Stereotypical views of a place or community (whether they be positive or negative) can often affect the enjoyment of a trip.
If you’ve heard story after story of how amazing the food is at a certain place, or how friendly the locals were, or how unbeatable the scenery is … it’s highly likely you’ll arrive at said destination with super high expectations.
When this happens there’s always a risk that you’ll be left mildly disappointed when you get one average dish, or one hello without a smile, and you could end up spending too much time comparing what you expected with what you actually get.
Not in Fiji.
If you have stereotypical ideas about Fiji; smiling faces, endless shouts of ‘bula’, ukeleles, unspoilt beaches – they’ll probably all be met.
Our honeymoon journey to the South Pacific was a long one – taking us from Jersey to Nadi via London, Taiwan and Sydney – but without doubt it was worth the effort.
For Sally, the Fox family’s newest Vixen, it was a second visit to this beautiful nation following a solo trip in 2015. Back then, she ticked off a pair of the 330+ islands on offer (Tivua and Robinson Crusoe), so this time we decided to push the boat out, go crazy and set ourselves the challenge of ticking off loads more.
We managed two.
Being honeymooners from the UK with day jobs to return to, we didn’t have enough time to ‘go-long’ in Fiji. We had just 8 days before heading to Vanuatu, so (sandwiched between two underwhelming ‘airport’ stopovers at Smugglers Cove near Nadi), we crammed in 6 days of laughter, laziness and luxury at Octopus Beach Resort (Waya Island) and Blue Lagoon Resort in the northern Yasawas (Nacula).
Search for late evening flights out of Nadi when leaving Fiji, to avoid an extra night’s layover on the mainland after returning from the Mamanuca & Yasawa Islands.
Gifted with an incredible beachfront villa at Octopus for the first 3 days, we felt like we’d hit the jackpot from the off. The weather did have a habit of throwing down monsoon rain each afternoon, but we still had enough sunshine to soak up on our sun loungers and made the most of the paddleboarding, snorkelling and stunning beach-walk opportunities.
In truth, 3 days isn’t enough to enjoy Octopus Resort fully, as some of the activities they host for guests only come round once or twice a week at most. And you need to give yourself enough time to taste the pretty incredible Fijian menu on offer for lunch and dinner.
One word … seafood. Another word … yum.
As volleyball players we were excited for the beach volleyball tournament scheduled against the staff on our birthday (yes, we have the same birthday), but that was rained off. As was the outdoor cinema night. And plans for dinner on the beach.
The weather didn’t dampen the mood in the slightest, though, and watching the storms fly by from the comfort of our terrace was an experience in itself.
Despite us both neglecting religious ‘duties’ for as long as we can remember, we also hiked over to the nearest village for a Fijian church service. We understood next to none of it and sat in sweltering conditions for 90 minutes, but the whole morning was a cultural eye-opener and the special ‘blessing’ we were given gained extra meaning a week later when we hit trouble in Vanuatu.
We paid up for another village visit on Nacula Island after relocating to Blue Lagoon on the Awesome Adventures shuttle (2 hours north of Octopus by boat, 4.5 hours from Nadi)…
This one was a thinker.
It was all a bit too commercial and while the school visit and sing-a-long was great it seemed like too much of a ‘tourist routine’ for the kids. And the village market wasn’t all it promised to be … we later heard that a lot of the (expensive) ‘Fijian’ souvenirs are actually brought in from Indonesia and modified.
Anyway. Did I mention the food?
That special beach dinner that was cancelled at Octopus was re-booked for Blue Lagoon, and what a meal. It was amazing, but we could have been there another 24 hours and still not finished it.
The biggest seafood platter we’ve ever seen was led by a child-sized lobster and supported by moules, gambas, scallops, the whole southern Pacific…
Needless to say we weren’t moving much afterwards. Until dessert arrived.
Blue Lagoon also offered nightly Kava ceremonies for guests to try the Fijian natives’ substitute for alcohol and learn a bit of culture.
It looked like muddy tea, tasted similar and turns out to be a natural narcotic. Two tingly tongues and a few chuckles later and we were done.
Crammed into our final morning in the Yasawas was a great trip to Sawa-i-Lau Caves on the northern most island (about 30 mins by boat), and a very forgettable ‘honeymoon massage’.
The less said about the massage the better (akin to physical abuse), but the cave trip was one of our Fijian highlights … taking us through a small hole in the cliffs and into a hidden pool which rises and falls with the tide.
A quick dunk and swim through an underwater entrance takes you into a secondary cave with no natural light, which I pointlessly decided to film with the GoPro before we held our breath for the escape towards daylight.
Don’t bother trying to film inside the second cave…
Thanks for reading … JF
Dream. Travel. Smile