On day two, we awoke early to sunshine and clearing skies, and Sam decided it was safe to set sail! We motored out of the marina, and with Denarau behind us, we launched the sails and headed north-west for the Yasawa Islands, 60 kilometres away.
With a soft tropical breeze and the gentle sway of the boat, our little family escape had begun. The kids quickly fell into holiday mode as they lay dozing on the front net.
For lunch we feasted on ham and salad wraps as we sailed past Vomo Island (the last of the Mamanuca Islands) and headed to the Yasawas.
Six hours later, the dramatic Yawa Island, with its jagged, mist-covered peaks appeared on the horizon. We anchored in a secluded bay, near a deserted beach.
Keen for a swim, everyone dived in. The kids loved jumping off the side of the boat. They were so preoccupied with snorkelling and relaxing on deck, they hadn’t mentioned any form of technology once. Kate and I sat in awe, thankful we had already found paradise.
Our third day in Fiji started with a quick breakfast of cereal and fruit. Sam had organised an island trek with a local guide named Solo. His plan was to hike up one of the tallest peaks within the Yasawa Islands. Whilst steep, and often precarious, we puffed our way to the top and despite four kids, the only whining was from me, (though Solo sometimes carried Molly, our 6 year old, on his back).
Achieving something tough as a family helped us bond. It was such an important reminder that time truly is the greatest gift you can give your children.
From the summit, we could see the rest of the Yasawa Islands; pockets of perfection leading to the horizon. From here, our tiny catamaran was just a dot in the bay, a reminder we were the only people here.
We returned to the Oniva, sweaty and exhausted, but before lunch we took the tender to a cute beach where only our footprints squeaked in the sand; it was otherwise undisturbed. I tried taking a photo to capture this, but the kids were more interested in diving into the turquoise waters, which had beckoned them on our hike back down the mountain.
That afternoon, we visited the local village on Yawa, drank kava, and danced as they played happy songs on guitars and ukuleles.We popped in to visit the village school where curly-haired youngsters with beaming smiles laughed and waved. Our kids made instant friends with the locals, who led them into the onshore breakers using whatever could float; broken surfboards, paddle boards or just bits of wood. They had fun as they laughed and played in the waves.