Fantabulous Fiji

Old Jan 16th, 2018, 03:56 AM
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Fantabulous Fiji

Vinaka ( thank you ) all ye wonderful Fodorites, for your prayers were answered & wishes came true.

Two beautiful weeks in the sun drenched islands of Fiji were awesome & scorchingly brilliant. The hues of blue , dynamic & dramatic, the spirit of the color invoked imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, depth & freedom. Naturally photoshopped to perfection and breathtakingly beautiful, Fiji has a lot to offer if only one decides to break loose from the confines of a resort. Lush tropical forests, rolling hills to pristine sandy beaches and azure waters teaming with colorful corals and marine life. Plenty to do too from snorkeling , diving, kayaking, fishing , island hopping, paddle-boarding, trekking, beachcombing, to resort based activities like yoga, cooking, village visits, birding,reading , people watching and beach games. Plenty to do. Just let your imagination loose. My sundowner time was most valuable. A favorite drink in hand and watch the rays of the sinking sun paint the scintillating skies.

It was on a beautiful sunny Sunday, on the island of Taveuni, a little past noon, I was in a taxi on the way to Tavoro Waterfalls when an elderly Fijian pastor ( also happened to be the chief of his village) hitched a ride in our vehicle. He had just finished the Sunday sermons and urgently needed a lift to the pier, down the road, to catch the boat to his island before low tide. Introductions and pleasantries exchanged the discussion as usual started with the weather and how brilliant it was. He complimented me for bringing in these salubrious warm sunny days with me. Accepting his kind words I told him it was truly the prayers and wishes, of my Fodorite mates that Iím blessed and destined to have a great holidayÖ..and so it was.

A big Vinaka again folks.



Before I start this little report I did ponder whether it fits in here. Technically it must be on the Australia & the Pacific forum. But then you folks are all likely to leave your footprints in Fiji sooner or later. So Iím convinced this is the ideal place to post. Apart from being a stranger on the A & P forum, I got little help. Kindly note that, thatís no reason Iím not posting there. Iím sure anyone looking for info or does a search could bump into this thread, which could hopefully be of help.

Fiji Airways flight FJ360 took off at 2 pm from Singapore. ď Bula !! Welcome aboard !! ď.The smile on the hostess, a south pacific islanderís was extremely warm. Wearing a Sulu Jaba (a Fijian sarong)with traditional Fijian motif prints in cyan and earthy brown, the pretty lady, with a ĎTekitekií (flower) Frangipani in the hair, ushered me to my comfortable seat. Vodka & Tonic and Canapes, prawns in coconut followed by slow braised beef rib in tamarind sauce served with potato hash, peas & tomato. Signing off with dessert. Think it was mango mousse. Soon lulled into sleep.. zzzZZZ...I do not remember the rest of the journey.

Woken up shortly before dawn, we descended into Nadi (pronounced Nandi) Intl airport. You know you have arrived into and island paradise. A guitar band in colorful printed shirts and lei, serenade you as you walk past the immigration. Wow. What a lovely welcome as the new day dawned in Fiji, the last day of 2017. The sun was up as I was soon out of the airport making my way to the port town of Lautoka to catch a ferry to the island of Tavewa in the Yasawas. The ferry was to leave at 8.30 am. She was docked at the pier. Tavewa Seabus, a cattle class catamaran. Iíll explain why, a little later.

Arriving at a quarter to eight, had to patiently wait till the weighing of luggage and head count of passengers were in progress. The captain of the vessel with a few crew were hard at work. My questions about boarding, ETD & ETA went unheeded. I wasnít sure if I would be on board till the last minute. My time had arrived. My soft bag loaded and I was pushed in. We were all set to leave till a large 4x4 drove in with more freight. The loading took another 45mins. On enquiry I was told that it was the owner of this boat & sailing company. So everyone was obliged to waitÖ..Its Fiji time folks !!!!



The inhabitants in Fiji, often shrug their shoulders and throw up their arms and say ďItís Fiji Time ď. Initially I couldnít comprehend it till I read this storyÖ.

Itís about a 19th-century planter who promised a South Pacific islander a weekly wage and a pension if he would come to work on his copra plantation.Copra is dried coconut meat, from which oil is pressed for use in soaps, cosmetics, and other products. Hours of backbreaking labor are required to chop open the coconuts and extract the meat by hand.

The islander was sitting by the lagoon, eating fruit he had picked from nearby trees while hauling in one fish after another. "Let me make sure I understand you," said the islander. "You want me to break my back working for you for 30 years. Then you'll pay me a pension so I can come back here and spend the rest of my life sitting by the lagoon, eating fruit from my trees and the fish I catch? I may not be sophisticated, but I am not stupid."

