A Banana Boating Nightmare in Fiji

A Banana Boating Nightmare in Fiji

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Beachcomber Island in Fiji, was where the incident occurred.

It was a beautiful day, exactly the kind of day one would want, and expect, on an island such as Fiji. My cousin: Michelle, friends: Caroline and Linda, and I were headed to a backpacker’s paradise – Beachcomber Island. It was the perfect island, far away from everyone and everything, and we had the entire day to spend there, soaking up the sun with ice cold drinks in our hands.

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We spent the morning laying out in the sun, and then resting in the shade at the barefoot bar. If this wasn’t paradise, I had no idea what was.

View from the bar.

View from the bar.

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We got a few drinks into our system and relaxed on the beach enjoying our view, until one of us decided that we wanted some adventure in our day. Michelle went to ask about parasailing, but since we would have to head to a different island for that experience, and she signed us up for banana boating instead.

We were all excited about the idea and with an ocean that was calm, we figured it would be safe enough, especially since I was the only one of the four of us who knew how to swim.

After lunch, the water got rough, but the men at the banana boat area told us it would be safe and that we wouldn’t fall in. We geared up with our life vests, posed for a photo, and took off into the ocean.

Credit: Michelle

Credit: Michelle

We loaded on the boat one by one, not knowing what to expect. I don’t know how I got placed in the front, but I am assuming it’s because I was the only one who knew how to swim.

My job? To tell everyone which way to lean depending on the waves in front of us, and I must say, I did this job well. As we headed further and further into the middle of the ocean, Beachcomber became nothing more than a speck behind us.

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My confidence grew as we continued to ride the waves, until we turned around to head back to the island. This is where disaster struck. It was here, that we hit a wave the wrong way and tumbled into the ocean. There was nothing my skills as the front rider could do for us.

We hit the water hard, and I came up gasping for air, startled by the fall. Until I began thinking about the boat that was driving away, and what was lurking under the surface. In my head, I saw sharks circling below my legs, ready to attack. Talk about dramatic…

But, my visions didn’t last for long. I was snapped out of my anxious state by Caroline’s call of my name, and I snapped back to reality.

I looked around for the girls, remembering that they couldn’t swim, and made sure we were all accounted for and that everyone was okay. Linda, who never has a negative thought, was happily floating around with a smile on her face, while Michelle kept floating further and further away, however, she seemed to be in a good state.

It wasn’t until I looked over at Caroline, that I began to worry. She was taking in a lot of water and was in a complete panic; I could tell she was terrified and all I could imagine was her slipping through her life vest to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean never to be seen again.

I grabbed her and told her to do the bicycle with her legs. Then, I grabbed Michelle to prevent her from floating away and the four of us joined together in a circle, while we waited for the boat to pick us up.

Then, Linda and I got on board and lifted the other two girls up to safety. It wasn’t easy getting us back up, and we were all afraid of hitting another bump and tumbling back into the ocean. Maybe, this wasn’t the greatest activity for a group of girls without swimming experience.

Luckily, we made it back to the shore without another incident, and aside from being a bit shaken up, we were relieved to see land again.

Credit: Michelle

Credit: Michelle

Of course, the only way to feel better about what had just occurred, was to head straight to the bar to celebrate our survival. Our adrenaline was rushing and our hands were shaking as we downed our margaritas and sex on the beaches. Due to our state, the drinks affected us relatively quickly, and we began laughing uncontrollably about what had just happened in the ocean. Queen’s song Bicycle Race even became Caroline and my song of the trip because of my immediate reaction to tell her to do the bicyle.

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The girls and I decided to stick to land for the rest of our time in Fiji. We’ve also decided that until the girls take a few swimming lessons, the land is where we’ll remain. Even though it wasn’t the best experience, it bonded us together for life, and it is still one of my most vivid memories; proof that sometimes even the worst experiences can have at least some redeeming qualities.

