort, Wayalailai Ecohaven can be reached on the convenient island-hopper boat, the Yasawa Flyer. This preeminent Eco Resort, with very simple cottages, is nestled in a small beachside village against the rocky cliffs. Beyond being a backpacker’s heaven with climbing and swimming adventures galore, it is led by natives who know the region and are full of island stories and healthy tidbits to get you a natural workout. It is a dream place for the visitor’s bang for the buck.  

Wayalailai Bungalows, and Dorms Photo by Suzanne Maxx

But it is not just the tourist who benefits from Wayalailai Resort, it is the Islanders. The resort is 100% locally owned Fijian, and employs islanders and also hosts a boarding school on the other side of Wayasewa Island.  The profits of the resort go to the local school, village improvements and the church.

Yasawa Flyer Photo by Suzanne Maxx

Wayalailai Resort has renewable energy goals and is at the same time rebuilding from the hurricanes, which have unfortunately become more extreme and frequent. Housekeeping leaves small portable solar panels out on the lawn to soak in the sun and charge phones daily. Wayalailai Resort is interested in deploying more solar to fully power an Ecohaven Resort. While there, we began brainstorming about possibilities for the future, and what a renewable future would look like for three of the village areas around the island.

Wayalailai Resort Photo by Suzanne Maxx

The resort is owned and managed by native Fijians, who put their heart into what is offered, sharing hikes up to the peak, leading native Kava ceremonies, community meals, and traditional cultural rituals. Kava is a beverage made from Piper Methysticum, a native plant. Here too, guests have the chance to participate in the Kava ritual with the local chief (Ratu), which includes cupping hands and clapping with rounded palms to keep the spirit held within the hands. Repeated three times, it changes the perception of time, with all participants sitting on the floor in a circle, journeying back to the traditional ceremony’s depth of bonding the community spiritually. All sleep well after drinking the natural Kava, which is now becoming a popular industry through the benefits of a globalized economy.

Wayalailai Resort Photo by Suzanne Maxx

Wayalailai Resort still lives close to nature and native culture and remains relatively undeveloped with one of the best value propositions on the islands. It is a true eco bargain and is wildly popular with backpackers seeking an affordable place with the basics, set above the ocean. It is loved by the college-age jet-set who are out to save and have a good time and is popular with families on a budget who all want to live close to the Fijian native culture. This resort gives people the most for the least amount of cost. Here the most vigorous adventure spirit can thrive in many ways—by awakening at sunrise for the guided hike to the top of the rocks that hover over the quaint Eco Resort and village below, going on a sunset sail, or having a beach BBQ.

Wayalailai Resort Photo by Suzanne Maxx

Everything at the resort is done on a personal basis and in a very simple way, with a focus on genuine service and support that caters to a multitude of diverse international needs. A highlight is the breadth of organized activities that integrate different cultures’ games, and ways to just play. From a really fun dance game, bobbing for apples, to a celebratory parade to celebrate Fiji 7’s win, the spirit of Bula prevails. The resort is really authentic, keeping everything close to the basics with nature and culture. Wayalailai Resort is an international portal, popular for locals, Australians, New Zealanders, and the global backpacker who is ready for Wi-Fi, ocean sports, and activities, in a friendly environment. Luxury in proportion to budget, this spot fulfills the basic needs for the minimum cost and is known as the leading Eco in economical resorts where you get the most for the least. This island allows for a true Eco spirit, a favorite to New Zealanders and Australians, as here you can really get close to more of the Fijian native culture too.

Islanders Celebrating Fiji’s Olympic Gold Medal Win Photo by Suzanne Maxx

While there, we celebrated the big Olympic Rugby Gold ceremony, and sat with the Ratu Sakaria Tuinasau (Chief’s name in Fijian) and elders for a traditional Kava ceremony, after the music and dance fun games that are a part of this resort’s integration of cultures.

After Sunset Wayalailai Eco Haven Photo by Suzanne Maxx

By a small boat, I was brought to the other side of the island by the entourage of villagers who had accompanied the local Chief (Ratu).  I was honored to be brought to the humble, yet beautiful dwelling of the Ratu to talk, share ritual and prayer in his family home, and tour the villages. Hearing the needs of the villagers left me eager to give what we could, bring in a team, contribute human capital, and resources to do our best to support their needs. On the other side of the island is a school, and two small villages. They had some solar panels but had been waiting for the inverters to be sent for over a year, so they were not functioning at the time of my visit. The villages would benefit from team efforts with water, sanitation, and renewable energy. One of the small villages near Wayalailai Resort had been destroyed by TC Winston and was still in need of the resources to rebuild at the time of my visit. Every day from there after I witnessed more opportunities for transformation and renewal of island locations.  In Nadi, I met with the manager/local owner representing the people of the island to see what the next steps might be for World Team Now to serve and support their villages and the native people of the island.

Natural Beauty on the Island of Wayasewa  Photo by Suzanne Maxx

One of the highlights at Wayalailai Resort was a snorkel trip, where I got to swim with sharks out on a reef and experience the peaceful beauty of the species that has been publically misunderstood. These are reef sharks, friendly to people and part of the biodiversity that is needed to sustain the oceans’ health. Learning to care for, respect, and understand sharks is critical, especially to transform public perception of the health of the ocean. Biodiverse systems that sustain the health of the oceans with species dependent on one another is a critical concept to embrace for a sustainable future.

Yasawa Island Fiji Photo by Suzanne Max

Eco Island Adventure  Part 3: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort to be Continued….

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