After a short (and very comfortable) flight from Auckland with Fiji Airways, we arrived in Nadi to ridiculous humidity. I had a sweaty upper lip by the time we made it to the taxi (with AC luckily). We couldn’t complain though as we were super excited for some guaranteed heat after 5 weeks of mediocre weather in NZ (not that we didn’t end up having our share of rain and clouds).
Actually pronounced “Nandi”, yes we have no clue where that came from either, is known as the transport area of Fiji. 95% of the international flights arrive into Nadi airport and it is also the gateway to the islands. We stayed at Aquarius on the beach, a reasonably sized hotel on Nadi Bay with both private rooms and dorms. Our private room was nice and had its own bathroom. My only niggle is the fact that they pushed two singles together to make a double – never as comfy as a double. It’s funny how our priorities have changed whilst travelling. We would’ve never stayed in a 2* hotel before we came away, but it really isn’t bad (and saves a fortune)! Our hotel was surrounded by other budget hotels around a 15 minute drive out of Nadi town. If you are looking for luxury accommodation, I hear Denerau is the place to stay. It’s more of a resort town, with hotels like the Hilton, and doesn’t seem to have the same Fiji flavour that our hotel had. Dinner options were pretty limited as we were further out than expected, however we found Awesome Grill a five minute walk away and ate there for Valentine’s Day. A three course meal cost FJD55 (about £20) and the best bit was that it was BYO (with a liquor store opposite). The food was lovely (albeit slightly greasy) and the staff were very welcoming. A must if staying in the area. We also ate at our hotel on our last night and had a couple of drinks. The food was actually so good and as good as the rest of the restaurants we had tried.
Nadi town is buzzing in the day, with the daily fresh produce market and lots of shops. We had a bizarre experience in town which started with bumping into a Fijian guy who wanted to show us the arts and crafts market. As we wanted to go there, we let him show us and ended up in a shop on the Main Street. The Fijians welcomed us with a Kava ceremony (a drink made from plants which tastes like bad coffee) which is very famous in Fiji, obviously a ploy to get us to look around. At first our heads were fighting us with “this is what you are always told not to do”, but being in the middle of a shop with other people looking around we silently agreed that it was fine. Not being the type of people who enjoy sitting still for long, we were itching to get up and look around the store, but were told “Fiji time, Fiji time” a number of times. They made us feel very welcome and ended up buying a few things which were ridiculously cheap for what they were (things we were actually looking for might I add). The town is a good place to spend a few hours looking around, especially at the temple at the end of the road which is so pretty. Entry was FJD5 each (£2 ish) and you had to cover up, but they lend sarongs etc. Jack was quite taken by his new orange skirt, but wouldn’t let me get a pic 😂. Nadi town at night is a completely different story. On our first night we tried to walk into town but were deterred by hotel staff and got the FJD10 taxi (it wouldve taken like 2hrs to walk). When we got there, the only places open were two Chinese restaurants. I was so confused by the hotel choice and thinking what the hell have I done seeing as we were so far out and the local town was so dead (this improved after a good meal and finding other things around us with wifi) – we were only there for 3 nights though, I can’t imagine staying in Nadi for two weeks (I guess that’s why they built all the resorts in Denerau). We ended up eating in Sentai (one of the restaurants) and the food was sooo good! Again, we spent about £20 on so much food and two alcoholic drinks – not bad at all. If visiting the town, its definitely best to go during the day!
The next part of our trip was Island hoping around the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. Our first stop was Beachcomber Island which was 45 minutes out from the mainland (renowned for being the party Island). It was pretty quiet on our first day, but was very busy on the second day due to the day trippers arriving. This didn’t really make for the party Island that it was meant to be though, probably because we weren’t there in high season (also explains the rain). The Island was absolutely beautiful, even when the heavens opened (which was a lot), and took about 8 minutes to walk around. The sand really was as yellow as the pictures and the sea warm and clear. We were pre-warned that drinks on the islands are very expensive so stocked up on Fiji water (I know it sounds so silly, but I didn’t realise that Fiji water was actually sold in Fiji, I just thought it was a con back at home) and beers. The mark up on the drinks was ridiculous: a beer was three times the price we paid at the convenience store in Nadi. We had pre paid for accommodation and an island hopping boat pass before leaving the UK (through STA). This also included food at some resorts but we had to pay extra at Beachcomber (FJD82 per person per night), it was worth it though. Food was served pretty much all day, with dinner being a la carte. I thought it might be tough not eating meat, but there was a fish option for every meal, so all good! The rain definitely didn’t stop us enjoying our time here. We ate lots, relaxed and spent time in the pool (which was the perfect temperature). The people were also lovely and happy to help with anything you needed.
After an hour of seasickness for both of us, we arrived at Waya Lailai resort. A much bigger, greener island. We were welcomed by the locals with a guitar and song (they love it over there) and then settled into our accommodation for the next two days. We had a hut with outside area and own bathroom, however if you want modern rooms and aircon (we spent the first night trying not to accidentally touch each other in order to stay cool), then this is not the island for you. It was perfectly fine for 2 days, but a week would be pushing it – I know I’m a bit of a snob, but I do like a bathroom with a door that shuts, electricity which runs all day (something a lot of islands have in common) and a daily maid service. The island was very pretty and looked onto another green island with a resort. Included in the accommodation price was breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The food was ok, but the only place so far where I have struggled with not eating meat (although I was offered an omelette to accompany my rice both nights) and ended up loading up on carbs. By the end of our stay, I was looking forward to a change in diet. We drank the beers and water which we bought with us, so managed to spend only FJD17 (£9 approx.) in 2 days! The people were lovely and this island definitely had more of a family feel, due to the fact there were three villages on the island in which the staff all lived. We were lucky enough to have the chance of visiting one of the villages on Sunday morning for church. We all had to cover up, so I ended up in full Fijian dress (made me look tiny) and Jack back with his sarong. The service was in Fijian, but it was great to appreciate the singing and how passionate the speakers were. It was one of those experiences which made us think this is really what travelling is about. I loved the island mainly due to the culture they shared with us. Along with the church service, we were taught the Bula dance (kinda like the Macarena) and then had a display of cultural items and a kava ceremony. It felt like we were part of the culture and we appreciated that. We had great weather and were able to top up our tans nicely (along with a bit of pink). This made the two days fly past.
