WHEN you are staying on a tropical island with only about a dozen people on it, walking in on one of them naked in the shower is not a good idea. You are sure to have to face them again sooner or later.
When the person you have seen in all their glory is the owner of the resort, your embarrassment is magnified tenfold.??My friend Sonya and I had arrived the day before and the shower in our thatched hut seemed to have only two temperatures – too hot and too cold. I knew the British family who had been staying in the fale (house) next to ours had left that day and on the way to dinner I decided to take a peek inside, partly because I thought I could use that shower next time and partly because I was curious to see if it was bigger than ours.??That’s when I suddenly caught sight of a handsome, rotund, tanned, bearded man and heard a surprised and slightly alarmed “hey!”.
“Sorry!” I cried as I hastily closed the door and returned to my giggling friend on the path from which I should never have strayed. A few minutes later, Mark arrived at dinner and nothing was mentioned of the incident ever again.
They call it home
Mark, an American who spends the off-season running pirate ship adventures for cruise ship passengers in Mexico, took over Euaiki Eco Resort three years ago.
Despite having lived all over the world, he insists they will bury him here. He will happily take you on a ride on the outrigger canoe he has built, or accompany you on a kayaking trip to the island opposite.
His small staff includes a young couple named Chuck and Erin, who had been saving to have a big wedding but after a year in corporate America decided to pack it in and use the money to travel instead. Now they often find themselves going to every shop in town during their visits to the “mainland” to find enough eggs to feed all their guests.
But the young Tongan chef Simione makes the most of what ingredients he has, serving sliced coconut chips as aperitifs, an amazing cabanossi and cheese concoction, garlic prawns and scallops with mashed potato and salad and ice-cream with banana for dessert.
Simione, it turns out, is a bit of a jack of all trades. While we are there he decides to chop down a tree and builds a cabana next to the dining hut. After dinner that night he also treats us to a firedancing performance on the beach, lighting a bonfire at the end. This is only his second show for tourists. He appears in a freshly-made palm tree skirt, with Scooby Doo undies underneath. Despite a couple of false starts and dropping the stick a couple of times, it is an entertaining performance.
Euaiki is one of only three resorts on the outlying islands in the Vava’u island group. Arriving there feels like landing in paradise. Mark’s canoe bobs in the shallow, turquoise water that laps at a long, white stretch of sand lined by a handful of small thatched huts. Unfortunately, we get stuck in a hut on the windy side of the island, but the view out to two of the most picture-postcard perfect tropical islands I have ever seen is a dream.
Within minutes of arriving we get the classic “you should have been here yesterday” spiel when Mark tells us that the day before whales had swum by directly out the front.
If you are feeling up to it, you can circumnavigate the island in about an hour, exploring wind-formed caverns along the way. Or you can simply lie back in a hammock and watch the dog catch crabs in the sand.
As soon as you step in the water you are on an incredible reef, with an abundance of angel fish, the biggest blue starfish I have ever seen and coral all the colours of the rainbow.
The resort is a true eco resort. The lighting is solar powered so if it has been a cloudy day you can expect to eat your dinner in the half dark, and the water comes from rain tanks. After a few days of clean living, my hair and skin are silky smooth and I want the feeling to last forever. The bamboo doors on the huts have only a latch for a lock, but there is nobody much around to steal anything any way.
The island next door
We don’t think it can get any better. Then we hop in a boat and move on to The Blue Lagoon Resort on a nearby island. As well as the beautiful lagoon, its biggest selling point is its array of eclectic bungalows, each with its own distinct flavour.
Nature has taken priority here. One has a palm tree growing through its roof, while another has a large rock serving as a coffee table and a bathroom built around a natural rock waterfall.
We are lucky enough to score one of the larger bungalows on the beach overlooking the lagoon, with a splitlevel wooden floor and two double beds draped with mosquito nets.
The bathroom is half outdoors, with a stone-paved shower, and there are no glass windows, just air. Best of all, the showers have water pressure and once you work out what the Chinese writing means, you can regulate the temperature.
My bed has panoramic views of the sheltered lagoon. When I arrive, I pull the lace curtains back and lie down to take it all in. All I can hear is the sound of palm trees blowing in the breeze, water lapping at the shore and parrots tweeting in the trees behind us.
An unusual owner
The resort is run by a bearded German man named Friedl, who wears oval glasses at the end of his nose and can only be described as eccentric.
We have been warned that Friedl has a reputation for being prickly, with a sense of humour that sensitive types (such as myself) may find offensive and I feel nervous before meeting him. But as soon as he learns we are Australian and therefore, naturally, have “an understanding of the outdoors” we are set and I take to him immediately.
Over dinner at night, he regales us with tales of hurricanes he has seen on the island, explaining how the skulls and bones of sperm whales that decorate the restaurant were washed up on the beach outside.
There are no set meal times. The restaurant is open all day so you just rock up when you are hungry and order. As well as his skill at repairing hurricane-damaged fales, Friedl is also a qualified chef, and you can barely see the table at his famous breakfasts because the plates of food cover every square centimetre.
Source: The Australian