Warm sand, crystal clear water, friendly people. What more could one want on a vacation? Fiji was paradise. I arrived on the island of Viti Levu, on August 15th 2010 for five short days, and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the country.
After the cold end of winter in New Zealand, Fiji was a pleasant stop on the way home to the States. After waiting 45 minutes at the airport for our shuttle, we were on our way to the hotel. There is one main road along the island, and our resort, Rydges Hideaway, was halfway between Nadi and Suva. It took about an hour and a half on a bumpy, dark road, and there were fires everywhere, which was intimidating, until we discovered that the people were burning the sugar cane. When we arrived at the hotel, I was surprised to find that it was right on the main road, unlike the resorts I stayed at in Mexico and Dominican Republic.
Every person we encountered in Fiji was so incredibly friendly. They taught us words in Fijian, like Bula (hello), and my cousin and her friend taught the people words in Irish. We talked about life in Fiji versus life in America and Ireland. The people of Fiji were curious to know everything about us, and wanted to educate us about life in Fiji. It was so nice to really get to know so many people in the country.
Surprisingly, there was much to do on the islands of Fiji, more than I had experienced at other islands I’ve been to. We went shopping during the day in the town of Sigatoka, on a river safari, and spent the day on one of the many other islands that makes up Fiji. Everywhere we went, friendly people and gorgeous views followed.
Our first big adventure was taking a river safari with Sigatoka River Tours to one of the villages up the Sigatoka River. Every person we met on that tour was incredible. It was an amazing experience to see what life really is like in the villages of Fiji. On the way up the river, people are going about their daily life – children swimming, women washing their laundry, etc. Upon arriving to the village, you attend a Kava Ceremony in order to be welcomed into the village, after that you are free to explore and talk to the locals.
There was also a meal spread out in the community center for everyone, and then we danced with the people of the village. It was so great to connect to the people who lived in Fiji, not just the people who work at the hotel. On the way back, the jet boat speeds back down the river and soaks you with 360 degree turns. The perfect ending to the perfect day!
To complete our Fiji adventures, we spent one day out on Beachcomber Island. This is known as the party island, and it doesn’t disappoint. There is a barefoot bar, along with plenty of exciting beach activities, from fish feedings to para-sailing. We spent most of the time soaking up the warm sun and unbelievable views with margaritas in our hands, but we also went banana boating. It was a one-time experience considering my cousin and her friends didn’t know how to swim.
After a few more relaxing days at the resort and massages on the beach, it was almost impossible to say good-bye to this island. Never have I felt such a connection to a country and her people, as I did in Fiji. In the words of Kini, our friend at Rydges, “To meet, to know, and to depart are the saddest things in life.” Looking forward to the day I can return to paradise.