Fiji

It would be hard for a traveller to not enjoy Fiji. Over 300 islands, clear tropical water bursting with life, remote palm fringed beaches, and a vibrant culture that is positive, friendly and welcoming. This belies it’s previous decades long history of ethnic conflict, military coups and expulsion from international bodies. Indeed, now, according to some international surveys Fiji is rated as the country where its population is happiest.

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Beach Rugby

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We landed in Nadi, on the main Island of Viti Levu and took a two hour bus ride to accommodation we had booked in Pacific Harbour, arriving at night. In Fiji we found that backpacker dorms tend to be located within holiday resorts, meaning private rooms proved relatively expensive, especially as we had arrived in the Australia/New Zealand school holidays.

With blue skies the next morning we explored our surrounds and spent quality time in hammocks, planning our journey in Fiji.

Locally, we booked some diving with Aqua-Trek Beqa Dive Centre (old, badly maintained gear), and on my birthday had two dives with beautiful soft coral and clear water teeming with life. We came across around a dozen tawny nurse sharks asleep on the sand, reef sharks and a big bull shark, moving fast, clearly on the hunt.

The area is renowned for shark feeding displays, and even though we had avoided this, it was clear that the practice impacted on how sharks and other underwater life behaved. A remora (a fish that hangs around sharks hoping to grab some food) took a painful bite out of Anne’s little finger, something we have never encountered before.

Heading back to Nadi, we checked in to Bamboo Travellers on Wailoaloa Beach, an old-school backpacking haunt, where you can relax in the bar on the beach, swim, eat good food, drink cold beer, watch sunsets and talk into the night with fellow travellers. My kind of place.

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Bamboo Travellers also had an efficient travel desk that meant we were able to sort out all our Fijian travel and accommodation arrangements with minimum fuss, something that we had found near impossible till then. Our next stop was the southern Island of Kadavu.

Kadavu

Our fifty minute flight south to Kadavu was on an eighteen seater De Havilland Twin Otter, with passengers distributed according to their weight.

 

 

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The Great Astrolobe Reef Kadavu.
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With only one landing per day (weather depending) it’s not the busiest airport.

We were met at the airfield and taken through Vunisea, with its government buildings, post office and local school.

 

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Most students stay at the school during the week. With no roads and a population of under 10,000 a daily journey is impossible
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There is still evidence of the damage caused by Cyclone Keni in April this year

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The boat trip to Matava resort took around ninety minutes in some heavy swell (despite the protection of the Astrolobe Reef), and poor weather characterised our time in Kadavu. Strong Trade Winds from the south-east can develop at any time between May and October in Fiji, and this clearly affected activities such as snorkeling and kayaking. We were able to enjoy some good diving on the reef however, with colourful soft coral, unique macro life and massive cabbage and brain coral sitting on brilliant white sand. On our first dive Anne spotted a leopard shark asleep on the sand, who then woke and circled us a few times.

The company of other guests was enjoyable, the staff lovely and the view from our bure was transformed by different light on the bay. But those trade winds kept on blowing.

 

 

Among the staff at Matava were two O’Connors … very distant relatives

The Yasawas

On the day before our departure from Kadavu the plane tried to land twice, but the strong winds meant it had to return to Nadi, so we were unsure whether we would be able to leave the island. All turned out well on the day however and we were soon back in Nadi, rushing around withdrawing cash from ATMs before our trip north to the Yasawas.

The Yasawas are an archipelago of around twenty volcanic islands, scattered along the north east of Fiji. At one time they were remote and visited by only the most determined backpackers but these days island hopping is popular with travellers, budget-backpackers and those seeking luxury resorts.

We’d selected two islands and travelled first up to one of the northernmost islands, Nacula, aboard the Tavewa Seabus.

One feature of touring the Yasawas is that you frequently bump in to people you’ve met on the boats on other islands and because you share meals, activities and travelling tales, a shifting community soon develops. Add to this the friendly and enthusiastic engagement of local Fijians and you get a relaxed and entertaining journey. While we enjoyed snorkelling, visiting caves and chilling in hammocks, for me the best part of our time in Nabua Lodge was the visit to a local village where we got a real sense of how the community live, work and play in an isolated environment.

