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FIJI | Monday, 14 June 2010 | Views [1087] | Comments [1]

Now I can really say that I have been to Paradise and back, in the form of Fiji.

Having finished our time in New Zealand (which ended with a really great little road trip around the Coromandul Peninsula in the North Island, where Debs, Sinead, Suzanne and I hired a car for 3 days and cruised along the coast) we spent our final day there attempting to plan our trip to Fiji, which we knew relatively little about.  Following various advice, the 5 of us bought Bula Combo passes - which are transport and accomodation passes for the Yasawa Islands in Fiji (the bit of Fiji that everyone goes to, although relatively small compared to the whole of Fiji), which means that you can hop on and off this big yellow catamaran that is the only means of transport between the islands.  It also gives you a certain number of nights' accomodation at the "resorts" on the islands - there are between 20 and 30 different "resorts", which are self-contained hostel/hotel type accomodations, with their own restaurants/dining areas, and you can choose between them, with most people choosing a series of resorts and staying at each one for a couple of nights, before moving on, on the yellow boat, to their next island resort.

Our first full day in Fiji was spent on the main land, in Nadi (where our flight from NZ landed), celebrating my birthday.  The girls set up a lovely balloon/banner set-up by the pool of my hostel, and we spent the morning sunbathing by the pool.  In the afternoon, Debs and I headed to Natandula beach (the best beach in Fiji, and supposedly one of the best beaches in the world), where we went horseriding along the beach.  As it was the end of the day, the beach was completely empty, so we had the whole thing to ourselves which was amazing.  That evening, the 5 of us went out for dinner and did some more celebrating

The next day, we started our Bula passes - we took the boat up to the very top of the group of islands, to spend 2 nights at Coral View resort.  The resort is pretty nice, with a big area of grass outside the dorms, directly overlooking the beach.  Most of the resorts put on some form of night-time entertainment, and Coral View was no different, with the staff doing songs after dinner, and then organising a series of 'games', led by a crazy Fijian lady.  It's definitely true what they say about the Fijians being incredibly friendly and welcoming, and she certainly ensured everyone had a good time.  The resorts are also incredibly sociable, as there are set meal times and so everyone eats together, which makes for a really good atmosphere.

After Coral View, we headed to a resort called Korovou, slightly south, which had a pool!  Korovou's other main feature is their very popular 'Bula Boys', who are a group of the young male members of staff, who do 'Bula dances' every night, whereby they dance around topless, smothered in some sort of horrific smelling oil.  Safe to say most of the girls enjoy this bit of Korovou!  The staff there are also particularly friendly, and there was a whole bunch of free (yes!) activities whilst we were there, including fish feeding and coconut cracking (one of the staff members did a very impressive cracking of the coconut using his hands only).  I think that we all preferred Korovou to Coral View, although the dorm room wasn't as nice.  We were lucky with the weather there as well, and spent most of our time developing the tans

After Korovou, we headed further south to a lovely resort called Wailailai, which consists of a series of thatched-roof dorms/bures (private rooms) on staggered hillside overlooking the beach.  The dining area is entirely outdoors, on a gorgeous decking area directly over the beach, from which many a stunning sunset can be watched.  As soon as we arrived in Wailailai, a few of the girls and me went off to do a jewellery making/weaving lesson with some of the ladies from the local village (a lot of the islands have a nearby village, which usually has some sort of interaction with the resort itself, and in the case of Wailailai, the village actually runs the resort).  On our one night in Wailailai, we were lucky to catch the first of many Fijian nights we would see (a lot of the resorts have at least one night a week which is "Fiji night", consisting of typical Fijian entertainment by the staff/villagers, and typical Fijian food).  The Fijian night got underway with a Kava drinking ceremony - Kava is the typical drink of Fiji, made from the root of a pepper tree, which is ground and mixed with water to make a pretty vile drink which looks (and tastes) just like muddy water.  There is a whole tradition around how the Kava is drunk, involving a small bowl made of coconut, and a particular way in which you have to clap before and after downing a bowl of it.  So we sampled our first tast of Kava at Wailailai with all the men of the local village.  We then had a big Fijian buffet, sitting on the decking overlooking the sea.  After dinner, the villagers did a set of traditional Fijian songs (which we now know off by heart, having heard them so many times), and dances.  It was a really nice evening.

The next day, we headed from Wailailai to Octopus (with the exception of Nic, as Octopus is one of the resorts which you have to pay a suplement for, and Nic was sensible and mostly chose to stick to the free resorts).  This was the point at which Fiji went from being great/lovely/gorgeous to incredible/heaven/perfect.  Octopus is one of the most popular resorts, and whereas with most of the resorts you can just book it when on the boat on the way to the resort, with Octopus we'd had to book it a few days before.  It is a proper holiday-destination type place, where everything is done perfectly - there is a big swimming pool, gorgeous cottage-style dorms, immaculate beach, and unbelievable food.  It was incredibly luxurious, and the girls and I instantly fell in love with the place.  Unlike a lot of the other resorts, Octopus actually has lots of holiday-makers, families and couples staying there, rather than just the standard backpackers.  Each night, there is a different form of entertainment, and for the 2 nights we were there we had quiz night and Fijian night - which involved a big Fijian show around the swimming pool, followed by a Fijian buffet brought to each table.  Having all agreed we'd only stay there 2 nights, Sinead and Suzanne decided that they couldn't leave, and so ended up spending even more to stay a third night in a private Bure.  Debs and I, however, went up to another resort called Sunrise Lagoon where we'd planned on meeting Nic.  The problem with that decision was that we went from pure luxury at Octopus to a resort that was incredibly basic, and had a mental dog, which attacked us as we were sunbathing on the beach, and at all meal times.  So, although we were meant to stay there for 2 nights, after the first night, the Octopus withdrawl symptoms got too much for me to bear, and so I headed back to Octopus for one more night  - which was Sunday night, and so movie night - they put up a big screen by the pool, and after dinner everyone lies on the sofa area by the pool watching a movie, with free popcorn.  It was amazing!

So after we'd all split up a bit for a couple of days, we met up again in Kuata, which is another of the free resorts, directly opposite Wailailai.  They also have "Bula Boys", and so we got to enjoy yet more oil-smothered topless male dancers.  It's a hard life.  I also did shark snorkelling at Kuata (one of their speciality activities), where you get to snorkel with their 'friendly' reef sharks, which the staff feed in front of you - such a good experience!

After a night at Kuata, I went down to Beachcomber (the party resort) to meet up with Nick and Greg (friends from uni), and the three of us spent one night there, before going back up to Kuata together to see the girls (other than Sinead, who'd headed back to Octopus!) for their last night on the islands, as they were leaving Fiji 3 days before me. 

Once the girls had left, the guys and I headed back to Korovou for one night, and then spent our last two nights on South Sea Island - which is the smallest of the Yasawa Island resorts, on its own private island, which takes about 3 minutes to walk the entire circumference of.

So all in all, Fiji was absolutely amazing, and incredibly restful.  I am already planning a return trip there at some point.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather, only having a couple of days of cloud, but warm all the time and only about 1 hour of rain in the whole (nearly 3 weeks) time I was there




My goodness, what a story,I marvel at your capacity t be so explicit and interesting. May I suggest you write a travel log, get it published and sell it. You obviously keep a daily diary. I could not put all these details on paper, without repeating anything. Brilliant, What also amazes me how you all manage to go your sepereate ways and then meet up again in totally strange surroundings.Untill the next time, hugs and kisses from me, GMH

  GMH Jun 14, 2010 7:59 PM



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