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Adopting island time in Fiji

A week of doing very little

sunny 30 °C
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White and turquoise - need more?

White and turquoise - need more?

With only seven nights in Fiji, an effect of there only being two flights onto Vanuatu each week, we hadn't planned on doing too much. Originally we had booked into the Hilton for all seven nights, but then we realised that we wanted to see a bit more of the country, so we reduced our stay to four. This would allow for two nights on a small island away from the mainland. We booked into the Hilton as I had collected a lot of reward points from my work travels which meant free nights! After 11 months on the road, a super-comfy bed, a powerful shower and a bit of organisation were a treat we much appreciated. We settled down on the fluffy towels and comfortable sun-loungers by one of the seven pools and didn't move much more. We thought about a few tours but nothing really appealed so we stuck it out by the pool, with the odd glass of rosé or Fijian beer, and did a bit of blog writing and fish photo sorting. We did make it out of the hotel to the nearby marina where we could buy a few supplies (mostly sun cream), find a cheaper restaurant and free WiFi (the Hilton's internet pricing is about 10 years out of date). But we didn't go any further.

Utterly relaxed

Utterly relaxed

The Hilton, and most of the other luxury hotels, are located on Denarau island, which was recovered from mangrove swamps and linked by a short bridge to the mainland to form a new peninsula. There is a beach but it's not pure white sand with coral growing just offshore (we had seven pools, we survived). We decided we wanted to see at least a little bit of those postcard perfect beaches so planned on heading to the Yasawa or Mamanuca islands for our next two nights. Stretching north of Denarau, these are two island chains which must contain over 30 resorts. We had a read about our options and chose a place called Octopus Resort on the island of Waya in the southern Yasawas. It was meant to have good snorkelling, came at a relatively reasonable price and was highly recommended by guide books and review sites. The big catamaran out to Waya stopped at several other islands on the way so we got to see a few more pretty beaches from a distance. In 2.5 hours we reached our own destination and we transferred onto a little speed boat to be taken ashore. Here we were greeted by the staff, singing a welcome song, as we stepped on to the beach.

Purple coral and its chaperon

Purple coral and its chaperon

It really was a pretty spot. White beach, turquoise waters all backed by green peaks. The snorkelling was good too. You could swim over a large area of coral at high tide or follow walls when the sea was lower. We managed to catch up on generating fish photos after not taking any back on the mainland. The food and service were excellent and good value too. The resort offered a variety of activities around the island, but we kept to a simple life of sun loungers and snorkelling with a couple of massages. We did participate in the welcome kava ceremony, where we got to test the locals' favourite drink. Kava is a cold tea made from the root of the pepper tree and has anaesthetic properties – it certainly put my tongue to sleep after a few sips. We also joined a merry quiz night, which culminated with us building a human pyramid (meant to represent a Christmas tree) whilst singing “O'Christmas Tree” in German (6 out of our team were German speakers). We watched the basket weaving and the elder telling stories from afar, but the early morning hike to the summit of the island was outside parameters and was saved for another time.

Preparing the kava

Preparing the kava

All too soon we had to return to Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. We were quite happy to hear the catamaran back was running late. It meant a bit longer on the beach and our flight wasn't until the next day. The ferry eventually showed up 4 hours late and got us to port at 11pm, 6 hours late in total. A final example of Fiji time, or maybe just bad engine maintenance. We really enjoyed staying at Octopus and for anyone heading to Fiji we'd recommend getting out to any of these islands as soon as possible. You only need to hang around Denarau's resorts if you're up for total pampering (or it's free and you've been on the road for a long time). We did feel a touch guilty about not seeing more of the islands, but we were well rested and knew we'd have a busier time in Vanuatu. Click here for more photos from Fiji.

Sunset from the Yasawa Chugger

Sunset from the Yasawa Chugger

Ps: Merry Christmas all. We are now in Vanuatu, it has been busier, but Christmas day has been designated 'relaxing beach day'.

Posted by lonsdale77 21:22 Archived in Fiji

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