Fiji & Dravuni Island:Paradise On Earth
Cruise Ship Diaries Chapter 44
Dravuni Island still sticks in my mind as one of the most visually stunning places I've ever been in my life and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go there twice.
When you think of Island Paradise's this place ticks all the boxes, Dravuni is a volcanic island in the Kadavu group of islands in Fiji. The island is tiny covering only 0.8km (or 0.3 square miles) and has an approximate population of 125 people, meaning this is not your local touristy island like you'll get in the Caribbean.
Being such a small island there is next to no infrastrucure set up for bigger cruise ships to dock (well theres no pier!), so even for us on the Sun, Darvuni was a tender port. Pretty much the whole team got off on the first tender so we could explore and shoot as much as possible before the islands population would more than quadruple for the day in a few short hours.
Even with the tenders the boats had to almost beach themselves on the shore and the only way to get ashore was to climb out of the boat into the shallow water and walk up the sand onto the beach. I can only imagine in this day and age of complaining and overly zealous health and safety how many people would even attempt the way to get ashore everyone did back in 2008. It was not often as a photog that you got to shoot a gangway barefoot in the sand with such an amazing natural backdrop, indeeed our manager Mick had volunteered himself to shoot gangway which was generally unheard of for a photo manager, but Mick knew what an amazing port it was.
Uniform might have fallen by the wayside on this day as you can see by the photo above. There really is not much to the island and the centre of the village is a few buildings and a primary school, an old village site and village burial ground. The main attraction for many is to hike the hilltop track to the highest point of the island that gives you amazing panoramic views of the whole island and from where you can see other islands in the distance.
I'll freely admit it was stupidly hot again and we were all knackered just carrying the kit between us up to the top of the mountain and as junior I was essentially the pack mule for the day, setting up the tripod and carrying all the kit. I wasn't thrilled by this as there was no real need for me to carry the seniors kit as we were both used to carrying that kit by ourselves on a typical day ashore, this also meant I barely touched the camera or filmed anything on that day. The problem was there was no clear delineation that day if I was working or off with my friends? Was I supposed to follow around my senior the whole day just carrying his gear?
Nope, I'd had enough and said 'Cool, well if you've got enough footage then' and walked off, I figured we'd hiked to the top of the island filming as we go which was the hard part so unless I was actually given the kit and told to go some something myself I wasn't going to spend the rest of the day as a donkey carting kit around.
I got a frosty reception from my senior along the lines of 'Well, I guess...''Cool, see you later! and I was off! The other main attraction of Dravuni was the crystal clear waters, pristine beaches and the amazing snorkelling which I fully intended to sample for the rest of the day.
The day didn't pass without incident though and one of the waiters slipped and gashed his head really badly on the sharp coral, later I ran into the cast and hungout with them for a bit
What really appealed to me was Dravuni was the least developed non commercialised place I'd ever been too at this point in my life, there was no shops, no restaurants and it was completely unlike any other port I'd ever been too.
Once the I'd settled the 'Is this a work day or not question?' by deciding it wasn't I throughly enjoyed myself for the rest of the day snorkelling and just chilling on the beach.
With all the stress I was under at this point of the World Cruise Dravuni was just the perfect day to kick back and relax for a few hours and on my very last cruise months later I'd end up back on a final trip to Dravuni and although most of my friends had left by this point and the weather was not as good as the first visit, it was still a magical place.
I got on the first tender and unencumered by camera equipment this time (it was definitely a day off this time!) hiked as fast as I could to top the of the mountain as I figured I'd have a solid 45 minutes to an hour at the top of the peak before the guests made it up there and then later the crew once they were allowed off. I had a solid 45 completely by myself at the top of what felt like my own personal private island, where I didn't see another person or hear anything else than the breeze and the sounds of nature.
Although Tahiti and French Polynesia would stake their claim at this point in my ship career Dravuni was simply the best place I'd ever visited.
On the next cruise diairies - 30th Birthday and a Hiroshima Hangover!