Fiji – A Trip to the Exotic Islands in the Pacific Ocean

In the Southern Pacific Ocean, thousands of kilometres away from any continent, there is an archipelago of hundreds of small and magical islands called Fiji. Many islands in Fiji look like an advertising postcard for the most exotic vacation we can imagine. The local Fiji residents are friendly .
I have arrived in Fiji (with my young son and my husband) after a three-hour flight from Brisbane which is in Eastern Australia. When you get closer, you can see from the plane, the islands have a wide band of coral reefs that surrounds the island in the shades of turquoise water, white waves, golden beaches and a green land.

 

Fiji Islands:

fiji island


Before landing you can hear, in the speaker, the greeting, "Welcome to Paradise" and immediately after, the flight attendant moved between the rows of passengers and sprayed, over our heads, some kind of disinfectant in the open cabins of the carry-on luggage, so we will not bring bacteria, God forbid, into paradise!
While in Fiji there are hundreds of islands spreads over a large area of about 200 thousand square kilometers but their total land area is about 18 thousand square kilometers and most of the population (approximately 800,000 people) is centred on the four largest islands which are the closest to each other, within about tens kilometers.
Out of these four islands, the two largest and most important are Viti Levu, where the capital Suva is located, and the town of Nadi, where the International airport is located (you can also find an impressive and colorful Indian temple), and the town of Lautoka. The second island is Vanua Levu where you will find the towns of Labasa and Savusavu.
The third largest island closer to the Viti Levu island is called Taveuni and the fourth one is Kadavu.
The fact that the Fiji Islands are many and remote from the rest of the world is the main reason that modernization has not yet managed to change the natural and virgin appearance of many of the islands. Therefore, you can find beautiful rare areas with magical beaches, coral reefs that are the most beautiful in the world, a paradise for divers, vegetation and unique animals and even better, that they do not have there – they do not have poisonous snakes and spiders (contrary to the nearest mainland – Australia).
The selection of islands is very large and the distance between them forces us, the travellers, to choose, of course, to visit only a few of them, the rest of the islands we will leave of course until the next trip…
Some of the travelers arrive at one of the main islands and stay only there, some in luxurious hotels and some in simpler hotels and hostels. From this main island, you can go on a day sailing trip to part of the smaller and exotic islands. While the trip includes getting off on the beach, swimming, sailing in different boats, tanning, food, drinks
Another segment of travelers prefers from the start to be dropped off on one of the small and remote islands during most of their stay in Fiji.
Another possibility is to stay for a few days on one of the large islands and later take a sailing tour for a few days between the islands.
The transportation between the islands is sometimes with light planes and sometimes by cruising with speed boats. The cruises can take many hours and the sea can be very wavy so those who are susceptible to sea sickness should take that into consideration.
On our trip to Fiji, we chose to stay at a charming and luxurious resort on the large island of Viti Levu, in a place called Denaru Island near Nandy.

 

A swimming pool at the Denarau Resort

a swimming pool at the Denarau Resort

 
During part of our stay there we went out sailing for two days to the chains of islands of Mamanuca and Yasawa.
The resort in Denarau is like a reserve of several 5-star high quality hotels with well accessorised, beds and dreamy and luxurious bathrooms, large and special swimming pools, rich and well kept vegetation, beaches, water sports, fine restaurants, large and unique lobby etc. Among the hotels and the nearby harbour which is the center of entertainment at night and during the day serves as a starting point for cruises to the nearby islands, there is a free shuttle service around the clock. 

Amongst the hotels on Denarau Island you can find:
 The Westin resort & Spa
♦  Sheraton Fiji Resort
♦  Sheraton Villas
♦  Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa
♦  Radisson Blu Resort.
♦  HiHilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa

 

a swimming pool at the Denarau Resort

All the hotels are located on the beach and are close to each other. You can walk along the beach during the day or evening (along the romantic torchlights and the typical Polynesian music) and go visit all these hotels which have their own unique and luxurious designs, combined with nature and the typical Fijian style of buildings and wonderful swimming pools. Next to the hotels there is a large and well maintained golf course.

The beach at the Denarau Resort

denarau resorts beach

In the hotel lobby you can book a tour to one on the islands in the chain of the Mamanuca chains close to Nandi or to one of the more remote islands in the chain of the Yasawa islands which are more attractive. We booked two sailing tours to each of the chain of islands, but the first tour we did around the big island Viti Levu using a private taxi.