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Village life

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Origami continues to make friends

 

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Kava session on Saturday morning following a wedding in the village the previous day

Our second stop in the Yasawas was at Korovou Eco-Tour resort in Naviti. Lovely beaches, blue skies and sunsets – classic Fiji.

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Special mention should go to Abu in Korovou, who involved everyone with demonstrations on coconuts and herbal medicine, quizzes, games, singing and dancing.

 

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Great to see young people taking travelling seriously! This London couple had been on the road for a year and had a real sense of adventure

 

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Back to Nadi on the Yasawa Flyer

It felt appropriate for us to spend our final night in Fiji at the Bamboo Travellers, bumping in to people at the bar who we’d met along the way.

Then, with that abrupt transition that modern travel brings, we’re suddenly back in Auckland, staying once more with good friends who we’d said our ‘final’ goodbyes to last April.

We’ve now made our final plans and booked our flights. We’re off to Argentina on Sunday and then plan to travel overland to Brazil and along the North East Coast. We have a flight booked out of Brazil and will be home in London by the beginning of October. There is still plenty of travelling to do and there are adventures yet to come, but we are slowly heading back. Inevitably, over the next few months I suspect we’ll both be posing the question, ‘What next?’

And finally for this post, a few pictures from Muriwai, just an hour from Auckland. We saw this colony of gannets on a beautiful winters day. They are themselves great travellers, making the 4,000km journey back and forth to Australia.

The Gannets of Muriwai

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With a two metre wingspan they plunge into the sea for fish, hitting speeds of 150 kph

 

 

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Felt like we were intruding a bit here

So, South America on Sunday – we arrive four hours before we leave, thanks to the international date line.

Click ‘follow’ to see how we get on…

 

 

13 thoughts on “Fiji

  1. Lovely photos, as ever, and more amazing travels. All seems a very long way from the M25! Hannah finished A-levels and has absconded to California with a friend before we all (Chloe+1, Joe+1, Zebi) get together for a week in the Lake District. Fabulous heatwave summer here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rod, as always the blog is an imperfect way of recording a flavour of our journey. We’ve been hearing about the summer of madness in the UK. Enjoy those long summer evenings in the Late District ….. and maybe we’ll catch you this winter (Brrrrr ❄)

      Like

  2. I can’t quite believe you’ve been away so long as this blog has kept you and your adventures close to home. Enjoy the few months left and yes, I think we are all asking what next? Be great to see you again and have a beer or two, or three… Your pictures are fabulous and I enjoy sharing them with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Freja. I looked back at the Fiji post because of your comment and saw I had deleted the whole post (apart from one picture) by mistake. It’s now restored, so take a look at the whole post, it might bring back memories of your trip😊.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there. Yes, if you’re going to Fiji, then I’d say the Yasawas are definitely worth it.
      Things you might want to think about are:
      Weather. While Fiji has warm, sunny weather for most of the year you need to think about the trade winds. They can be strong and last for a couple of weeks. It has a much bigger impact on Kadavu (see the blog) but it’s worth researching.
      Aus/NZ school holidays.
      Prices rise and accommodation can be tricky to book.
      Budget
      There are some pretty expensive, upscale accommodation options in the Yasawas. Research the sort of place you want to stay. Pretty much everywhere includes meals in the price, but comfort quality and vibe all vary.
      Transport.
      We took the red boat (slower/cheaper used by locals) up and the Flyer back. Both were good.
      Would recommend staying at Bamboo Traveller (link in the blog) when in Nadi. It’s a traditional hostel with a good bar on the beach. A lot of the backpacker places in Fiji are hostel huts located in family resorts, which is a bit strange. They also have a travel service where you can book your trip in the Yasawas – calling, emailing using the websites can all be tricky on the various islands, so we found this very helpful.
      Happy travels 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course. We started the blog simply to reflect our journey and share with family and friends. Two years later, with tens of thousands of views, we’ve realised that bits of information and links make a difference. Our earlier blogs were pretty poor that way.
        It’s a big community, we’ll be following you from now on😊🌴

        Liked by 1 person

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