Fiji Island Tour.
by ANKITA MAGDANI1 MIN AGO
We travelled to Fiji in September 2013. We were planning to travel to a quiet, mesmerizing and less explored destination, when Fiji crossed our mind, and this island country surprisingly went beyond all our expectations. FIJI ISLAND TOUR, is the perfect romantic honeymoon destination, backpacking destination, for the extravagant and the budget traveller, for marine lovers and the beach bums. In a nutshell, Fiji is a package that fits all.
FIJI ISLAND TOUR:
The Fiji islands is one of the most exotic island destinations in the world. This tiny island country comprises of more than 330 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited and more than 500 islets, all of which offers the prefect holiday destination for all globe trotters. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Fiji is part os the Polynesian islands and is very well connected with Brisbane and Sydney in Australia and Auckland,New Zealand by air. Since we are Indian nationals, it was easier for us to transit through Hong Kong and fly straight to Nadi, avoid hassles of transit visas and avail of the generous 4 months valid visa on arrival into Fiji. The FIJI ISLAND TOUR, we will focus on, will be the YASAWA ISLANDS.
What is The Yasawa Island:
The Yasawa stretch of islands lies on the North-West Corridor of the main island Viti Levu which is the largest island in the Republic of Fiji, and houses the national capital city of Suva and the second largest city of Nadi.
Why The Yasawa Island:
Yasawa islands are away from civilization, commercialization and mobile phone receptions, all of which make it the untouched islands, and undoubtedly, these islands are the most picturesque offerings from Fiji. These islands also offer a range of accommodations and various water activities and local entertainment.
How to get to Yasawa Island:
There are two ways to access the Yasawa Islands. By sea planes and the Yasawa Flyer Island ferry. We chose to stick to the Yasawa Flyer so that we could stay close to the wilderness. However, if you want to experience the aerial view of the stunning lagoons, you will have to shell out some extra cash and ride the sea planes. Let’s start our FIJI ISLAND TOUR!!!
First day at Nadi
After landing at Nadi International Airport, and being welcomed by a traditional Fijian performance and a loud BULA (“Hello” in Fijian), we found a kiosk operated by Awesome Adventures Fiji. Since we had heard a lot about this company before arriving at Fiji, we approached them without any hesitation. This company had various packages to offer for a week or fortnight, with a variety of stay and activity options.
As we had the liberty of time, we opted for their BULA COMBO PASS, which was valid for a fortnight. The best part about the Bula Pass was that we could choose to hop to as many islands as one likes using the Yasawa Island Ferry, however, stay options were limited to six resort vouchers depending on your choice.
Note: Indifferent to the rest of the world, Fijians have their own local resort grading systems. There are no star rating, instead they categorize accommodations as 1 coconut and 2 coconuts. Irrespective of what coconut your choose, all resorts offer a choice of backpackers, lodges and bures (pronounced ‘boo-rays’, means a small thatched hut offering more privacy).
Typically, 1 coconut properties are very basic, you will be expected to carry your own towels, soaps and other amenities. So if your are fussy with hot water, air conditioned rooms and amenities, these are not for you. The water supply is tepid and the air is naturally conditioned. These properties are owned and run by local Fijian Islanders who love hosting and sharing their lives with the guests. The meals provided here are not gourmet, but made from local produce, fresh catch and are very filling.
The 2 coconut properties are more modern, offering higher standards of accommodation and amenities, but still with a strong Fijian flavour. Ownership and management of these properties is a mix of Fijian and European, with Fijian staff. There’s aircon or fans during generator operating hours. Meals are generally more varied with more courses and of a higher standard than one coconut properties.
So for the first night we were put up in a hotel in Nadi and our Island Tour would begin the next morning. All of this was included in our Bula Combo Pass.
Tip: It is always advisable to stock up water and basic nibbles in your bags as the islands have very limited resources. Also, the resort meal timings are very specific, like breakfast is served from 9 am to 10 am only and nothing to eat if you get hungry before lunch is served at 1 pm. There are no banks and cash machines at the islands. A daily cash expenditure of $30-$40 can be expected depending on the activities you choose. The last cash machines and supermarket is at Port Denarau, from where the island ferry departs. We got a bit overboard and also carried a couple of crates of beer with us, which later turned out to be a blessing as alcohol is fairly expensive at the islands.
1st Island: Nacula Island Blue Lagoon (2 nights)
After we finished breakfast at our hotel, we were picked up by a coach at around 07:00 am for our travel to Port Denarau where we checked in for our island ferry. Be mindful as there is a weight limitation for each piece of luggage checked into the ferry.
The ferry’s routing was such that it would travel northbound till the northernmost island of Nacula where sits the stunningly beautiful Blue Lagoon resort, our first island stay. On its way, the ferry would hop at all the island resorts in the Yasawa Islands, allowing us a view if the island from a distance, and decide on our potential stays for the next 15 days. The ferry cruised through some stunningly beautiful lagoons and islands where everyone was up for a lot of visual treat of the coolest blue waters, colorful corals and marine life. We also spotted a Hammerhead shark in the wild on the very first day.++++++++++++
After a 5 hour cruise, we reached Blue Lagoon Resort, our first island stay.
Blue Lagoon Resort: Here, our stay was booked at a beach facing Bure, the view out of which was something like this +++++ . This resort is a 2 coconut property, internationally operated with Fijian staff. Well maintained with all comfortable amenities, lots of water activities at offer.
