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Our trips are one-of-a-kind, life changing adventures. But don’t just take our word for it.
- Matt's been around the world with Broadreach.
- I've traveled to the Caribbean, Egypt, and Fiji and the Solomon Islands ...
- Once again, Merry had an amazing summer with Broadreach. The diving surpassed ...
- We wanted our daughter to have an adventure that she would remember when ...
- Alex’s trip to the Fiji/Solomon Islands combined an incredibly fun adventure ...
- We are supporters of Broadreach. All three of our children have been ...
- I had a fantastic trip. I saw so many aquatic animals - 7ft. Manta Rays, ...
- I really enjoyed this trip for the culture and exotic aspect of it.
- The Broadreach Fiji trip was an amazing experience. I made some great ...
- Although being in the South Pacific was unbelieveable, what made the ...
- First of all, she really loved the trip. The diving was amazing and ...
- FSQ is a great trip that has left me with many awesome and valuable memories. ...
- The range of experiences exceeded our expectations in every area
- Video: Hear what Jacob said about diving in Fiji and Solomon islands
- Video: Hear what Anna said about diving in Fiji and Solomon islands
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This summer I traveled to Fiji and the Solomon Islands for three weeks. At first, the idea of spending three weeks in a totally foreign environment and sharing the journey with nine complete ...This summer I traveled to Fiji and the Solomon Islands for three weeks. At first, the idea of spending three weeks in a totally foreign environment and sharing the journey with nine complete strangers worried me. Would I fit in? What if I lost something? What kind of people would I meet on these exotic islands? However, as the departure date crept closer and closer my anxieties were replaced by an excited curiosity. I started asking myself what kind of adventures the South Pacific would offer me. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was in for a voyage of a lifetime.
The trip started with one of the countless airplanes I would fly on throughout the duration of the adventure... with a final landing in Ghizo in the Solomon Islands. Looking down at the perfectly clear water at the coral reefs from the airplane, I knew that the diving here was going to be spectacular. We met Danny, our dive master, settled ourselves in the lodge, and dove straight into the wonderful culture of the Solomon Islands. The people on these islands are some of the friendliest and giving people I have ever come across. The only thing that took time getting used to was the cold showers. One unique opportunity came when Danny introduced us to the man who saved JFK when his boat, PT-109, sank off of Ghizo during World War II. Also, just I had suspected, the diving was beyond words. When we did our check-out dive, I could scarcely contain my amazement at the incredible natural beauty of the coral reefs. The marine diversity blew me away. I took two rolls of film right away.
As the week progressed, it was so easy to fall in love with this place. Diving every day became the norm—one dive in the morning, picnic lunch on an island, one dive in the afternoon. In addition to awesome scuba diving, the snorkeling allowed us even more time in the water because the coral went right up to the beach. As we became more comfortable with the diving, we became more comfortable with each other. Friendships developed immediately. The group bonded spectacularly. The fun just kept coming, whether we were attempting to cook for the first time with a gas stove, going to the Friday island dances, or hanging out on the beach after diving on the Toa Maru Japanese WWII wreck.
Unfortunately, we had to leave Ghizo and head to the island of Munda. On the boat trip there, we stopped at another island for an excellent lobster lunch and a tour of Skull Island to see the cannibal shrines. It was a bit creepy to hike through the jungle, avoiding the rather large spiders, to suddenly come upon a stone mound whose niches were filled with skulls. I loved learning about the Solomon Islands’ history. Cannibalistic until around the 1950’s, the Solomon people ended their man-eating habits when missionaries came over to convert them to Christianity. We also found out that one of the native guides who worked for Danny was the son of a headhunter! The unique history of these people brought the islands to life.
When we arrived in Munda, the weather was rainy and the seas rough. Our spirits, however, were buoyed by the ever-energetic Echo who entertained us with her “hydration games”. Echo, Casey, and I enjoyed going to the morning market to buy fresh fruit and bread for breakfast. Casey and I even found a place to buy chocolate—a treat we had been greatly missing! One of my best memories of Munda was when we encountered a beautiful banded sea snake. The sleek predator was hunting in the coral heads. When I finally got my courage, I reached out to gently touch it. The snake continued on, ignoring my presence, leaving me utterly breathless. I will never forget that moment. On the land, we toured Munda’s jungles and saw the remains of the World War II battles. It was humbling to crawl inside a Japanese foxhole and imagine what it would have been like to live there for months.