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Comments (20)

  1. Anita Mac

    I am sitting here in the cold throws of what I hope is winter’s last hurrah…thinking….I got to get to Fiji! Sounds like a brilliant time!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Hahaha, yes, Fiji sounds perfect right now.

  2. Tawny of Captain and Clark

    Le sigh, FIJI. I’d ride that banana boat all day if it meant I got to spend some time in Fiji!

    I’m glad everything worked out okay. I think adult beverages were the perfect cure for that experience. 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh yes, I agree. I would do anything to be back in Fiji right now.

  3. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    Wow, that is crazy! I am very glad it ended up just as a great story to tell!!!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, it is a funny story. Not funny at the moment though! I actually use this story as an example of narrative writing with my students. Miss the part about drinking, obviously…

  4. Traveling Ted

    Glad to hear the story had a happy ending. When you look out on a large body of water it is always more treacherous than it looks from the bar. Sometimes it is best to stifle the urge for adventure and keep drinking.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Agreed. Lesson learned. No adventure – only the bar. 😉

  5. Kieu ~ GQ trippin

    OMG I had the same thing happen to me in the south of France. I got tossed so hard in the water I think I blacked out for a second. My ear was ringing for days.. those things are dangerous. I’m glad your survival instincts kicked in. 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      So glad I’m not the only one who sees how horrible they can be! Glad you’re okay!

  6. lola

    you crazy girls. that sounds a wee bit scary. thank goodness all is well and really, thank goodness for celebratory cocktails!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh yes, a little too crazy, in a stupid way of course. Cocktails are a cure-all at least!

  7. Leah Travels

    First off, Fiji! Wow! Secondly, I almost drowned one time and it was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had. Glad you’re ok!

    1. The World Wanderer

      It was awful! Glad you’re okay too. Yes, Fiji was incredible!

  8. the lazy travelers

    oh my god, erin. i’m sure this was really scary but since everyone is safe and sound, i’m allowed to laugh, right?? when we were in mexico, three of us made the hubs take a catamaran lesson and sail us out to sea… mess. never again. and we could all swim!

    i also like that you got the cutest lifevest and everyone else is dressed like the village people’s version of a construction worker. rude swimmer.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, you can definitely laugh – we laughed a lot that night! Oh gosh, that sounds like a bad decision in Mexico too. Oh travel nightmares…

      Oh, yes, of course I got the cute life vest, have to always look my best. 😉

  9. Teaching Through Travels. | The World Wanderer

    […] When I model stories for my students to write, I often use examples from when I was traveling, like banana boating in Fiji, getting lost in Bangkok, or when an entire chicken was brought to me for dinner in Ho Chi Minh […]

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    […] time soaking up the warm sun and unbelievable views with margaritas in our hands, but we also went banana boating. It was a one-time experience considering my cousin and her friends didn’t know how to […]

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    […] song will forever remind me of my time in Fiji. The girls and I decided to go banana boating in the afternoon, not realizing that at that time, the calm ocean of the morning would turn choppy. […]

  12. Aylin

    This summer I broke my arm when I tried the banana boat. I would have drowned if not for the vest I was wearing. My arm was not broken in a normal way and the doctors were really skeptical to if I could ever move my hand and the upper region of my arm again. I went trough 2 full narcoses operations and I was at the hospital for 8 days straight on each operation, and the pain was so unbearable I couldn’t sleep for 3 days straight after the first operation. In total I got 23 needles and different things and I’m not counting the amount of painkillers I took. My arm was in the cast for over 2 and a half month and my hand too. It was close to an open wound and if not for my father and west like I said earlier I would have been dead because I was so deep down that I had to open my eyes and see. It’s normally something I wouldn’t do but I was so deep down, and when I opened my eyes I could see my arm was twisted to a different angle and it hung lose and swung all the time because of the waves.When I got back I leaned from my doctor that I had 8 screws and a plaque in my arm. My vacation was ruined because of that accident.

    My advice for people is that they shouldn’t get on that boat if they aren’t sure they can be safe.
    I myself will try to forget that accident because it’s something I hope no one go trough throughout their entire life.

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