Activities of this island: A great place to get scuba diving lessons and go scuba diving as neighboring island resorts offer scuba diving at blue lagoon island with additional transfer charges. Another must do here is their cave snorkeling and during the day, the whole island is at your disposal to snorkel and kayak. At the end of the buffet, the hotel staff would entertain guests with Fijian art forms.
However, we had a bit of an unprofessional experience with them as the next morning we were asked to move to a different Bure to accommodate their frequent guest in their favorite Bure. During our 2 days stay, food was consistently served cold at buffets. Anyways, the local guides who took us out for cave snorkeling compensated for the stay.+++++++++++++++
2nd Island: Naviti Island White Sandy Beach (2 nights.):
After experiencing some luxury at the blue lagoon resort we start our journey south bound to our next island stop the White Sandy Beach at Naviti Island. Unlike the Blue Lagoon Resort White Sandy Beach Resort is a 1 coconut property, however, arrival into this island was very warm as the local villagers welcomed us with a traditional island song followed by a loud BULA!!!!! The rooms were not as luxurious however were more rooted. The food was quite traditional & always served hot. There is a provisional store where you can find pack of noodles, biscuits, & some snack to suffice your mid meal hunger. The beach is open to snorkeling & kayaking.
Activities from this island: Manta Ray snorkeling. As mid- meals the resort staff would climb up the coconut trees to bring down some fresh coconuts for the guest & also perform acrobatics skills on the trees.
White Sandy beach resort sits on the western perimeter of the Naviti island & has access to over a mile of WHITE SAND BEACH. Our 2 days were spent snorkeling around the island, manta ray snorkeling, lying around the hammock, gazing at the sunsets.
3rd Island: Matacawa Levu Island Long Beach Resort (3 nights).
As the name suggest this was actually a Long Beach. Long Beach is located at a channel between two islands, & experiences dramatic high & low tides. During low tide the whole channel would would actually dry out & you could walk between the 2 islands. During the high tides the water would be waist high.
Activities of this island: Free walking village tour & mantra ray snorkeling which we did not do as is was the same place as white sandy beach. The evening before & after dinner were always entertained by 2 boys at the hotel. In reality these boys were multi talented. From showing acrobatics to serving food for lunch & dinner, being tour guides & performing traditional dance forms which were engaging with the guests.
Something remarkable & nostalgic we remember from this resort is that they would summon upon the guest by beating up a hollow wood bark to indicate that the food was ready to be served. The chef here was so kind, that when he learnt I preferred vegetarian food, he cooked up a variety of vegan meals & dessert.
4th Island Waya Lai Lai: Waya Lai Lai Island Resort. (3 nights).
This Island resort did not have a very significant beach, however it sat on a cliff offering & elevated view of the sea. This resort was locally operated & out of all the other islands they had a fairly higher occupancy & also their food buffet spread was the best. The arrangement was on a huge patio overlooking the sea, where they would also organize engaging games & activities for guest before dinner.
Activities from this island: Reef shark snorkeling & harpoon fishing.
5th Island: South Sea Island (1 night).
This is a very tiny island. As you could walk around the circumference in 15 minutes. The south sea island resort is a typical hostel with multiple bunks & common toilets. This resort does not have any bures. This is very typically for the back packing cloud. The resort did not have much to offer with regards to activities, however it is used as a transit for people who have booked for the Castaway Island days trips. The resort offered a free 10 minute glass bottom boat tour that took us around the island to experience the marine life.
Castaway Island: This is a super luxury island resort, & offers day trips to traveller’s allowing them to access their facilities. The tour included gears for all water activities like snorkeling goggles, kayaks, wind surf boards life jackets etc. buffet Lunch was included as a part of the tour. This day trip was a great way to explore the expensive south Mamanuca Islands & this ends our island tour as we got dropped at Port Denarau.
On the last day of the boat trip, we still had 3 days before our holidays end, hence we planned a 3 days road trip to the capital city Suva. On the boat we got to talking with a Fijian, who knew a local car rental. The car was ready when we arrived at the port.
Distance between Nadi To Suva: 193km/ 120miles. 3hours 18 mins.
The Drive was through the scenic windy coastal roads. It is recommended to do this journey during the day time as it is difficult to handle windy roads in the dark. Having said that drive through the night was however safe.
Arriving in suva we checked in a budget hotel. Next Day we went around the city center. This city is like any other capital city with lot of population & commercialization. Suva also houses one of the major ports of the country. Life in Suva was an absolute contrast to Fiji’s island life.
The next day we drove back to Nadi during the day time & the drive was very scenic. We stopped as numours scenic spot for pictures. We spotted a beautiful sea side restaurants where we stopped for lunch. The pizza was surprisingly delicious.
Cost for the trip: I will give you the total I spend for 15 days for 2 people which included all of the above activities, stay & car rental, in 2013, was USD 3500, Prices are very likely to have hiked now, but, still way reasonable compared to Maldives for example.
This marked the end of our unwinding trip to Fiji. The island life thought us to be content with the bare minimums & be resourceful. We would choose Fiji over any other commercialized island destination, as it is still untouched, rooted, has colourful marine life & beautiful people.
Hope you have enjoyed reading. Please feel free to share your experience with us. We would like to be a part of your trip through pictures. Subscribe & Follow us on instagram or on our facebook page littleofeverythingtravel for more updates on our upcoming posts & don’t forget to share on #taletrips.
Enjoy & Safe travels.