We left Munda to head for the paradise island of Fiji. The lodge we stayed in, Bibi’s Hideaway, was by far the most comfortable. The family who owned the lodge invited us to their home every evening to listen to the guitar and drink kava. Kava is the traditional local drink made from roots and water. As always, we were excited to get diving and see how Fiji compared to the Solomons.
The diving in Fiji was colder and much more intense. The current was always strong, so we had to constantly be on our guard. Fortunately, the strong current carries the nutrients needed to support immense amounts of coral, so the underwater life was beyond amazing. Every day we saw rainbows above and below water. The colors of the soft corals were astounding. Fiji definitely earns its title of “Soft Coral Capital of the World”.
In addition to diving, we found other land-only activities to keep us entertained. Casey, Doug, and I found an excellent coffee and pastry shop run by the sweetest old woman, Audrey, who made the best chocolate cake ever. Also, we ocean kayaked, snorkeled, and played Frisbee. On the second-to-last day, we went on an intense jungle trek to see three magnificent waterfalls. At the third waterfall, we took turns jumping off a rock into the pool below. Finally, after washing off all the sticky jungle mud, we donned our sulus (traditional wraparound skirts) and headed for the village we would be staying in for the night. The children of the village were the first to greet us. It was wonderful to play with them. One of my most precious memories was when I tried to teach them my name. Pointing to myself, I said “Mia”. I don’t think that they understood me because immediately they each pointed to themselves and began running around shouting “Mia!” Even though there was a language barrier, I spent hours playing anything I could think of with those beautiful children. I will always cherish the innocent joy I share with them.
That evening, the villagers prepared a lavish feast, complete with whole octopus and sea snails marinated in coconut milk, along with the more familiar dishes of fish and rice. After eating, we joined the villagers in a round of singing, dancing, and kava. We performed the Electric Slide for them, amid hoots of laughter and giggling. Finally, the amazing night came to a close with all the Broadreachers snuggled into their sleeping bags or beds.
The next morning I woke to Casey’s gentle whispering. She pointed to the door. Framed in the doorway was the most striking sunrise I have ever witnessed. It was a fitting end to an unforgettable trip. We packed our smelly bags with heavy hearts and left for one last small adventure. Down the road from the village, we swam at another beautiful beach and rode on billybilly rafts. We laughed and had as much fun as we could, because we knew our time in the South Pacific was coming to a close.
Arriving at the airport, we had to say a tearful goodbye to Jason and Echo. I couldn’t have asked for better or more supportive leaders. We boarded our flight back to the U.S. and prepared for the long journey home. When we got to L.A., we had to go through customs. Many of our friends had to catch flights home as soon as we finished getting our bags, so we had to say farewell to Casey, David, Jacopo, Francesca, and Alex. The rest of us had plenty of time to kill so we took a taxi to nearby Santa Monica for a relaxing dinner. Finally, I had to leave. It is so hard to say goodbye to people you have grown to know as family.
When my plane landed in Orlando, I was so happy to see my family. I knew how dirty I was, so the hot shower waiting for me at home was a joyous occasion. I don’t think I stopped talking about the trip for three days. My pictures, both above and below water, turned out great. The trip to the South Pacific was not only a fun adventure; it gave me the chance to learn a lot about myself and others. Through Broadreach, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. Fiji and the Solomon Islands will always be a special part of me. I know that someday I will return to the South Pacific and begin a new chapter in the adventure of life.
People find me strange when the only word I can find to describe my summer experience is crazy. Everything was crazy. The fact that I was in Fiji and the Solomon Islands was crazy. Flying half ...People find me strange when the only word I can find to describe my summer experience is crazy. Everything was crazy. The fact that I was in Fiji and the Solomon Islands was crazy. Flying half way around the world is just insanely amazing.
