What a week we’ve spent in Fiji! Imagine… crystal clear turquoise seas with colourful coral that stretches for miles… orange and pink skies that frame the soft clouds at sunset… white sandy beaches with little crabs that will keep you mesmerised for hours… temperatures soaring into the 30s that will get you sizzling while you sunbathe… oh and of course lovely, friendly, caring Fijians that ensure you’re welcomed and feel as if you’re part of their family! Have I sold it to you yet? Fiji is one of the most relaxing holiday destinations that I’ve been to. I feel pretty lucky to have experienced Fiji and it was a great way to start our 6 months of travels.
Ok that’s enough, I’ll stop making you jealous…
Zoe and I decided to begin our travels in Fiji mainly because we wanted to visit New Zealand and Australia during the months they have a warmer climate. To do this we had to plan our route so that these destinations were among the first we visited and therefore we decided to travel to the furthest from England first! So here we are in Fiji, pretty much at the opposite side of the word!
Fiji comprises of around 330 islands, covering 1.3 million square km of the South Pacific Ocean. We booked the Awesome Adventure Island Time trip which included stops at 3 Fijian islands; Blue Lagoon, Barefoot Manta and Beachcomber, over a 5 night period. The trip includes transport to and from the Port Denarau, we were also picked up from the airport in Nadi and taken to our hostel where we spent our first and last nights. It was all pretty easy and hassle free!
Arriving at our first hostel, Smugglers Cove, was pretty eye opening for me. I have never stayed in a hostel before and seeing the number of people walking in and out of our dorm made me a bit nervous— it was a pretty big dorm, jet lag probably didn’t help either! We soon made a few friends and headed to Bamboo which was another hostel only 100yds down the road, a few drinks down and I was feeling much better. I have since become a lot more accustomed to sharing my room with strangers!
I think Nadi is a good place to base yourself if you only plan to do day trips to other islands but I would definitely recommend staying over night on the islands if you can— they’re much more beautiful!
To get around there are many different options including; helicopter, cruise, seaplane, yacht, boat— to name a few. Our organised trip included the Yasawa boat transfer, a large catamaran, which was used by many to get around the islands (it’s also the cheapest method).
We started our island hopping by heading to the Blue Lagoon Resort, this was one of the islands furthest from Nadi and we spent the four and half hour journey on the top deck of the catamaran which had great views of the Fijian surroundings – until it started raining! Our mistake here was sitting in the direct sun for far too long and my face ended up so sun burnt it started swelling, making me look as if I’d had an allergic reaction— bad move from me!
Upon arriving at Blue Lagoon we transferred from the Yasawa flyer onto the hotels much smaller speed boat and were welcomed by the staff singing and playing the ukulele— this is a typical welcome from the Fijians and the song always ends with a big cheery BULA to which we respond with… you guessed it… BULA as loud as we could!!
The pictures and videos we had seen of Blue Lagoon had really built our expectations for crystal clear turquoise water and whilst it was like that to a certain extent it definitely wasn’t as ‘blue’ as the name suggested. However, everything else about this resort made up for it.
On our first night we were invited to the hotels Kava welcoming ceremony, no not Cava (sadly), Kava, it doesn’t have a fizz. Kava is a mildly narcotic sedative drink made from the crushed roots of a plant of the pepper family (yum). Fijians drink Kava when they come together to socialise, or whenever they have an excuse to drink it, excluding Sundays! Kava is mixed with water and ‘brewed’ like a tea bag, when it is your turn you must gulp it down quickly rather than sipping it, apparently this enhances the narcotic traits that it has. Thankfully, it isn’t strong, it only makes your tongue tingle and the taste wasn’t too horrendous!
The rest of our time here consisted of sunbathing, swimming in the sea and pool, reading our books and watching the sun set from the beach with a happy hour cocktail (and trying to get the swelling on my face down) . Less of the travelling and more of the relaxing part of the sixth month trip… maybe we should have done it at the end!
The food was to a very high standard and was a mixture between buffet and a la carte. All guests sit down to eat at the same time and all are charged the same for food, which can be frustrating when you’re travelling on a budget but we tried to ignore this fact and just enjoyed it!
