Fijian Flight of Fancy
I’m sitting on a wooden bench seat next to my travel partner, staring out over several shades of blue, as it glistens under the afternoon sun in the nearby lagoon. Palm trees loaded with coconuts border the white-sand beach. Pristine gardens are filled with the tropic’s best: my favourite frangipani, vibrant hibiscus and expertly manicured hedges which separate bures from the beach.
I guess you could call this the airport lounge, Fiji style. Small does not begin to describe the plane that rolled down the tarmac to greet us. It could probably fit into a car parking space. There are a total of six seats inside and one has my name on it.
“Bula” the friendly pilot and co-pilot welcome us into their vehicle with wings.
“Bula” we reply with a more authentic accent than the first time we spoke the word upon arriving on Malolo Island. There’s not much aisle room in this thing. I certainly don’t see any food and drink trolleys fitting down that. It’s for the best as I probably would have spilt it anyway.
There is a total of three passengers on board for the flight to Nadi. I’m up front with the cockpit in full view. It doesn’t seem to worry the pilots though, they’re much more accustomed to this setup. We are each issued with headsets, they’re not for watching movies though. They serve a more practical purpose of drowning out the noise and rattling equipment. The plane lines up on the runway and the pilot hits the pedal. We’re off.
An aerial view lends a new perspective to the paradise we’ve lived for the past week. There are golf carts transporting visitors down below, people congregating at the restaurant and swimmers splashing about in the pool. Soon they’re all tiny ants and we’re looking down on the lagoon with hues of blue and green that could fill a paint shop twice over. Neighbouring islands jump into view and disappear just as quickly.
The mainland creeps into view just as I’ve started to loosen the grip of my fingernails on the vinyl seats. I clench my body in anticipation of the landing but I needn’t fret, it’s a clear day and we’ve had smooth sailing. Departing the aircraft is the quickest I’ve ever experienced, one of the perks of a six seater plane I guess, no queues. Departing an island holiday on a small plane does seem a bit like the lives of the rich and famous. They might just be onto something.
The Facts: We stayed in Plantation Island Resort, on Malolo Islands in Fiji in 2008 and flew back to Nadi on the mainland via small plane. For more information, click here.