) my cousin Jordan and I immediately bought tickets for the Yasawa Islands. We caught a boat ride over and I could not stop gawking at how beautiful and tranquil the water was. To this day I have a spectacularly vivid memory of the calm, clear blue water and the lush island growing on the horizon. The forests were a vibrant jungle green color surrounded by silky white sand. We spent the entire week we were in Fiji on Mana Island at the Ratu Kini's Youth Hostel. We only spent nineteen a day which included a bed, three meals and entertainment at night. The hostel was also in the process of building a bar on the beach while we were there
. What was really spectacular was the five star hotel adjacent to our hostel. I forgot the name of it, but Tom Hanks stayed there while they filmed Cast Away. The actual filming took place on an adjacent island known as Treasure Island. Understandably the hotel was extremely hostel to backpackers. However, we routinely crept over there in the evenings in spite to enjoy the empty swimming pool and Jacuzzi on the beach. I remember one night while sitting in the Jacuzzi gazing out at the stars in the evening night and watching as the water cascaded of one side into a mote that separated the pool from the beach. The trees were perfectly separated which allowed me a view of the surrounding mountainous islands. That moment was an experience that defined Fiji for me. When I wasn't sleeping or swimming I was working on my scuba certification through S.S.I. or Scuba Schools International. I dove in places like the Fish Market, The Three Pinnacles, The drop off and sharks bay. On my fifth dive we descended to thirty meters or hundred feet. I remember looking out over the sandy bottom and watching as two, three foot white tip sharks swam around and searched for food. After they departed we journeyed into a cave which reminded me of the moon surface because of the soft white sand and complete lack of any life. There was a whole in the ceiling and we descended up the 20ft shaft which opened up on to a reef shelf. The brilliant sun was streaming in all around us and the fish seemed illuminated feasting off the coral. I can not compare it to anything else I have ever seen. If you are ever able to get out and travel the Fijian Islands I would highly recommend Mana Island. If you are a student I would recommend buying your travel tickets through STA travel. From L.A. to Auckland, NZ round trip with a stop in Fiji was about $1,200. As compared with a normal ticket which was closer to $2,100. Kayak rentals were seven dollars an hour, and I paid a hundred and fifty dollars for six dives and the scuba certification.
It is often remarked that a picture is worth a thousand words. After spending a week on the soft sandy beach with the lush green trees for shade, I came to realize that no words could ever do that place justice. Fiji was the first stop on a six month long study abroad trip in New Zealand this past winter. After arriving in the capitol city of Nadi (