A great deal of thought and planning went into this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Fletch and I were at home in our tiny, mustard-walled, one-room apartment playing with Ratu Kitty Cooper (our kitty that I now realize I have failed to welcome into our lives with a proper blog post. That will come shortly). Fletch asked, "So what are we doing for New Year’s this year?" I thought about it for a good 60 seconds. These things are very important decisions. Kitty rolled over and stretched. “Beachcomber?” I asked after a minute. Beachcomber Island is another island in the Mamanuca group of islands where we are. It is meant to be the party island out of the group, and so I figured must be as good a place as any to bring in the new year. So Fletch booked us the last couple of spots in the dorm and that was that. 

Beachcomber Island, Fiji

December 31 our resort’s transfer boat brought us about 30 minutes east to the little bloop of sand that is Beachcomber Island. The island is so small that there is only one resort on it, and it takes maybe 30 minutes to walk around the entire island at a leisurely pace. It is the quintessential beach paradise island if all you are looking for is a party and a roof over your head.

The dorms were large and accommodated 100 bunks. Luckily they had lockers built in underneath. Also, just for the record, if anyone is finding this blog after searching for the same question that Fletch and I had, passports are not required to check in. The check-in form asked for our passport numbers, but never asked to see our physical passports. We had been debating whether to bring them or not. They were not needed.

Beachcomber Island Resort

Beachcomber Island Resort was much larger than I had been expecting. I have become so attached to our own, quaint little backpackers' place, that I had begun to assume that other hostel-type accommodations in Fiji would be similar. Beachcomber was the Disneyland of islands though, with not only the resort’s 200 guests enjoying the picturesque beaches, but day trips full of tourists pulling in and out every half hour as well. The day crowd consisted largely of families with sunburnt, screaming kids, Chinese couples in matching white outfits taking photos, and overweight, pasty-white couples from a monstrosity of a cruise ship, barely visible off of the mainland in the distance. Fletch and I eyed everyone suspiciously, wondering where the party was.

We had spent the previous night eating sandwiches and sifting through the horror show of one-star reviews on TripAdvisor. There were, of course, mostly good reviews, but the one-star ones are always the informative ones. When traveling to a hostel, it is important to know how many times the word “bedbug” comes up, and then wish you had gone in oblivious to the knowledge.

From the collection of tirades, we had learned that the food would be abominable. That is the other benefit to reading only the one-star reviews: reality can only exceed your expectations, and it did. The food was delightfully average. I had expected a buffet of rice and meat and french fries. The variety was much more generous than just that though. For the non-meat eaters, there was fried eggplant, rourou (taro leaves cooked like spinach in coconut milk), and a bean and corn salad. The eggplant was horribly greasy, but I was just happy that there was something veggie to eat. The rourou was the highlight.

We spent the afternoon at the bar, ordering one concoction of a cocktail after another. The piña coladas were disappointing, but the hot mamas (exactly the same ingredients as a piña colada) were delicious. My favorite ended up being danny boy, which was creme de menthe, light rum, dark rum, and fruit juice. The mint made it refreshing instead of overly sweet, and masked the taste of the over-proofed, local rum.

In the late afternoon, Fletch and I grabbed our snorkel gear to see what the water was like. We walked halfway around the island, to a spot where people had been talking about sharks, and then realized that it was shallow for a good long while until the reef. Venturing into the water suddenly seemed like more effort than we were willing to put into the early evening, and we instead finished our walk around the island.

We met up with a girl who had cut our hair back on Mana. Lots of people go island hopping around the Mamanucas, and this girl had been on Mana Island the previous week. Living on an island, neither Fletch nor I had had a proper haircut in ages. Every trip to the mainland was spent running errands during the few, short business hours for which we were there. So when this girl told us she was a hairdresser, Fletch ran to the room to grab his comb (a free one from Korean Airlines) and scissors, and we bribed her with beer to please cut our hair. She was happy to oblige, and so now on Beachcomber we were still buying her beers and praising her skill with scissors to every passerby.

We met a very bubbly and boisterous blonde girl in a bright green, frilly, party dress, and her less animated, though equally sociable friend. We learned that they were veterinarians over in Nadi, and when we told them that we were from Mana Island, the blonde girl exclaimed that she had met a guy from Mana, a British guy with the most beautiful dog. We told her that that was our friend Aaron, and that we were sorry to inform her, but Charlie was gone, she had been poisoned. “I know,” she said, “I was the one who put her down.” Several more tragic stories followed, in the same exuberant, bubbly manner, until we asked her to please tell us one with a happy ending. The conversation moved on to puppies.

Rainstorm over Treasure Island in the distance.

After dinner, Fletch and I went for another walk and found a hammock that was meant to be shared between a couple of the private rooms. Everyone was getting their drink on though, and so no one was around to care that we had hijacked the hammock.

By the time we made it back to the festivities, the crowd had shifted. The strange day-goers were gone, and the party animals had emerged out of the woodwork.

Polynesian dancers entertained us with traditional lively dance moves, followed by fire dancing. No fire dancing will ever compare to the spectacles that happened in Thailand on a nightly basis, but it was probably the best show that we had seen in Fiji.

The room full of drunk people all gathered together for a limbo competition, which was more entertaining to watch than I care to admit.

And then we danced.

We danced the night away to all the songs that were top hits five years ago. Music is always behind in the islands. Some songs even went back to when I was in high school. A few of the songs neither Fletch nor I recognized, but all the young gap-years seemed to know all the words. Goes to show how out of touch we are with music, or pop-culture for that matter. I wasn’t sure what was worse, the fact that most of the songs were five years old, or the fact that we didn’t recognize the few songs that were more recent.

When we tired of dancing, we found a staircase leading up to a balcony, where we sat and happily watched the party revolve around the room, like the hands on a clock, ticking down the minutes til midnight. Ticking down the little bit that was left of 2016. Singles gradually became couples. Couples parted into singles. The party raged on.

I lost track of time, but we made it back downstairs into the chaos of drunk dancers maybe ten minutes before the final countdown began. Before I knew it, the room was echoing with the sound of everyone counting 10. 9. 8.








Happy New Year!!!

We didn’t sing Auld Lang Syne. We sang Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate). Because why not welcome in 2017 with some 80’s disco music. 

At the sound of fireworks, everyone ran outside to watch the show. Our display was nothing to brag about, but what was a never-to-forget show, was watching dozens of displays go off all along the coast of the mainland. I've seen plenty of fireworks go off in my life, but what I've never seen is so many shows at once, across the water, all along the coast of the next land mass. That was a cool picture. A picture that will forever be burned in my mind's eye because I didn't have a phone with a camera there to pass it off to. Fletch and I went the whole evening without phones, and realized at the end of the night, that we were two of the only people throughout the party who had seen the night in reality, and not through a phone screen.

We partied for maybe another hour and then drifted off to one of the bunk beds.

Beachcomber was a bit like Koh Phi Phi: good to get your party fix (a much more tamed down version), but not a place I would stay for longer than a night or two. While the island was beautiful, and the backpacker accommodations were much cleaner than expected, the amount of people coming and going was reminiscent of an amusement park. We had a fantastic time, and started the new year off with a bang, but honestly, the more resorts we visit, the more I appreciate our own resort, which I will dedicate another post to shortly.