This attitude is all over Fiji. Leave your wrist watch behind. Simply laid back, no hurry and itís the way things are done. Take it or leave it. No choice, I took it and learned to live with it.
..more to follow
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Old Jan 16th, 2018, 06:47 AM
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I'll follow. So far reminding me of our wonderful trip there in 2001 in the month of July which is their winter but for all practical purposes means dry, sunny weather with temps in the mid 80's. Perfect.

I hope you had a sip of kava too.
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Old Jan 16th, 2018, 12:02 PM
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<< Two beautiful weeks in the sun drenched islands of Fiji were awesome & scorchingly brilliant. The hues of blue , dynamic & dramatic, the spirit of the color invoked imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, depth & freedom. Naturally photoshopped to perfection and breathtakingly beautiful, Fiji has a lot to offer if only one decides to break loose from the confines of a resort. >>

Wonderful description and great start to your report, inquest! I am happily following along! I only hope that you post updates faster than "Fiji time"!

Looking forward to more - another temptation added to the long list of places that I want to visit!
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Old Jan 16th, 2018, 12:12 PM
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Oh yay ! Sounds like a wonderful introduction. I don’t need much prompting to add another spot to my list of potential destinations. The chalk is ready...
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Old Jan 17th, 2018, 03:54 AM
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JW, July is great weather in Fiji is what I was told you must have had a great time I presume.The temp too rarely goes below 24C and could peak at 36C. Humidity is 100%, that in my opinion gets unbearable.

Thanks Progol, hahaha..'Fiji Time !!'..its very contagious and it rubs off on you...will try to maintain the pace.

Sartoric, I have this gut feel that you'll be in Fiji before this report is complete.For most of you its your backyard.

The Yasawas , strung like a pearl necklace across the azure waters ,are a long stretch of 20 islands northwest of Fiji’s main island Veti Levu. Some of these islands are large, rugged and full of natural beauty. Gorgeous beaches, abundant sunshine and a range of resorts cater to every type of sun-worshipper, this is the place to come for an ‘any budget’ retreat in paradise. Most of these islands have uninhabited coral islets, colorful reefs, limestone caves and remote fishing villages .Each one of them have stunning beaches. The most well known is the Blue Lagoon made famous by the movie.

The Seabus chugged along at a steady pace. Two large Yamaha outboard motors powered the boat sailing northeast towards the Yasawas. The boat itself was a locally built catamaran. The seats were rather uncomfortable. The toilet was in a rather pitiable state. No refreshments on board considering it’s a 3-6 hr sail to the last of the islands in the chain. Apart from a few other travellers like me there were locals Fijians making the trip back to their respective villages in the islands. Most passengers were blissfully asleep. This boat was a shuttle stopping along the way, offloading people and goods. The only thing missing on board was livestock. There are of course better options to get to these islands, which I shall list out later. The blazing sun was getting hotter as we bobbed along. Even though we were on the ocean there was hardly any breeze to cool us. I could see the main island of Veti Levu drifting away.

A good 3 hours we were in sight of Tavewa . As we approached the island I could see the resort where I booked into. The Coral View Resort. Our catamaran was met by the resort dinghy that pull alongside our catamaran, brought in the guests who were leaving and picked me up. A short boat ride, I alighted to a warm Fijian welcome. “Bula !! Welcome to our beautiful resort. Hope you enjoy the stay with us” a pretty girl offered a welcome drink as I made my way to the gazebo. Formalities completed I was taken to the beach front bure .

The bure which was sea-facing had a porch with a hammock. A double bed en-suite room was of decent size. A wardrobe and a refrigerator to one side and a wash basin at the entrance to the restroom ( wondered why, thought there was ample room in the loo).No aircon but a ceiling fan with the conked regulator, going full blast at one speed. Didn’t matter as the weather was pleasant throughout my stay, the four windows providing ample crosswind.

It was already 2pm, pangs of hunger creeping in, refreshed and back at the gazebo order for a ‘stubbie’ Fiji Gold,a steak and potato hash, at a table with a view to die for..for right across was the Blue Lagoon !

Its was the 31st of Dec, New Year’s eve, the gazebo was decked up & celebrations had started. I was too tired after a long haul. Much needed rest,retired to my bure…

…..the party…coming soon….
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Old Jan 17th, 2018, 04:14 AM
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Sounds heavenly, inquest!

I can't imagine traveling 6 hours in a boat that you described! 3 hours would be too much for me!
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Old Jan 17th, 2018, 02:50 PM
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inquest, I really appreciate you posting this trip report. It makes Fiji very tempting to me.
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Old Jan 17th, 2018, 03:17 PM
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Yes July was perfect weather really.