When leaving the resort there were pretty strong winds and the waves had really picked up. To get onto the Yasawa flyer to transfer to the next island you have to transfer from the hotels smaller boat, like I mentioned earlier. However due to the waves we were pretty nervous and only two girls managed to get off before they abandoned it and went to calmer waters! Luckily we made it on… and so did our bags!
The next two nights we stayed at Barefoot Manta, which was my favourite island out of the handful we visited. We didn’t do much differently than what we did at Blue Lagoon but there are things about the resort that made it feel more authentic and lest ‘resorty’. The main reason for this was the fact that there was less than 20 of us staying on the island and the staff were so attentive and friendly that you felt so welcome here— we didn’t want to leave!
There are three beaches at Barefoot Manta: sunrise beach which is where our dorm was located, sunset beach and Manta Ray beach— unfortunately we were out of season for the manta rays which we knew about before we arrived. The sea was crystal clear and the coral stretched for miles, there were lots of spots for snorkelling and even though there were no Manta rays there were plenty of other fish to see.
Our dorm was shared between four and was a small hut right on sunrise beach so we had nice views when we woke up. Be aware if you come here and stay in the dorm you should keep the door shut! On a number of occasions I returned to my room to be greeted by bugs. Once, Zoe had to come to the rescue to catch a spider— there was absolutely no way I’d be sleeping there with it in the room, it looked poisonous too, although Zoe did say I was exaggerating..
Each night our dinner would be accompanied by some of the members of staff singing and playing music for us, it seems that so many Fijians can either play the guitar, ukulele or they can sing— very talented bunch!
We managed to do a bit of kayaking while we were here and the water was so calm that you felt you could stay out for hours on end… if the sun wasn’t so strong. It was a great way to see the coral from our boat in places where it was too far to swim.
All the guests at the resort really gelled and on our final night there was a bit of a sing song from not only the Fijians but the guests who were musically talented. If I’m being honest, it went on for a bit long and became a bit of cringe moment… maybe you’ll think I’m a spoil sport!
It was sad to say bye to this island but we made some great memories and suntans! Next stop was our final stop – Beachcomber, the ‘party’ island…
Beachcomber island isn’t far from Nadi and is known for being the party island in Fiji. Only three of us transferred from the Yasawa Flyer to the hotels boat and found about 10 others staying on the island.. pretty disappointing when its geared up for around 300!
Despite this we didn’t let the lack of atmosphere damper our spirits. We arrived pretty late in the day but it was perfect timing for happy hour so we ordered ourselves a cocktail and they arrived in huge plastic glasses – a la Magaluf.
After dinner we were joined by another girl on her travels around Fiji and we spent a couple of hours in the bar. As we were the only ones in the bar they cancelled the activities and entertainment such as learning the Bula dance which was a let down because there was nothing much to do otherwise. We ended the night early and got a good nights sleep— Beachcomber certainly didn’t live up to its expectations of being a party island.
The next day was our final day. We joined the snorkelling trip which took us on a boat to the coral not too far away from the island. We saw lots of little stripey fish (technical term) and some larger ones, they were feeding them little chunks of bread so there were so many of them and they got pretty close! The bizarre thing about this trip was that there was no ladder to get back onto the boat, instead, we had to climb onto the instructors shoulders while the boat driver grabbed you and pulled you onto the boat— I think investing in some ladders is the way forward!
A little later after we had lunch we were shown how to make baskets out of palm tree leaves, he told us that it took him two days to learn this skill and it definitely didn’t look easy! Soon after it was time for us to jump back onto the Yasawa Flyer to head back to Nadi.
Our stay at Beachcomber was pretty short but we didn’t mind, we wouldn’t have wanted to stay another night. I think it would be a really fun island if there was a bigger group of you there and you were able to do the fun activities. Coming from the other two islands where the staff went out of their way to ensure you had a great stay to Beachcomber where the attitude just wasn’t the same made it all the more disappointing. Overall, I’d say go in peak season to see what its like but if you have limited time definitely prioritise the other islands.
Would I return to Fiji?
I loved Fiji and I would 100% return, especially to visit Barefoot Manta when its manta ray season! The Island Time trip was really good but I think it would be better to select your islands from recommendations rather than having them chosen for you. It’s a great place to visit if you love relaxing on a beach, snorkelling and water sport activities, plus great food!
Next stop is New Zealand for 6 weeks!
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