A trip on Viti Levu island

For the trip on Viti Levu Island we went with a taxi driver who drove us for several hours across the island between different destinations we had decided to visit. During the tour we talked a lot with the driver and to the different local people from whom we learned about their lifestyle, standard of living, financial difficulties, and the relationship between the residents who are half Fijians originally and half Indian originally who were brought to the islands by the British during the period they had the British empire. The Indian claim that they are discriminated against in education (scholarship etc.) and in the ability to purchase land. It seems that the original Fijians are afraid that the Indians will reproduce and take over the country. The Indian are more diligent and that is the reason why the British brought them to Fiji. They are the ones who did the hard work of growing the sugar canes in the fields which is the main agriculture product of the island. The Fijians claim that they retain more morality. They do not drink or smoke, and they have separate churches from the Indians. Nevertheless, they all say they live in peace with one another. It is important for the Fijians to present a front to the tourists, an idyllic picture of peace and brotherhood.
We started the trip on the island with a tour amongst the villages in a hilly area. The roads are really bad, filled with holes, and half of them are unpaved. The old taxi fidgeted on the rutted roads.
Most villages are quite poor without any paved roads, the houses are simple and basic. From there we continued through a dirt road to the local orchid gardens in the forest over the mountainside. Inside the tangled forest are built orchid nurseries from where they transfer the orchids to the gardens. In the gardens, there are wooden paved trails with sitting areas in between the tall trees, and alongside the trails there are orchids scattered, nicely.


The next stop on our tour was a traditional Fijian village where their president used to live in. The name of the village is Viseisei. At the entrance to the village you pass along souvenir stands, one of the local woman accompanies the group of a on a guided tour. The fee for the guide is not defined (IT IS ON A DONATION BASIS) whatever you decided will be welcomed. The guide explains about the buildings, the churches and the local traditions. Next to a beautiful church we heard a choir rehearsing. When we are about to part from the guide, she asked us where are we from and was very excited to hear we are from Israel. She called her nephew with excitement and told him we were from Israel. He was also excited and said that they have collected donations to help Jews from Russia immigrate to Israel. They even sang for us in Hebrew “Hava Nagila”. Heartwarming and exciting!


fiji kids

From there we continued to the hotel called “Mediterranean Villas” to a beautiful lookout point called “Veda Point”. Later we went down to a private yacht dock called: “Veda Marina” located close to the fuel tank farm.
The last stop on this tour was a hotel called The First Landing established where the initial Fijians came to in 1500 BC. It is a nice hotel covering a large area close to the sea. When the tide is in it is a beach for everything. At the low tide it is impossible to get into the water because it retreats very far and the only thing left is walking on a sandy soil covered with crabs. By the way, the beaches on the large island are less exciting then the beaches on the distant islands. The sand on the beach is dark and sometimes contains rocks compared to a nice white sand with very clean and clear water on the distant islands.
From the balcony of the restaurant we admire the beautiful scenery which included many islands from the Manauka islands. That is how we saw Danarau island where we stayed.
On another day we drove to Lautoka, a commercial town and non-touristic town which makes its living mainly from the sugar factory in it. We wanted to see the life in a large and authentic town. We walked in the market, where the vegetables and fruits are quite weird and nothing special, but the sellers were nice and welcoming, we entered a local, large supermarket, where the prices are expensive compared to the “neighboring” Australia or New Zealand and the selection is much more limited, We walked in the streets filled with people.


A market in the town of Lautoka in Fiji

A market in the town of Lautoka in Fiji


A trip to the Mamnuka Islands

For the first trip outside the large island, we left from the Danarau Harbour, in a fast catamaran which brought us, within half an hour, to one of the Mamnuka islands which was the closest to Nandy, called the South Sea Island. The island, is really small, less than 100 meters in diameter.

Mamnuka Island in Fiji

Mamnuka Island in Fiji

As soon as we landed on the island, they set a table on the beach and served us lunch, grilled meat, potato salad, rice, fruits and as all we can have drink including beer, all inclusive.
On the island there are kayaks with a clear bottom, snorkeling equipment, lounge chairs, sailboats and even a red submarine around the island. The sand was rough and white with many fragments of corals and shells. It is recommended to walk on the beach and water in sandals. We swam in pleasant and clear waters for about an hour and then we took three kayaks with a clear bottom and admire the corals and fish. At the end, before going back on the boat, the staff sang for us a few local songs.
Another trip from the Mamnuka islands was to the Plantation Island resort. There is a large resort there with a beach, swimming pools, restaurants and various water activities and also pool tables. The trip includes a meal and the use of the hotel facilities and the beach.