Another hour on the boat transferred us to our next destination – Korovou on Naviti Island. We were excited to get to the island as we knew that it had a pool, but it was obviously our luck that the pool looked like the diving pool at the Olympics as it turned green. Our room was pretty similar to the other resorts, however it was 5 steps from the beach. Waking up to the sound of waves every morning was just beautiful and the sunsets were mesmerising. The only issues with the room were the electricity which was only on until midnight, which made a trip to the loo pretty eerie and also meant that the fan turned off in the middle of the night. The shower was also more of a dribble – not that we came away to experience good showers. Again, the resort was pretty quiet and there were only 15 guests for dinner one night. We were also with a few of the same people from previous islands – there really couldn’t have been that many people in Fiji, but I guess we were at the end of Cyclone season. I was also itching to get back online after four days of having no clue what is going on in the world, or with family/friends. We spent more on drinks here as we didn’t have a fridge and refused to drink warm water or beer. The people running the accommodation were lovely, but the food really wasn’t the best – I looked forward to not having to eat just vegetables and potatoes for a while. We had a weaving workshop ran for us on our second day. This was so interesting as it was so cool to see what could be done with coconut leaves. Jack didn’t want to partake, but I weaved a tiny handbag. Sadly, it couldn’t make it home though. Apart from my moans, the Island was really pretty with lush green hills, the sunsets were ridiculous, and the Fijian people fantastic, but had a pretty similar vibe to Waya Lailai so probably wouldn’t recommend doing both.
Arriving on Nacula Island at Blue Lagoon Beach Resort for three days to celebrate our anniversary was something else. We were met with a welcome drink and shown to our room within 5 minutes, then whisked off to lunch. Our luggage met us there in our rooms of course. It’s amazing what white walls and a ceiling fan can do as the room was beautiful. We didn’t pay for the upgrade to a beachfront villa, but really didn’t need to as the room was perfect and the shared facilities only a few doors down. Food was extra in this resort (c£40pp per day) but it was so worth it. Breakfast included eggs or pancakes to order, lunch was a la carte with 8 choices plus specials and dinner was 5 courses. It was a shock to the system (quiet literally) to be able to eat something other than carbs and we finally had some fresh fish and seafood – yum. Drinks were pricey in comparison to the other resorts but they did offer free drinking water. The resort itself was beautiful and modern but stuck to the traditional Fijian architecture. I’m a sucker for outdoor furniture, so it had me with day beds around the pool and bean bags in the bar. The location really was something special and the name blue lagoon is pretty accurate. The sea is so blue and so clear. We went snorkelling (FJD 25 compared to 45 on the other islands which was good) on our anniversary and saw so much. We also took a trip to the caves and experienced the fresh water and underground world which was fun. The evening entertainment was pretty good too. On our last night, we had a performance from the local village and crab racing. Jack picked out our hermit crab which ended up crossing the line first, and helped us out financially with 30 dollars off of our hefty bar tab. We didn’t even know we had won until it was announced. We did end up spending quite a bit of money in three days but didn’t mind as it was our anniversary, plus we hadn’t spent much at all over the past 10 days. We really didn’t want to leave Blue Lagoon but were excited to get back on mainland and start the countdown to LA.
It was really hard to pick our favourite island. I think Blue Lagoon was my overall favourite, mainly due to the pure luxury that it offers which was something that our trip was lacking in. Waya Lailai was a very close second due to the traditional Fijian experience which we had. I think you would miss out massively if you went island hopping and only stayed at the larger, more expensive resorts.
The boat ride back to mainland took about 5 hours, but was surprising easy and went pretty quick. We chose a different seat and managed to avoid sea sickness. Sigatoka is about an hour south of Nadi, so our taxi cost about £35 but better than trying to negotiate busses after dark. We strategically decided to stay at Gecko’s resort (about 10 mins out of town) as it was meant to allow us to use the facilities at the Shangri-La without having to pay over double the price of our room, however we seemed to be the only people who were turned away by the Shangri-La and not actually allowed to use the pool or beach. We quickly got over that though, and used the rest of the time to relax in our pool and enjoy the traditional show and fire dance. The three days there went really quickly, as the hotel restaurant was really nice and we had some good sun so improved our tans. We made the trip into Sigatoka town to pick up some souvenirs and to visit the local shops. It was a bit like Nadi, but kept us busy for an hour or so. We took the bus back to the airport which was super easy and only cost $6 each (so much cheaper than a $90 taxi). We had a lovely time here, but were so ready to go to LA.
Fiji was such a great stop, with some of the most beautiful scenery. The islands were definitely the best part of the two weeks and it really would be a shame to go all the way to Fiji and not see the islands.
We’ve just landed in LA, trying to get over the 20 hour time difference from Fiji, so are spending the evening in bed at our Airbnb planning our schedule for the next action packed three weeks. Can’t believe we are home in 24 days now!!
Hope you are all still enjoying the blog and pictures. Love as always xx