Bula! This time last year I was sunning myself on the islands of Fiji and it feels like a lifetime ago. In honour of Fiji Day (10th October!) I wanted to show you why Fiji should definitely be on your travel to-do list! And it gives me a chance to reminisce…
1) The Island Life is the best life
You’ve probably heard a lot about the island hopping trips you can book yourself onto and it’s definitely the best way to see more of Fiji and enjoy the beaches and local culture.
Each island has it’s own vibe and the people on each welcome you in different ways, with different traditions. I booked my island hopping adventure through Peter Pans and was on the 9 day tour of four islands – South Sea Island, Wayalailai, White Sandy Beach and Nabua Lodge. I also got to visit Beachcomber as part of my Feejee Experience tour.
2) Soak up what the mainland has to offer
Vitu Livu (the main island of Fiji) is usually just used as entry to the islands and lots of people miss out on what it has to offer! I booked onto the Feejee Experience for a 4 day trip around the whole of the island which included a trip to Suva, the capital city, a school which had been affected by the hurricane and the warm mud pools. It was enlightening and interesting and I’m so happy I got to experience it all.
3) The Views
The stunning contrast of white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters were so picture perfect and ‘pinch-me’ and the sunsets were to die for. Anyway, these pictures can do most of the talking…
4) The people
The Fijian people are by far some of the friendliest I’ve met. I loved learning about their culture, their lives on the islands and hearing all of their stories. You walk down the street and everyone is saying ‘Bula!’, smiling and waving! I spoke to one of the men who ran the boat transfers from ferry to mainland and it was fascinating to hear about the financial divide and how his brother went into the army to send money home to his family. Another lady who ran a kindergarten on the island, ran a small tea shop where she made cakes and served tea every day. All money raised went towards the kindergarten and it was so adorable and heart warming.
5) The culture
Definitely get involved in a traditional Kava ceremony. This involves sitting together and enjoying water mixed with the root of a kava plant. It tastes and looks like muddy water, but it numbs your lips and has a calming effect, making you feel mellow and happy! I was lucky enough to be in Fiji for Fiji Day itself, so had an amazing kava experience with an island community, playing games, dancing to music and enjoying their traditions.
We were treated to a traditional Fijian feast in one of the remote villages on the main island, made by the mothers of the community during our Feejee Experience. It included these amazing fried potato cakes, a lovely dip made from the reeds in the river (sounds gross but imagine raita) and delicious chicken and seaweed rolls. On the islands, they all serve up local foods and homegrown produce. It’s back to the simple life and it feels so good to embrace the natural goodness of their land and not eat processed crap.
I backpacked Fiji on a budget and at times it was tough. The resorts are basic (cold shower anyone!?) but the memories will stay with me forever. It wasn’t the accommodation that I will remember, it’s the people, the experiences and the relaxing days spent on the golden beaches drinking from fresh coconuts.
If I were to go back, it would be with more money and with more of an idea of where I want to go. Choose your islands wisely, do your research but most importantly don’t forget to embrace every moment and ENJOY IT!
With love and shaking my coconuts,