In 2011, I set off on an epic round the world trip that would take me through Egypt, Nepal, India, South East Asia, New Zealand, the USA and, most excitingly for me, Fiji.
Having worked at STA Travel for 2 and a half years before I decided to take a 6 month sabbatical, I was very aware of my options when it came to my own round the world trip and had been inspired to include a 10 day stop in Fiji from the very beginning of the planning stage.
Constantly writing about the beautiful beaches, turquoise lagoons, and laid back vibe made me desperate to experience it for myself – I wanted to be as far away from London as I could – both geographically and metaphorically. So, Fiji was catapulted straight to the top of my sabbatical ‘hit list’ and I built the rest of my trip around my time there.
I’m a bit of a ‘doer’ at heart, so I was a little worried that 10 days might be too much if all I was going to be doing was sitting around on the beach all day (however stunning that beach may be). But I needn’t have worried, after 10 days, when the time came to head off to LA, I wasn’t ready to go! I wanted to stay longer and continue with the things I hadn’t had time to do yet!
Fiji’s a pretty incredible place, and while I have this blog at my disposal, I’m going to spend 5 minutes telling you why I loved Fiji – and why I think you have to have to go. So don’t be jel – just be on your way…
Not a bad way to soothe my hangover on Fiji party island Beachcomber
Here are 14 Reasons Why We All Need A Touch of Fiji in Our Lives
They’re Fiji’s main act, what we all day dream about when picturing ourselves there, and let me assure you, you won’t be disappointed.
Wake up in the morning and step straight in to paradise. You can’t help but get the idea Mother Nature decided to create a little treat for herself when Fiji was born.
Coconut trees, white sand, twinkly, warm water, hammocks, sun, cocktails and an array of colourful fish popping by to say ‘hi’ right next to the shore – it’s got it all.
In fact, I’m so in love with the beaches of Fiji, not too long ago I counted down my favourites right here on the blog. Check out High Five… Fijian Islands to see which came out on top.
Walking out of the room to this every morning was terrible, yep, I hated it *ahem*
A Warm Welcome
Imagine a small fanfare of smiling faces every time you walked through your front door and arrived home. Pretty great hey? Then imagine home (for they next few days or weeks at least) was a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific, and great just became blooming amazing.
As you hop between islands in Fiji a welcome party awaits as you at every one. As I approached Mantray Island with the others on my boat, we were also awarded with a big cheer, a cocktail and a lei placed round our necks to really complete the friendly greeting. Honey I’m home!
The Fiji Experience, erm, Experience
There’s so much more to Fiji than just stunning beaches and great diving opportunities, (although granted this is the jewel in their sparkly crown) and a few days aboard the Fiji Experience will help you to fully appreciate that.
When I was making arrangements for my trip, I can’t tell you the number of times I heard ‘don’t stay on Nadi, jump straight on a boat to the islands’ oh, how glad am I that I didn’t listen.
My times spent aboard the Fiji Experience with Eme and 'Big Willie' and the others were some of the best of my entire trip
Yes the island are amazing, but to really feel what Fiji is all about – you need to experience Nadi. There are so many experiences that so often get missed out by travellers simply because they can’t wait to get to the islands (they aren’t going anywhere I promise!) But hey, if you really can’t wait, then explore Nadi on the way back – you’ll be very glad you did.
This is another reason why a trip to Nadi is a must. During our Fiji Experience adventure we stopped, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, jumped out of the van and began trekking straight through the heart of the Fijian jungle.
It was mucky and hard work, but woah, it was fun. Prepare to cruise down winding rivers aboard a rickety, man made canoes, discover hidden waterfalls, and pluck ripe papayas straight from the tree.
A Colourful History
Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple in Nadi is a perfect example of how the colourful personalities of the Fijian people transcends to every inch of Fijian life.
It’s the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere and the most colourful!
A definite ‘must see’ to really get under the skin of what the makes this great nation tick.
The Sri Siva Temple in Nadi, the biggest and most colourful temple in the Southern Hemisphere.
Extreme Snorkelling and Diving
Enjoy mingling with some of the most colourful and weird looking fish to be found anywhere in the underwater world. The snorkelling and diving just off the shores of Fiji is on a par with other famous diving spots of the world like Thailand, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Red Sea.
There are very few places where you are spoiled with so many different things to explore, so close to the shores. A group of people I met while travelling on Fiji Experience had just come back from a shark dive where they were able to dive heart stoppingly close to bull sharks and hammerhead sharks among others. Mantaray Island in the Yasawas also provides a unique opportunity; to swim with some gentle giants… Manta rays! (Go figure).
Yasawa flyer – the only way to travel
Kiss goodbye to cramped local buses – once you hit Fiji it’s easy street from here on out.
Hopping between the islands of the South Pacific aboard the Yasawa flyer was a welcome relief having come from South East Asia; it felt like 5* travel on a backpacker budget and the view was pretty spectacular too!
I stood at the top of this giant sand dune absolutely petrified about throwing myself off on top of my little body board; but thank god for peer pressure!
The rest of my travel mates weren’t going to let me get away with not having a go, and thank god I did, because although I may have ended up with a mouth (and pants) full of sand, as I careered to the bottom I can now say it was one of the most fun things I’ve done. Ever.
If only they could come up with of an easier way to get you to the top! Phew.
Don't look down....just jump!
There are tonnes of opportunities to volunteer in Fiji and help to improve the lives of the people and wildlife that call this exquisite place home.
Two great ones are Fiji Marine Research & Conservation and working with local children in the Children and Schools Programme. The prefect opportunity to make a difference and get a taste of life as part of the ‘real’ Fiji.
Take a dip in the natural mud pool and hot springs
Fiji is all about what’s natural, and one particularly messy way to embrace that is by taking a dip in the natural mud pools and hot springs.
Don your cossie and jump straight into one of the warm mud pools (and take part in the obligatory mud fight) before hopping straight out and into a warm pool of spring water to rinse off.
A staple of Fijian life that packs a bit of a kick! Kava is a traditional drink made from a natural herbal ground root. It may look (and taste) like puddle water, but you shouldn’t – and probably couldn’t – come to Fiji with out trying it.
It’s a much loved and respected local custom, most commonly used to welcome visitors, so chances are on your travels between islands you’re going to be experiencing a traditional Kava ceremony, drink as much as you dare but be warned, too much can produce a strange numbing sensation in your mouth – pretty weird (but harmless)
Attend a traditional Kava ceremony to get a taste of Fijian culture.
I can safely say I have never been anywhere where the people wear a bigger smile (yep, that even includes Thailand). Life here is a constant giggle, but then, if you live in Fiji, there’s very little to be miserable about, right?!
Eme and ‘Big Willie’, the two Fiji Experience guides that showed me the sights of Nadi turned out to be my favourite people that I met while travelling, and absolutely made my trip to Fiji – and the best bit? There are thousands more just like them on every island stop.
Hammocks on Every Beach
It’s the ultimate way to afternoon nap; swinging between coconut trees on the edge of crystal clear waters as a warm breeze rocks you to sleep.
On Beachcomber Island they have hammocks lined along the shore just outside the beach huts, so if you do need to sleep off a hangover, there’s no better place to do it.
A Sunrise to Beat All Others
Be one of the first in the world to see the dawn of the new day, from the best seat in the house!
A sunrise walk to the top of one of Fiji’s great peaks, such as the summit of Waya Lailai island in the Yasawas, may sound like a lot of effort at silly o’clock in the morning, but the peaceful atmosphere from the top provides a pretty special moment, not to mention an unbeatable view.