For me, the image of a beach immediately conjures up feelings of instant relaxation. This is what distinguishes island travel from anything else: the time to slow down and just enjoy life. There’s time to watch sunsets, spend days under the sun, explore without agenda, drink cocktails at the beach bar, or lounge under an umbrella near the ocean. All without a care in the world.
Without hesitation, my favorite island to relax on would be far away from home in Fiji, where laid back is an understatement. There’s even a running joke about Fiji time, which is much like island time, but honestly, a lot slower. At first this can be frustrating, especially to Westerners, but then it’s so easy to get used to that coming home can often be the problem. I often began to wonder, “What is wrong with America? Don’t people take the time to enjoy anything around here?”
To top off the not-a-care-in-the-world attitude, every single Fijian that we encountered was extremely friendly and went above and beyond to get to know us. From friendly waves and “bulas,” or hello, from anyone we passed to conversations with employees of the shops downtown, the Fijians are among the friendliest people in the world.
Fiji has a lot to offer it’s visitors beyond relaxation and friendly environment. We spent a day off on another island, Beachcomber, that was full of backpackers and known for partying. There we drank plenty of frozen drinks and Fiji Gold beers, while we laid out by the ocean. Then we ended the day with a banana boat ride in the choppy waters of the South Pacific, and after quite an adrenaline rush, downed a few more tropical cocktails.
But, a trip to Fiji can be much more than just a tropical vacation, it can even be a cultural experience. A quick ride up the Sigatoka River in a jet-boat and you’re on your way to experiencing true Fijian life.
This is a life much different than that on the beaches under the palm dreams watching the waves crash on the shore. This is how most Fijians grow up, in a village along the river in the mountains of the country. When the children grow up, they move to the cities to find jobs, and then return home to their village when they retire.
These villages are simple, consisting of a church, community center, and a few homes. There is no electricity and although they do not have running water, the government has set up a source of water from a spring that they can use for drinking and cooking. Life here is different. Simple. Walking around and talking to the villagers is an experience of a life-time, and learning about their life can make you appreciate all you take for granted.
Another fun activity is venturing into to town for some shopping. Our hotel was nearest to the town of Sigatoka, and there was plenty of shopping to be done along the river.
No matter what you do in Fiji, it’s all part of an experience like no other. From the people to the culture and the beauty of the country, Fiji is truly a paradise.
This post is part of BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Challenge 2012.
Week seven’s topic: Island Week! We want to hear what you love about islands, what your favorite indie travel island destination is, which island you’re most longing to see, or why you think islands evoke such strong emotions in travelers.