Bula! Our first island experience and one to remember. A lovely relaxing experience living on ‘Fiji Time’ with no time limits simply catching up on ourselves, reading books, catching sun and drinking cava after the whirlwind of America.
We had just 6 nights in this beautiful part of the world and it simply was not long enough. We visited in September which is essentially their winter but in comparison to our winter in England it was heaven. Beautiful blue skies everyday with warm temperatures, occasionally the wind would pick up but it was a well welcomed breeze in the heat. When planning our time in Fiji it was confusing as there are so many different areas and places to see. Fiji consists of the mainland which is split into two parts; Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and is then surrounded by 900 small islands, yes 900! So if you were thinking of Island hopping the whole of Fiji, think again unless you have a lot of time on your hands. The islands are split into 2 regions; Mamanuca and Yasawa. The Mamanuca region is closer to the mainland so easier and cheaper to travel. Some say the Yasawa region is more beautiful due to its tropical forests and greenery but we cannot judge as we spent our time in the Mamanuca’s. This was due to our limited time. If you want to travel up to the Yasawa region you can by boat or flight. Flights are very expensive and although the boat isn’t cheap it is the cheaper option.
On the mainland you will arrive in Nadi, Viti Levu at the airport. We stayed in Nadi around a 20 minute drive from the airport in a great little hostel called The Tropic of Capricon. A private double room here cost £30pn including airport transfers and it is just what you need; very simple, cheap and right on the beach. There isn’t much around here apart from a few other hostels with bars. The beach isn’t great at all but just wait until you get to the islands. We recommend just one night at the beginning and end of your trip here. If you do have some time visit Natadola beach, around 1hr drive from the hostel. Catch the sunsets in Nadi around 6:30pm they are pretty special.
When going to the islands try to book a package that includes transfers and food otherwise it can be very expensive when booked separately. If you are considering an ‘island hopping’ package do some research as we haven’t heard great things about these. After much deliberation we decided to visit Mana Island for 3 nights and embark on day trips to see other islands rather than staying on different islands as it worked out quite expensive.
On Mana Island we stayed at The Ratu Kini Dive Resort, one of the 3 resorts on this small island. We paid FJ$257pp which included return transfers, (boat and car to and from destination) a private double room, dinner, lunch, breakfast and free kayak, paddle board and snorkelling equipment. We thought this was a great deal and it was so worth it. The accommodation is basic but it is kept clean and the food is good. Nice filling meals consisting of western and local foods, they even cooked to my gluten free needs. There is wifi but the electricity is shut off between 3-5pm everyday as the whole island is run on a generator. These two hours are lovely and peaceful on the island. There is a bar in the restaurant but due to the chilled out nature of the island everyone was off to bed by 11pm and up early to catch another wonderful day of island life.
The resort it set right on the white sands and clear waters of the beach and surrounded by the local village. Around 500 people live on this island fishing or selling merchandise to tourists in order to survive. These people really do not have much in comparison to us from the Western world. They don’t own shoes and eat the same meal day in day out; mango, cassava and fish as it doesn’t cost them a penny. No body walks round with an iPhone or an iPad and these people are the happiest and most friendly, welcoming people we have met on our travels so far. Their kind nature will always stay with us.
Things to do on Mana Island:
Relax on the beach
Snorkel off the beach
Walk around the island (some areas are restricted due to other resorts)
Walk up to the look out point, try this at night to catch the Milky Way around 9pm. Also walk up for sunset 6:30pm and sunrise 5:30am it takes about 15 minutes
Join in a locals rugby match around 6pm every night. No shoes allowed
Pop by the local school to meet the wonderful children and see how and where they learn
Check out the four different religious churches
Moments like these will stick with you forever so don't be afraid to jump in at the deep end!
In order to explore the islands around us we booked a day trip with South Sea Cruises. We choose the Sea Spray day tour. The trip cost $239pp and it was such a brilliant day. A full day out on the boat visiting other islands which included breakfast, a delicious BBQ lunch (accommodated for gluten free), snorkelling equipment and even live acoustic music for the ride home. We visited Modriki Island where the legendary cast away movie was filmed and the remote Yanuya Island where only locals lived. Here we were greeted with a Cava ceremony and a tour which gave us even more of an insight into have Fijians live.
Other islands recommended to us were Beachcomber, Treasure and Bounty so maybe research into these.
In Nadi eat at hostel as it’s so much cheaper
Book transfer package to islands as taxi boats can be expensive
Drink fresh coconuts everyday
Girls where flowers in your hair
Visit Yasawa region
Relax on ‘Fiji Time’
With love from the globe,
Isabelle & George x
Currently in Bali.