Recently I have been to Fiji, and let me tell you, I have never experienced something quite like it before. The beaches, the people and the lifestyle appealed to me in every way possible. My favourite thing about Fiji was the sunsets. The sunsets I saw here compare to no other I have ever seen before. They were truly spectacular as you can tell from the photos attached. The best sunset happened on my first night on the island and it was just something else, the sky melted away in front of my eyes into a beautiful pink all over my head. Normally the sunsets I have seen before happen over the horizon in the distance, but not this one, this happened right over my head engulfing me into the Fijian magic.
One of my regrettable traits about myself is that, near enough always, I am late to everything. I am late to classes, appointments and even when I am doing things I want to do like meeting up with my friends. I could know about an event weeks in advance and I will still find a way to be late to it. I’m not proud of this but it happens. But being in Fiji made me fit right into the island way of living as everyone lived by ‘Fiji time’. Fiji time is their saying when nothing is punctual. The Ferry is late to pick you up? Fiji time. Dinner was supposed to be served at 6pm, but you’re still waiting at 6:45? Fiji time. It made me feel at home. What I liked most about it was that there wasn’t a rush or stress for anything. Being at home we are all rushing about trying to do things to deadlines that we forget to enjoy the moment, for this reason I am adopting ‘Fiji time’ and using it at home.
The main industry on the islands is the tourism industry which employs the most amount of Fijians. The locals travel from their outer islands to work on the main tourist resorts and then send money back home to their family and loved ones.
I went island hopping in Fiji around just a few of the 300+ islands there are to visit. The resorts I visited were Southsea Island (much better than Southsea, Portsmouth), Wayalailai, White Sandy Beach and Nabua Lodge. I also spent a few days on the main island Nadi (pronounced Na’n’di) which I only did as I have a family friend who lives there. If I was by myself completely I don’t think I would have spent any time there as most things you need a car to get to and there’s not that much to do on the main island.
Southsea island is the smallest island I visited, we arrived to the island via ferry and when we turned up everyone looked at each other saying ‘what are we going to do on this island for 2 days?!’. We quickly learnt that you could walk from one side of the island to the other within a matter of minutes. How were we all going to find enough things to do to fill 2 whole days? We easily managed it though.
There were many free activites. I went stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving for free. One of my favourite memories happened at this island. I went on a free snorkelling session to one of the nearby reefs on a boat and got talking to the scuba diving instructor. At the end of the snorkelling session he asked me if I wanted to go scuba diving which I replied ‘I do, but it depends on how much it costs’. I didn’t want to waste my money having already done scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and on top of this, it was coming to the end of my travels so I wanted to save my pennies. The man told me not to worry about money and to come back to the store at 5pm when his boss had gone. Of course I wasn’t going to say no to this offer so I waited until 5pm to go back. 5pm came around and I went back to the shop, the mans boss was still there so I had to pretend I wanted to go snorkelling which was included in the islands free activities. 30 minutes later I returned again to a boss free shop. The man made me sign a waiver to say I was medically fit and hadn’t had alcohol in the past 8 hours, I may have told a slight lie as I had a few vodka lemonades in that time but what difference was that going to make… right? When you go scuba diving you have to wear a weighted belt to stop yourself from floating off and are able to go to the bottom of the ocean. The man must have thought I was heavier than I really am as I kept floating off while holding onto him. He stopped us, took both our belts off so he had all the weights on him so he could give me some of his weights. I was holding onto him, upside down at the bottom of the Fijian ocean, trying not to float off. At the time I thought it was hilarious and was trying to stop myself from laughing and drowning in the water, looking back it probably wasn’t the safest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Unsafe but the best memory I have from my trip.
Wayalailai was the second island I visited and this is when we were on the outskirts of a cyclone. The weather wasn’t that great, however this resort was more about the culture rather than relaxing. I had to get 2 boats to this island and on the second boat I got absolutely drenched from the huge waves we were trying to dodge on this tiny rickety boat. I arrived on the island looking like I swam from the previous island completely suffering from sea sickness… not my best look. This resort was very family based and all the native people to the island worked in the resort for a living. On this island I met lots of adorable Fijian children of whom I envied. There were no dangers on this island and there was no technology, they were all running about playing as children should do. They were free.
The third island resort I visited was White Sandy beach which was my favourite resort. This was the resort I felt like I fitted in the most as all the staff were about my age. It made me feel more comfortable. There were also so many activities at this resort, I danced, hand line fished, visited Honeymoon beach, played volleyball, watched fire shows and most importantly relaxed. A drink that is a huge part within the Fijian culture is Kava which is effectively mud water. The drink is made out of roots and there is this whole ceremony to drinking it. The drink stems from their history when they used to give it to the men after a long day of working in the fields to make them tired to get a good nights sleep for the next day at work. They now drink it to basically get drunk. At 11pm I was the only tourist sat with a whole group of locals drinking kava until 2am. I had about 8 cups of the drink and none of which had any effect on me whatsoever. They were all discussing about how drunk they were and I had no idea what was going on. Again this is one of my favourite memories spending all this time with them learning about their culture.
The final resort I went to was Nabua lodge which again was amazing. The food here was the best I had on all the islands although it did take about 5 years to turn up. Here I visited a church service as nothing runs on Sundays as they are all very religious. It is worth baring this in mind if you ever go to Fiji as this stops a whole day of activities. At this island I went reef hopping and snorkelled at all the stops. Here I saw the BEST corals I have ever seen, it definitely topped the Great Barrier Reef. The corals were so full of life and colours with many variations of fish swimming in between. At the last reef we went to a ship wreck which was more like a shit wreck because you couldn’t even see the thing at the bottom of the sea. None of us were bothered though as the whole trip cost £5. After the snorkel trip we visited the tea shop which is one of the main business attractions at the resort. It’s a locally run business where one woman everyday bakes a different flavoured cake and makes tea all for £1. Absolute bargain. On my final day here we went cave diving which was so cool. You had to dive under a rock in the dark holding your breath to get into the caves and we were able to launch ourselves off the rocks into the water. It was such an amazing experience.
After all my stops at the islands I went back to Nadi and spent a couple of days here. It was here in Fiji I experienced one of the best nights out I have ever been on and then followed by one of the worst hangovers I have ever had. The drinks are so cheap in Fiji that you can afford so much. They are big drinkers of rum and Fiji bitter (beer), both of which are so nice, hence the hangover.
I had made amazing memories and amazing friends and then it was time to say goodbye to Fiji. To top off the whole experience, there was the whole of the Fijian rugby team on my flight (they all love playing rugby), and one of them was sat next to me!