Published: July 3rd 2008July 1st 2008
Steve: Fiji!!! A perfect place to finish our trip before NZ and a return to work and relatively normal live. We arrived at 5.15am from LA pretty tired after the long flight and having lost 2 days to the international date line. We were able to check in really early to our hostel at Smugglers Cove in Nadi which was great and sit on our balcony and see the sun come up. The hostel was really nice with a great restaurant and really nice rooms. The weather was perfect, its winter in Fiji at the moment so the temp is only about 28/29 degrees and it cools off in the evening a bit. So it wasn't too hot like Costa Rica. We spent the first day relaxing in the sun as we had booked an island hopping trip starting early the next day.
Just north-west of Vitu Levu (One of the 2 main islands in Fiji) our a group of islands called the Yasawas. I think their are 20 islands all together and 12 which backpackers can visit. Basically these islands are set up for backpackers and as well as a daily boat service that takes backpackers to the island
The so called party island
there are plenty of resorts on the islands verying in quality that are aimed at the backpacker market. You can buy a boat pass that gives you unlimited travel around the islands for a set amount of time and an accomodation pass which allows you to stay in most resorts in the island as well 3 meals a day. So you get to set your own itinerary and its a pretty cool set up really.
We decided to start at the top of the islands and work our way down which meant a 5 hour boat journey to start but a great chance to get a bit of tanning in! Our first stop was Matacawalevu island and a resort called Bay of Plenty which the lday at the check in had advised us to visit. Sadly it was a bit disapointing without a really nice beach and no real snorkelling. There was also only 2 others staying and the whole atmosphere was a bit wierd with people who ran it. Plenty of Archie death stares! We got out the next morning and went to Tavewa island and the Coral View resort which was brilliant. The staff were lovely and
Our balcony in Nadi
At about 6am, just after arriving
food, accomodation were excellent. There was also great snorkelling to be done with amazing coral and plenty of fish.
We ended up staying at 6 different resorts of differing quality but they all follow fairly similar set ups. Breakfast from 7, lunch from 1, afternoon tea at 4.30 and dinner at 7. Generally buffets and generally rice based. Most of the food is pretty good though. Each resort puts on different activities which is great so if you get bored sunbathing (like me) there is stuff to do. The other people at the resorts are nearly all backpackers and most on their around the world trips (luckily i didn't meet any of my old customers from STA!) Its a lot different from the other places that we have been but pretty cool as it is a lot more social and it was nice to have some beers and a bit of banter!
The next stop from Coral View was the Yaqeta island and Korovou resort which again was really nice, food ok (not sure what the carrot pizza was about!) with more great diving. Not as many fish as at the Blue Lagoon (across from Coral View) and
Bay of Plenty
The staff greet us off the boat with a song
at Coral View but it was still ace and i saw a huge Lion Fish which was cool! Although i have since found out that they are poisonous - no wonder it didn't look bothered by me. From Korovou we moved onto the Kuata resort on Kuata island which was really cool - the highlight here was snorkelling with the sharks. They were only white tipped reef sharks and no bigger than about a metre or so, however if there wasn't a group of us swimming with them I reckon it would have been pretty worrying. It was spoiled a bit by the size of the group (got plenty of flippers in the face) and by the fact the guides would grab the sharks and not let them go.
Kuata was a really enjoyable island though we met a real nice couple called Gary and Rebecca who we were able to drink with in the evenings and it made a nice change from the worryingly high number of gap year students who were making Kate let alone me feel old! We also got to take part in a Kava ceremony which is the local drink made out of some
root. I was chosen as chief and had to drink this stuff with the actual chief of the island. It looked and tasted like muddy water and made your mouth go numb but it was ok. I am just glad i didn't spit it out all over him. It was also nice to sit and talk to the local guys - it turns out the guy who took us on our shark diving used to play rugby for Toulouse in France so it was cool chatting about rugby with him.
From Kuata we moved onto a resort called Manta Ray, which was so called as nearby you can actually dive with huge Manta Rays. We were told they could actually grow up to 7m across which we weren't sure wether to believe or not. The island was by far the best we stayed on but we had to fork out a bit of extra money so stay there. It had the best food, best entertainment and the best snorkelling with loads of fish. We also had a real cool group of lads staying there with us so the evenings were pretty entertaining. No sight of Manta Rays until the
Local rugby game
Theyasked me to join in but i didn't want to show them up
last day just before we left when they put up the call that there were some about and came and got everyone. Unfortunately there was only one and it wasn't 7 metres wide but it was pretty bloody big. Probably about 3 metres wide and it was awesome to see - really majestic almost flying through the water. Sadly there was the same mad scramble as with the sharks but that was to be expected.
Our last stop before heading back to main land was Beachcomber island which is supposed to be the party island but the bar still shut at 12. It was the most developed we went on but there was far too many 17 and 18 year olds for my liking. Farnsworth would have liked it! It was really beautiful though and was so small you could walk all the way round it in 10 mins. The next day we left for the mainland and were glad to, i think. 12 days is enough really, as it wasn't as a relaxing a time as we had expected. It was a real pain moving islands each time and they had a habit of losing bags or dropping
them in the water! Also with the meal times being really regimented it didn't give you quite as much freedom as we are used to although it was great that the meals were included.
We had a wicked time though and the islands are amazing but if we come back i think we would like to see a bit more of the real Fiji as it is a bit hammed up for the tourists.
There are more photos below