The fourth country on my travel list for the Summer of 2016 was Fiji. It was a place which always made me think of sun, white sandy beaches, blue skies and even bluer seas. It did not disappoint. I flew from Auckland, New Zealand to Nadi International Airport in Fiji on the 2nd of August. As soon as I landed, I was greeted with relaxing ukulele music, beautiful leis and lovely people. After leaving the airport I got driven to my accommodation for the night, a backpackers and hotel right on the beach called the Tropic of Capricorn. That night I ate my dinner by the beach and relaxed in a hammock on the shore, watching tiny crabs run under my feet and into the ocean.
The following morning, I was up early with my suitcase and was picked up by my guide, who would be with the travel group and I for the rest of the trip. After meeting my new companions for my time in Fiji, we were driven to a little boat port. We boarded a shikara-style boat and travelled on a river cruise, then across the lagoon to our first island stopover – Robinson Crusoe Island. It is a small island off the coast of Viti Levu (the main island) and has a 3,500 year history. As we pulled up to shore, we were greeted by singing ukulele players who were standing on the beach ready to help us unload and unpack. After exchanging pleasantries, we were then taken to our accommodation which was a large hut 13-bed dorm. It had a shared bathroom with a bucket shower which I was really looking forward to using. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent relaxing on the white sandy beaches, swimming in the turquoise sea and watching people play volleyball on the shore. As the evening moved into the night, we were given a performance by the island employees which included traditional Fijian dancing, chanting and singing, as well as a fire dance show, all whilst eating the amazing food which was prepared for us.
After Robinson Crusoe Island, we then travelled back to the main island and headed to Uprising Beach Resort where we stayed in a traditional Fijian hut. This resort was absolutely stunning with the friendliest people, a swimming pool to relax near and a bar which served the best cosmopolitan cocktails! Other excursions and activities we partook in around this time included visiting a local village for a traditional kava ceremony with the village chief and bilibili rafting along the river.
A couple of days later we drove along the scenic coast, headed towards the village of Biausevu where we took part in another kava ceremony with the village people and where we also had a chance to buy a variety of different trinkets and souvenirs, made by the local people. After the ceremony we then went on a hike through the near by Coral Coast rain forest, crossing streams and climbing rocks to get to the Sava Nu Mate Laya waterfall.
After spending time swimming and jumping off of waterfalls, we then travelled to Beachcomber Island where we spent our time relaxing on the beach, eating good food and drinking cocktails with other travellers and gap year students who were also staying on the island. Even though it rained for the majority of the time we stayed on Beachcomber, that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves alongside our new friends.
Our next stop was Mantaray Island which I definitely think was my favourite stop. After travelling there by boat (with occasional seasickness on my part), we were greeted by resort employees who gave us a welcome speech and then sent us to our various dorms. The accommodation was incredible and the island offered lots of activities to entertain us including snorkelling, surfing, manta ray spotting (hence the name of the island), boating and for people who preferred indoor activities – karaoke, movie nights and indoor crab racing! I met new friends on this island and we spent time together taking photographs on the beach (it didn’t matter how many shots were needed for the perfect photo), snorkelling through the reefs and eating together at the island restaurant, chatting and laughing. This resort was definitely aimed at families with young children as well as backpackers which was really lovely to see.
After our island hopping had come to an end, we then travelled back to the main island where we had two nights to do what we wanted and stay where we wanted. I spent one night at the backpackers where I started the trip at, and one night in a hotel by the beach.
I will definitely be returning to Fiji, it was everything I imagined it would be. How many of us can say that we’ve stayed in a tropical paradise for two weeks?