It all began on a plane ride from LAX to Nadi, Fiji. The group met, the group bonded. I found myself seated next to a girl named Veronica, who turned out to be just like me. We were fast friends. She and I both had the same sense of humor; both of us were so excited to be going to Fiji and to be scuba diving again. We arrived in Nadi and then had to transfer planes and fly to Taveuni, our home for the next week. We arrived at Nadi Airport while it was still dark out. As we flew to Taveuni, the sun began to rise. Little did we know we were in Fiji. Veronica and I couldn’t believe it. We kept saying, “ This is insane. We’re in Fiji. We’re half way around the world.”
As the sun rose, we saw the beautiful land below us. Crystal clear waters let us see right down to the reefs. As we landed in Taveuni, Veronica cried out, there’s a turtle. And there really was a turtle; we could see it from a couple thousand feet in the air.
We knew we were set. By day four of the trip, everyone on the trip was great friends. In the girls cabin at Bibi’s Hideaway, we were already making plans for how we were going to see each other after the trip. We kept realizing we were doing it and telling ourselves to stop. After all we were going to be together for another 2 ½ weeks, and we shouldn’t be thinking about being anywhere else but the beautiful place we were, Fiji.
I would go ahead and explain my whole trip, but that cannot be done in anything less than a novel. I could write an entire thesis paper on true beauty of my trip. But I wont. Instead I include a day, not about the amazing diving, or the great friendships, the beauty of the lands but about my family in Fiji.
On our last full day in Taveuni, we started out by doing some window cleaning at the local hospital. It’s an open-air hospital and the healthcare in Fiji is completely socialized. It was a great thing to be able to help out the nurses, who are so busy that they don’t have the time to do as much cleaning as they wish they could do.
Then we visited the International Dateline. We were able to stand on both yesterday and today at the exact same time. It’s the only place in the ENTIRE world that it’s possible to do that. Haleigh and I were so excited hoping from one to the other, making up jokes about being in two places at the same time.
When we visited the village of Qeleni, where we would spend the night, I was shocked at the warmth they offered us. From the moment we stepped out of the van, we were in a way that strangers have never treated me. Adam, our instructor, was the only person in the group returning to the village. These cute little children came running up to the van, and when they saw Adam, a small murmur went through the group and started to spread. “Adam, Adam’s back!” Suddenly a little child came up and grabbed each of our hands and led us to where we would be staying.
After we got settled in we hiked over to a nearby river and then up to the waterfall. We jumped off the 30-FOOT WATERFALL! It was crazy and sooooo much fun. Adam and PJ even decided to take the plunge together.
On the hike back we walked past the school. The kids were just getting out, so we started playing with a few of them. We began a small game of tag. By the end, we had over a hundred kids playing. They didn’t care who we were, or where we were from, or why we were playing with them. They didn’t care that complete strangers were coming up to them and tagging them and tickling them. We were all falling all over the ground in the mud, us girls in our sulus (wraps that feel like skirts). Never have I had such genuine fun with kids who most of which never even learned our names and we never learned theirs. We didn’t have to. Later we started some games of ring-around-the-rosy, duck-duck-goose and red light green light. Most of the kids didn’t speak English or understand any more than that they were having so much fun with us. We were new to them, we were exciting. And I got the feeling from them that I was family. They would run up to me just to hold my hand and to touch my hair, or to beckon me to join another game of duck-duck-goose.
That night we had a feast for dinner. And afterwards, a dancing performance and then we got our chance to try our hands at Fijian dancing. I’m sure we looked quite silly and uncoordinated, but we were laughing so hard no one cared. Then we participated in our usual kava ceremony and played some games with the villagers. During dinner all the little kids had been crowding around the outside of the building we were eating in, more like a hut actually. During the dancing and kava, until they all started to slip off to bed, they came and sat by us, many wishing to look at our cards and sit in our laps.
I stumbled to bed at about 11, exhausted but completely happy. I think I probably fell asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow, and slept so well that night. I woke up about half an hour before wake up time and had to go to the bathroom, so I walked over to the toilet. When I returned, there were four of our little friends sitting on the front steps of the house. They were peering into the house to see if anyone was awake. I decided not to go back to sleep and instead sat around with the four of them just playing a little bit and sitting together. I watched some kids go to school. I also watched two boys climb these cumquat trees and down onto these branches that no American child would normally climb on. They were so skilled.
