This article is a personal narrative from the author of the post.
It was love at first sight when the Fijian bounty islands and I encountered for the first time. And I am not good at long distance relationships, so one thing is certain - I'm going back one day.
After 14 days of roadtripping in New Zealand, it was time for a change of scenery during my trip around the world. I needed some beach time. And not as in 'oh this is a pretty beach'. No. I needed something that could stun me. Sweep me off my feet so to speak. So I went to Fiji.
Neither me or my travel companion knew what to expect when we landed in the Nadi International Airport on the main Fijian island Viti Levu. Without claiming that we are particulary well-informed, we knew that Fijian people had a reputation of being a happy people. But we certainly didn't expect this fantastic foursome to celebrate the arriving tourists with Fijian jingles and big smiles.
It was hard not to put on a smile, and based on the looks of the clapping audience, I think everyone agreed that this was quite a nice way to begin the adventures in Fiji.
After a quick shuttle ride to Nadi and a very effective check-in at our hostel, we went out for a casual stroll to explore the area. The subject quickly fell on local beer and before we knew of it, we were sitting in a small cozy bar. Not just every bar though. This was Ed's Bar! Covered in red and blue lights, the bar dragged us in, and we didn't leave until the next morning. This was in fact the only bar we visited in Nadi during our stay. Shame on us!
The sunset in Nadi that we only sporadically saw as we were sitting in a bar all night!
We headed home around 4am, as we had to catch a boat at 8.30am from the nearby Port Denarau. Maybe not the wisest move to stay in a bar until 4am, but hey, we had a good time, and that's what it's all about.
I don't know how it happened, but I somehow managed to set my alarm clock the previous night. I am not saying it was easy to get up at 7 in the morning, but we got up. We packed our backpacks and took the 20 minute taxi ride to Port Denarau. Our gateway to all the beautful islands that we had been craving for a while now. It was time for island hopping in Fiji!
Our boat ride when island hopping in Fiji!
We had booked ourselves a Bula Pass, which is a pre-paid card providing us with all the boat transfers for the next five days. There are 20 islands in the Yasawa chain 13 of which offers accommodation. And let me be honest. Accommodation is one thing that you would rather have organized sooner than later. It's quite simple actually. If you have no pre-booked accommodation on the island - you won't get off the boat.
Luckily, we had arranged our accomodation beforehand and got off at Beachcomber Island, which is actually a part of the Mamanuca Islands. Our first stop in these absolutely fantastic Fijian islands. If you still believe magic is somekind of a supernatural force, then you haven't been to Fiji.
Beachcomber Island as we approach by boat
We were, again, welcomed warmly with music and a loud "BULA!" upon arrival at the island. Apparantly that's how it's done in Fiji. And it is really impossible not to feel like the most important person on the planet once you set foot on a new island.
It was love at first sight when we got off at Beachcomber Island. Pure white beaches, nice crystal clear water and nothing but blue sky. Photoshop had nothing on this island. Beachcomber is also recognized as the party island, and in short: The island delivers. The 2 nights we stayed both included fun activities during the day and in the evenings - The legendary and intense crab race for instance. A race where I lost 3 drinks to my friend. Damn you, crab number 7!
The crab race is both intense and prestigous - and the crabs know it!
After Beachcomber Island we headed towards the slightly bigger and more hilly Kuata Island. An island where we would soon discover some Fijian traditions. After dropping off our bags at the only resort, we decided to explore the island by foot. A short but steep walk to the top of the island gave us an incredible view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the nearby islands.
Fiji is beautiful from above
Back at the beach again we met the two rastafari-look-a-like fellas below, who we at first thought gathered sea weed for entertainment purporses. Turns out that Fiji has quite an extensive seaweed industry, which is exported to especially Asian countries. Without being an expert in marine biology, it is said that Fiji's red seaweed is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants which apparantly can contribute in the fight against HIV and other horrible diseases. Way to go, Fiji!
We also had an excursion planned for that day, and after a short boat ride we arrived at Waya Island with the purpose of visiting a small village. After short hike on what has never been a real path, we arrived at Yalobi Village. The local villagers had set up a Kava ceremony for us which is probably one of the most well known Fijian traditions. We followed the obligatory rituals before and after we drank what best can be described as mud water.
Here's how the local delicacy looks like...
Does it taste any good, you might ask? Nope, I'd prefer a cold beer 10 out of 10 times, but you always need to give the local traditions a try.
Our last two days with the Bula Pass took us to the Yasawa Island - the main island furthest away in the chain. We had booked two nights at a resort and had decided that we wanted to try to find the most remote spot we could. First of all, the Yasawa Island has fewer tourists than the islands closer to Viti Levu, and the chances of finding yourself a remote spot is therefore pretty good.
Go kayaking in the crystal clear water surrounding the Fijian islands!
We went kayaking and sailed along the coast just to find several deserted beaches - so if you're in for a private moment in paradisal surroundings, these northern Fijian islands should be top of your list. It was absolutely surreal to sit on a small deserted beach with sand as white as snow and with the most crystal clear water you could imagine. If I was more of a handyman and self provider, I would have said 'screw it' and stayed there forever. This was the reason we included Fiji in our big round the world trip! And we were not dissapointed.
Find your very own private spot!
Back at the resort we opted in for a snorkeling trip only to find ourselves among 1,5 meter long reef sharks shortly after leaving the boat. Though some of the sharks were a little too curious we never felt unsafe. To be honest, I never thought I would find myself situated in the Pacific Ocean surround by three reef sharks and not feel the slightest intimidated. That was a really cool expericence.
Hi there buddy - A reef shark in Fiji
Five incredible days had come to an end and before we knew of it, we were back on Viti Levu for short while before embarking the plane that took us all the way back to Australia and the begining of our trip up the east coast.
Fiji, I am going to miss the unreal spots You showed me and I will certainly be back.