NYE in Fiji sounds amazing, something to remember forever.

God bless you for trying that local How was it? I loved Fiji bitter but haven't been able to get one since we got back so long ago and I tried but they do not distribute to my part of the world.

Kathie Fiji was the best land vacation we have ever had. Its beautiful and the people were so friendly I could not believe it. The kava was an experience too. If you don't know its a drink made from the root of a pepper plant and is used ceremonially in the south Pacific or just to kick back and relax. I had mine with three natives who I think had been having a "few". Its was in a wooden bowl and we all had to clap three times before consuming it. I'll never forget that experience.
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Old Jan 17th, 2018, 05:10 PM
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Hurray , another Inquest trip report!!! Looking forward to more, more more!!
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Old Jan 18th, 2018, 05:20 AM
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Progol, the ferry to Tavewa was 3 hours, I was referring to the northern most Yasawa islands which would take upto 6 hrs on the seabus i was on. There are faster options like the Yasawa Flyer which do it in half the time. I'm to blame,last minute departure,little time for research & little transfer time led to this goof up.You win some you lose some.

Thanks Kathie.You'll sure love Fiji. Great place for 'downtime'.

JW. The beers were good so was the Fiji Bitter,Fiji Gold, Vonu Eight , Vonu Light Lager and Fiji Taki .
Kava ? Not for me .I also do not remember whether we clapped before or after the gulp.

Cali. Will try not to disappoint you.You have been my inspiration right through,encouraging me on other TRs. Promise i'll do my best.I'll put down all info here,so that you folks will be galvanized to go.

Its was 7pm…rested well. There was no dress code for the night, so it was beach wear for me. In my new ‘Bula’ shirt , beach shorts and flip flops I joined the party at the gazebo. The guests had arrived. The music was pulsating. There were a few couples on the dance floor. Multi-hued cocktails were flowing. Dinner was being served. Fresh fish, prawns, crab and lobster were on the menu. There was Lovo too. It’s a banquet cooked in earthen oven where chicken, meat and fish along with vegetables mixed with marinates and sauces, wrapped in banana and/or taro leaves and lowered into a pit with hot rocks, then covered with soil/sand and slowly allowed to cook for hours. The outcome is a deliciously flavored ,smoky tender fare.

The music suddenly stopped and the MC announced the start of Meke .With the beat of the wooden sticks the traditional dance of the islanders started. Performed by a group of men wearing frangipani leis and skirts made of shredded leaves or reeds chanting, grunting, clapping and chest beating. It was more like a synchronized war dance. Some of us were asked to join in to do a two-step shuffle. As simple as it was, with my two left feet, I was often out of step. If I were a Fijian, the chief would have most certainly banished me from the tribe, for being a disgrace!!

On cloud 9, I too joined in the kava ceremony with staff on the beach. More singing, dancing on the beach by a big bonfire. Kava,it is said is akin to use of substance like cocoa, tobacco, opiates and the like in other cultures. This traditional practice which has historic, social and religious significance is prevalent across oceania. Its also said to have medicinal properties.

Whatever it is, the grog session was fun that night. We all sat cross-legged around the ‘Tanoa’ a large wooden bowl/basin with legs. There was this master of ceremonies preparing the concoction, while clustered behind him were islanders with a drum chanting .What goes into it is explained above by JW. Finally it was ready to be served as the cup bearer holding it in both hands poured the kava into each one of our cups. We all drained the tot in a single draft. A big gulp and a war cry, which sounded like “makaaaaa.. !!’ , followed by clapping of hands.

“Yikeeks !!” was my cry, I too clapped, applauding myself for having gulped it without throwing up….. muddy, earthy, bitter, medicinal phew !!… ...straight out of a puddle, can’t explain what was exactly and what to make of it, my kava ceremony was over as quickly as it started. Not for me. Made my way to the restroom and rinsed my mouth. Sorry folks for the graphic details. Again, if I were an islander I would have been labelled anti-social. Returned with my shot of single malt, back at the ceremonial grounds politely refusing another shot at it. Celebrations went into the night. The place erupted at the stroke 12. Quite groggy made my way back to my bure and bed.

What next ? 2018 …..
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Old Jan 18th, 2018, 09:10 AM
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I am following this report and itís quite funny. . I agree that kava Is not for everyone and I do recall that after drinking it when I try to stand up I immediately thought this is not a good idea and I better sit down again. . And a single malt is always a good idea!