Mostly I just sat there thinking. I wondered why I’d been so lucky as to choose Broadreach’s Fiji trips of all the other choices I had. I thought about how simple life was in Fiji and yet how incredibly happy these people were, without all these electronic toys or silly super cars. And they were smart, really smart. And really athletic. When we were playing duck-duck-goose, all the Broadreachers kept getting caught by kids who were just 4 years old, they were incredibly fast. I thought about the amazing place I was in and how much I wasn’t looking forward to leaving. That’s when I decided once and for all that I would have to return to Fiji at least once more in my life. That is my new life goal. To return to this beautiful country that has given me so much and asked for nothing in return.
As we got into our van after breakfast that morning, it was a bittersweet goodbye. Some of the littler ones came up and gave us hugs, and everyone thanked us for being there. It was amazing; even then they were thanking us. I hope I showed them my gratitude. It honestly felt like we were leaving family. After all, I was family!
In just one day I have enough of a story to last me a lifetime. I continually tell the story of this great day, as well as all the rest on my trip. If the village of Qeleni could read this…Thanks for your love, it’s the purest I’ve ever known.
A student in Fiji
Umba! An 83 year-old man, sitting Indian-style on a woven mat, passes me a carved wooden bowl filled with murky liquid and claps his hands three times. His name is Nathan, and he is the chief ...Umba!
An 83 year-old man, sitting Indian-style on a woven mat, passes me a carved wooden bowl filled with murky liquid and claps his hands three times. His name is Nathan, and he is the chief of the Nakamoto village in Kadavu, Fiji. “Umba!” he says. In English, the word “umba” is translated to “this is the beginning.” Bowls of kava are passed around, and the ceremony continues. As the villagers drink bowl after bowl, the atmosphere of the hut drifts into one filled with peace and smiles. Welcome to their traditional kava ceremony.
During the summer of 2007, I spent 4 weeks living among the locals in the South Pacific, scuba diving in some of the most remote and spectacular dive sites in the world. My first, and personal favorite destination was the beautiful island of Kadavu. I spent the last night of my visit in Kadavu in the Nakamoto village, where I began my story.
The night of the kava ceremony was an eye-opening cultural experience. As an American, it was fascinating to experience a way of life so vastly different from my own. Whereas many people would regard this village as backwards and impoverished, I came to the realization that it wasn’t backwards or impoverished at all, just different. The villagers shared with one another and settled arguments with peace and respect. They were kind and generous to strangers, welcoming us into their village as if we were family. Although they were not as technically advanced as Americans, in many ways they were much more socially advanced.
For many people, travel is a way to become more culturally aware, more exposed. On the night of the kava ceremony, however, it dawned on me that travel was more than just exposing yourself to new ways of doing and seeing things. Travel is about liberating yourself from the mindset of an American and witnessing the world from a fresh perspective. Each town I visit allows me to step outside the little box to which I’ve grown accustomed and learn about other cultures and people, like the Fijians. My experiences in travel have not only given me a broadened cultural awareness, but also an enriched personal awareness. With each new adventure I learn a little bit about my surroundings, and a little bit about myself. After all, only from the outside can you look back in.
In the Caribbean, I learned that I could do anything. On the fourth day of my visit to Saba Island, my travel companions and I decided to climb Mount Scenery, the highest peak in the Dutch Islands. One thousand and sixty-four hand-hewn steps to the top. Having nearly turned around five or six times, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I finally reached the summit. Standing atop of Mount Scenery with my head in the clouds, I smiled and gave myself a pat on the back. It was thus far the hardest mental and physical challenge I had faced, and I did it. I did it, proving to myself that I can do anything when I put my mind to it. It was a day of both cultural and personal growth.
Right now, my 75 year-old grandfather is trekking across the rolling hills of Papua New Guinea. Why? Because he hasn’t been there yet. My grandparents have traveled to over 100 countries around the world and have plans to see the rest. Their passion for travel has transcended the generations and nestled within me. As I grow older, I’d like to follow in their footsteps and see the world. So far to date, I’ve biked across the Irish countryside, drank wine in a Tuscan vineyard, climbed to the highest peak in the Dutch Islands, and swam with hammerhead sharks in the Solomon Islands. This is just the start of my life’s adventure, and there will be much more to come. Like travel, I am sure that college will provide opportunities for me to grow and develop as a person. College will be the second mountain I climb and an adventure in itself. Umba!
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