Barbecue in Yasawa A Tranquil Pacific Island

The first thing I noticed on our cruise to Yasawa was the rising sun shining through the porthole. It was projected onto the cabin wall, a reddish ball of fire, shimmering, and seemingly growing larger by the minute. So calm was the sea that it appeared virtually stationary but then moved slightly as our cruise ship moved on the sea. Suddenly there was the rattle of the anchor. We had arrived in Manunggila bay off one of the remotest of the islands in the Yasawa group.

This tropical paradise in the South Pacific, near to the equator, is part of the Fijian group. The customs and culture in Fiji, to the east, are Polynesian but this village is home to 140 Melanesians, the only occupants of this remote island.

Estimates of anthropologists suggest that their ancestry can be traced back to Indonesia and South East Asia. Their navigational skills together with the constant westerly winds enabled them to explore over thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean. The physical attributes necessary to achieve these feats are reflected in the sturdy people of today. What made them strike out into the unknown in the hope of finding land? They could not have forecast this blissful tranquility. In fact their history was not a peaceful one until the islands were ceded to the British in 1874.

Passengers were ferried ashore by the ship's tender. Already the crew had been at work transferring the equipment needed for a beach barbecue. We had ceased to be amazed at the quantity of food on offer and the unfailing courtesy of the staff. We were cautioned to leave the island in the same condition as we found it - a small enough request considering the havoc that the full complement of passengers could cause.

We sat near the beach under the shade of a broad-leafed tree. The sun was so strong that the shade was as important as our shadows were short.