A trip to Waya Island in the chain of the Yasawa Islands

Also, this cruise we started in Danarau harbour in a large and fast ship that made its way to the island within two hours and fifteen minutes after stopping on the way in a number of islands: Waya Lailai, Vomo, Bounty, Beachcomber, and South Sea, to take and drop off other travelers.
We went to the beach using a small boat taking a dozen passengers to the beach. The sea was a bit wavy but we arrived safely to the beach, where we were received by a group of locals and other visitors with singing, clapping and calls of Bulla! which is the local greeting. during the day trip we were only 5 since the others got off on the large Waya Island and we continued to the small island of Waya Laulai where there is the A locals small village and a school. Our trip included a tour in the village and the school. We stopped at the school while the students were having a lesson and we continued on our way into the village.

Fiji school kids on the Lailai Island

Fiji school kids on the Lailai Island

We arrived at a hut of the village's elderly and gave (the accompanying guide) him a gift a Kwai from which you prepare a local liquor. This is an official welcoming ceremony in the Fijian villages.
Then we went on a tour in the village and we entered also into a hall where local handcrafts were sold. Later we entered a kindergarden with only 5 children and these sweet ones sang for us a few songs in English (which is the official language on the island, but the locals speak Fijian between themselves).

Open Fire Cooking

open fire cooking

On the way back to the ship we passed by the school again and the students this time were out in the school yard on a recess, we spoke with them a little and took photos together. They were very friendly. The boys are wearing skirts and the girls are wearing blue dresses.
Then we got on the boat that took us to the large island. On this island there is a restaurant, guest rooms (very basic, like a hostel), trees and hammocks. A powered generator works there sometimes to provide electricity.
The beaches on this island are sandy and pleasant without too many corals like on the islands in the chain of Mamunka where we were in the two previous trips. The waters are clear and there are small waves. It is a place to lounge on a hammock, splash in the clear water and clear the head.

Fiji Waya Island beach

fiji waya island beach

We finished the day in one of the restaurants at the Danarau harbour with a wide variety of restaurants, bars and there are also free performances in the square across from the restaurants, by local dancers and jugglers. Fiji (like Hawaii) is the place to watch Polynesian dances combined with many fire stunts.
There is no doubt that this trip to Fiji included only a “taste” of what it offers a tourist. It is a diversified, fascinating, surprising trip that offers in addition to a luxurious and exotic vacation, also a glimpse of the modest lifestyle but filled with life of the small and friendly nation at the end of the world.

Fiji – Practical Information

The official name of the country is: the Republic of the Fiji Islands

The residents

There are about 880,000 residents. The largest town is the capital, Suva, in which reside about 130,000 residents. About half of the populations is of Polynesian decent and half are Indian.

Language

English is the official language of the country but the locals speak also the local languages: Fabianite (native language of the people from Polynesian descent) and Hindustani (the native language of the people of Indian descent).

Weather

The weather in Fiji is tropical: it is hot and humid most of the year, due to the proximity of the country to the equator. On the island there are two main seasons: the dry season between June and September, where the average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius, and the wet season between November and April where the average temperature is 31 degrees Celsius and there is much more rain. Most of the rain is in the east of the country while on the west side, it is sunnier.
The site for the Fiji Meteorological Authority is: www.met.gov.fj

Currency

Fiji dollar .

Flights

Many people combine a visit to Fiji with a trip to Australia and New Zealand. From Brisbane and Sydney there are four-hour flights to Fiji. From Oakland, there is a three-hour flight. There are also direct flights from western United States. From Hong Kong - Over ten hours flight to Fiji.
The national airline is called: Fiji Airways.
There are several companies that specialize in short flights in sea planes between the islands such as: Pacific Island Air

Transportation

It is not recommended to rent a car in Fiji. The roads are not good, driving is on the left hand side (like in England and Australia), there is a convenient and organised public transportation and taxis, and the main transportation between the islands is sailing in fast boats and catamarans or flying on light planes.

Clock

Fiji time is GMT +12.

Communication

International access code is: 679
It is recommended to purchase a local SIM by the Vodaphone Fiji company that enables cheap local calls and also international calls at reasonable prices. www.vodafone.com.fj

In all the touristic areas in Fiji you can find an internet-café. Many of the hotels offer free Wi-Fi or for a fee.

Electricity

240 V

Additional information

The tourist office of Fiji island in the Nadi airport:
Address: Suite 107, Colonial Plaza, Namaka, Nadi
Tel: 679-6722433
The official tourist website:
http://www.fijime.com


Another popular websites:
http://www.fiji-island.comhttp://www.tourismfiji.com  |  http://www.fijieguide.com