I knew I would love Fiji and I was right. While planning my accommodation, I was initially going to stay with a couchsurfer because I felt Fiji might be one of those countries where you need someone from there to show you around in order to have a great time. However as my trip got closer, I didn’t feel like staying with anyone and I was skeptical of the hostels I saw on hostelworld. My thinking was that an hostel can’t be good in Fiji because Fiji is luxurious. Boy, was I wrong.
Anyways my initial plan was to stay at a resort for 2 nights, go on a overnight tour and return to the resort for my last night. I also wanted to explore the Nadi area without navigating public transport, so I searched for an affordable tour online. I found one via TripAdvisor – ToursByLocals, I contacted Ryan and we agreed on a price. I also asked him to pick me up from the airport since his airport transfer rate was cheaper than the resort rate. By the way, I would recommend Ryan of ToursByLocal. As always, agreed on price and what is included in the package beforehand. This prevents misunderstanding.
Day 1: I got picked up from the airport. The distance from the airport in Nadi is not far from Denarau – where the resort is located. Denarau Island is reclaimed land and houses several resorts like Sofitel, Hilton, Best western and so on. A few residential houses are also in Denarau. Since my flight got in pretty late, I went to bed shortly after arriving at my resort.
Day 2: I woke up to amazing view. Breakfast was great. My city tour with Ryan started around 11am. We went to a local village, then the Hindu Temple. The temple is colorful and beautiful. After that, we proceeded to the local market where I got to try Kava for the first time. Kava is a traditional ceremonial drink in Fiji made from root of a herbal plant. It has no sweet taste and your tongue feels numbs afterwards. There is also a process to the Kava ceremony. It is rude to decline the first kava drink given to you by your host. When given to you, you clap once and say ‘Bula’ (warm greetings), you drink it then clap three times and say Vinaka (thank you). You can watch the video of the man preparing the Kava drink here.
After the local market, we went to a botanical garden surrounded by a mountain that looks like a two sleeping giants hence the name of the garden – The Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The garden is beautiful and have a walking trail. If you are not into gardens, you can skip it. The last site for the day was the Mud pool and hot springs. Here, your inner child comes out. You rub mud on your body, let it dry and get into a slightly muddy water to rinse off. You then go into three other pools (hot spring) to rinse off. I opted for a 30mins massage afterwards – it was good. Don’t compared the hot springs to that of Guatemala. You wouldn’t be impressed if you do.
Before returning to the resort, I had a delicious dinner at a local restaurant – Tu’s Place. Most delicious food I ate in Fiji.
Day 3: I was suppose to go on an overnight trip with pick up at 6.45am. Somehow I managed to miss the pick up. I called 10mins after the pick up time but they couldn’t come back. Oh well. I managed to get on a similar tour but not overnight for the following day. I decided to move to one of the hostels (saving money). I choose Bamboo House – the online review was great and locals said it was a better choice for hostel. The view at Bamboo is great. They have a restaurant, swimming pool, tour desk and bar on site. I stayed in a female dorm with bathroom en-suite. I paid USD$15/night. They do have private room available. I think the price is USD$30/night. Affordable!!.
I just chilled at the beach. The hostel is right on the beach.
Day 4: I was picked up at 6.45am for the tour. The tour starts in Namosi near the Navau river which is about 2 hours away from Nadi. We picked up people from various resorts on our way there. Once there, we boarded a boat to the first stop of the tour. The boat ride was about 45 minutes, we finally got to the waterfalls – stunning!. After the waterfalls, we got on a bamboo rafting for a few minutes before continuing the tour to a village at the Namosi highlands.
At the village, we were shown where our lunch was being prepared – underground oven called a lovo! We were led into the village’s community center where a welcoming ceremony was performed. You can watch the ceremony here. After that, we had lunch – tasty! The women of the village have a great varieties of arts & craft. I got some earrings.
Eventful day it was. We made the long ride back to Nadi. At the hostel, I joined some local guys and folks staying at the hostel for Kava and music.
Day 5: Oh, on day 3, I met Jade. She was staying at the hostel and we found out we were both going to Samoa on the same day. I rode with Jade in the afternoon to the airport. The check in line was pretty long.
5 Things I Learned from Fiji:
- I know most picture we see of Fiji smells LUXURY!!!! It doesn’t have to be. There are other types of accommodation such as mid-range and budget resort an hour or so away from Nadi/Denarau, Airbnb and Hostels.
- Renting a car will give you better flexibility to see the country.
- You don’t have to book your tours in advance. Actually, it’s better and might be cheaper not to. Your resort, hotel, Airbnb and hostel all have a travel/tour desk where you have varieties to pick from or create your own. The prices are mostly better than online ones.
- Try the Kava. It wouldn’t kill you.
- You don’t need a lover, spouse, significant other to enjoy Fiji. You can enjoy it as a solo traveler :).
P.s, Bula is a greeting in the Fijian language.