It sounds like you had a great time and I will continue to follow this very fun report.
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Old Jan 18th, 2018, 02:37 PM
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Following and smiling!!
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Old Jan 18th, 2018, 03:57 PM
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And as for the "graphics' speaking for myself and Cali hey we are retired RN's. Don't worry about us.
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 04:57 AM
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My Bure


From the gazebo in Coral view Resort


Weather report in Fiji


This catamaran is Awesome Advertures Fiji which covers the Yasawas.Faster
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 05:04 AM
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Moonrise over Blue Lagoon


Honeymoon Island, A boat ride away


View from the Bure
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 06:06 AM
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Oh, inquest! What an amazing place! It looks like a little piece of heaven! And the weather station -- perfect! It looks like a place where time can move verrrryyy slowwly..... a perfect place to chill out and relax.

(that hammock looks too tempting when I'm sitting here in my office at work! _
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 06:58 AM
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Very cool! Love the Fijian way to interpret the weather.
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 11:57 PM
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Its wasn’t early to bed so wasn’t early to rise..I woke up with the sun was shining in my eyes. A brilliant day. The morning after was not too bad at all. Black coffee freshened me up. The resort was slowly stirring after a hard night’s party. I had booked an island picnic on ‘Honeymoon Island’. It was to be ‘Champagne Brunch ‘.The chef was a very grumpy man so spent time the previous day planning the picnic basket with him. Most of my requests were turned down. So I left it to him.

The resort dingy was loaded with the cooler box and a picnic basket. I packed my snorkel gear, loads of sun-screen, a beach towel and a book into my beach bag. Off we sailed, about half an hour we were in sight of the island, greeted by a gorgeous beach with white powdery sand and glistening blue seas. I chose a lovely spot under a small palm at set up camp. Bid farewell to the boat-man. He was to pick me up at sundown.

A picnic in the shade of the coconut palm.

I rolled out the picnic blanket. First things first, out came the champagne cooler and in went a bottle of the eternal favorite MoŽt & Chandon (which I had bought for a special occasion & this was picture perfect). Brunch was yogurt, muesli & fruit parfait, fresh mixed fruit juice, Tuna salad, baked beans, French toast with bacon, sausages & pumpkin pudding for dessert. A pretty decent spread.

A most unreal experience considering I was the only person on the island in the middle of the South Pacific, enjoying a lazy day by the sea, refreshing dips in the calm seas & snorkel in the crystal-clear water. Wow.

Lulled by the gentle sea breeze I fell asleep woken up by a shrill call of a tern. Half past six the dingy arrived. A hot cup of coffee and just before sundown set off back to the resort.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2018, 11:40 PM
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The third and final day at Coral View was packed with activities, snorkeling, paddle-boarding kayaking. It started with the visit to the Sawa-I-Lau caves. It is said that no trip to the Yasawas is complete without having visited the cave. The ancient limestone formations, carved by constant wave action, are hidden within this little island. Its also known as the resting place of the ten-headed ancient Fijian god, Ulutini. Climbing up a set of stairs and you then descend into the caves. Swimming in the first cave is magical as you look up to the limestone roof and can catch glimpses of blue sky through the opening. After that you get to swim into the second cave, kind of an anti-chamber. To reach it you have to swim through an underwater passage into darkness. Very eerie. Very claustrophobic. Incredible experience.

I’ve listed the resorts in the Yasawas. Google them. They cater to all budgets. Many,including Coral View resort have multi - bed aircon dorms. Coral View has certainly seen better days.I felt it’s a bit run down now.

Navutu Star resort, Long Beach resort , Bay of plenty ,Turtle Island resort , Gold Coast Inn , Sunrise Resort, Nanuya Island resort, Isa Lei Glampsite, Blue Lagoon Beach resort, Coconut Beach, Natabe Haven, Corel View resort, Oarsmans Bay Lodge, Nabua Lodge, Nacula Homestay,Navotua Homestay.

Tavewa Seabus time table:

Departs Kings Jetty 8am Arrives Coral view 11.30am

Departs Coral view 1pm Arrives Lautoka 4.30pm

( that’s what they claim . Fiji Time )

The Yasawa Flyer is a far better Catamaran to sail to the Yasawas. Operated by Awesome Fiji.
Awesome Adventures Fiji is another option. They have over 15yrs of experience. They offer packages to the Yasawas. They have ‘Bula Passes’ for ‘free style’ island hopping. You can decide yourself and build your own holiday package by choosing the resorts and length of stay.
They offer package which they refer to as ‘Coconut Rating’ .
Coconut One is dorms and bures,
Coconut Two is backpacker to Flash Packer- Dorms, bures and lodges.
The link : www.awesomefiji.com

It was time to get back to the main island of Veti Levu and further on to the island of Taveuni.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2018, 11:47 PM
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Transferring guests to the catamaran
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