How did you travel there? –
To get to Fiji (Nadi Airport – located on Viti Levu) I flew from Auckland – I was doing my New Zealand Work & Holiday Visa at the time. The flight took about 4 hours, with Fiji Airlines. One of the best incoming landing views I have ever witnessed.
From Fiji’s main island we left Suva (the capital) and travelled via cargo ship. The journey took 25 hours, with a few stops at smaller islands along the way. No Wi-Fi, no charging points either, or a very limited café option for any food. I spent the morning beforehand wandering the local Suva markets topping up on water and fruit.
How did you fill your days? –
Fiji is an archipelago so this blog could feature multiple islands! I will keep it to my ‘Top Five’:
Nadi @ Bamboo Traveller: Bamboo is THE GO-TO hostel upon arrival for almost any and every backpacker. With a private beach, daily activities and with a local bus approx… FJ$5 for a weekly ticket into Nadi. Nadi itself is worth the visit though. The street food (a mix of Fijian and Indian due to the cross-cultural history the two countries have), anything Rugby related and the Hindu Temple.
Fiji Beach House Hostel – a small hostel and guest house which is located on its own private beach on-route from Nadi to Suva. A coach from Nadi to Suva can cost as little as FJ$7. The hostel offered such things as 6am yoga, private canoe, and SUP for use at any time. The hostel was located just off the main road, a short walk down a gravel road to the beach.
South Sea Island – This is typically a day-trip destination, within the Mamanuca Islands. You can stay overnight but it is a 5* resort. We were met with a traditional Fijian welcome – the Fijian Warrior Dance and Haka – before being served a traditional Fijian BBQ. We spent the remainder of the day on the beach and canoeing around the island (so small it took us 30 minutes!).
Nacula Island (Yasawa Island Group) – The island is just a volcano, where people live. This is where we had our most memorable, and ‘culturally meaningful’ experience. The Fijian Islands can be very traditional – small villages, village Elders and lots of rules you must respect. If you enter a village, you are expected to meet with the village ‘Chief’ or ask permission to walk through their village. We stayed over a weekend, and were invited to church on the Sunday, by the Chief Elder. We were given a tour of the traditional village and were educated on why villages are built in a particular way. To get here, I took a speedboat for EIGHT HOURS from Viti Levu.
Tavuni (Taveuni Palms Resort) is a wonderful island to explore and possibly the first time I really thought how far away from home I was. Not only was I no longer on the main Fiji island, but over 24 hours away! – On Taveuni chances are you will find a local willing to drive you around, or to any point. Most will even act as a tour guide for a small fee (we paid his fuel for the day and bought him a picnic). We headed out to the site of the ‘International Date Line’, which was a cool spot.
The hostel itself was utterly divine. Spread out over a plantation, we did have to dodge falling coconuts constantly – but each ‘dorm’ was separated by wooden walkways and rope bridges.
Any hidden gems, local delicacies you came across?
A coffee house on Nacula Island – which was in fact an actual tree house, built up several palm trees. If we wanted a FRESH coconut, no problem. The owner sent her teenage son up the tree to pick them for us. She also baked fresh cakes for us every day – chocolate coconut… coffee coconut… there is a theme.
Local delicacies? The best thing about staying in 1 & 2 Coconut (the traveller routes and affectionately rated in 1-5 ‘Coconuts’ instead of stars) rated resorts meant rustic cooking – an underground oven baked fish and ‘fire bread’. Honestly the best fish I have eaten…ever!
What makes this a great destination for groups?
Very much off the beaten track, but the relaxed nature and the local’s reliance on tourism means that anything goes. This works well for smaller groups, but the food, the culture and whole experience in general is something I will shout about forever.
- Karen WaltersBack