While I really enjoyed New Zealand, I couldn't wait to get to the island of Fiji for some warmer weather and beach time. We left Auckland around 8am on Tuesday and arrived in Nadi, Fiji by 11. We were greeted by natives singing some island songs and quickly made our way through customs. We grabbed a shuttle to our first destination, Bamboo Travelers. It was about a 15 minute ride from the airport and we were able to check into our room soon after arriving. Our room was oceanfront and right by the pool.
They had a restaurant and bar there, so we didn't really have a need to leave. That night we had dinner and played beer pong with 2 English guys and a girl from Russia. It's so interesting meeting people from all over the world and hearing their traveling stories and backgrounds. We also tried Kava for the first time. It's a local, natural Fijian drink made from a root that makes you feel all good inside! It's not really alcoholic but can have "hallucinagenic powers"...or just makes your tongue numb and you sleep well. Didn't taste super great (kind of like dirt) but we had to give it a try.
Janie quickly made a friend with one of the dive instructors, who offered us a discount on a half day of snorkeling and a boat ride out to Cloud 9 ($75 US dollars). Snorkeling was great, but exhausting! We saw a few schools of fish and a 5 foot shark. Cloud 9 is a floating restaurant (about 1000 square feet) and they serve cocktails and wood-fired pizza only. I'd say maybe 50 people can fit there at one time? But the water was the bluest, clearest water I had ever seen...clearer than a pool. There was nothing around it for miles (we were shocked to learn they had free wifi!)
We hung out, ate, and relaxed on Cloud 9 for about 2 hours before heading back to the main island. Unfortunately, the water was pretty rough and I got sea sick for the first time ever (first time throwing up in about 10 years too...I blame the beer pong the night before). We made it back around 3pm and I laid down for a while to recover. We had dinner and hung out with yet another English fellow (we've met more British people than any other nationality).
Thursday morning, we were picked up and taken on a 45 minute boat ride out to a small island called Mana Island. We stayed at a dive resort called Ratu Kini. Our room was maybe 20 yards from the water. We were greeted by locals playing guitar and were immediately on "Fiji Time!" No rush, no worries.
It was such a steal! We had private rooms, bathrooms, and AC...snorkeling gear and all meals included for 3 days, and ran us about $150 US total each. Who says traveling has to be expensive? Just need to look for places where our dollar is strong (it's about $2 Fiji dollars for $1 US dollar at the moment). We laid out for a bit, browsed some of the homemade jewelry for sale, ate lunch, had some pina coladas, went for a walk and snorkeld a bit. We also got beach massages! It was $20 Fiji dollars for 30 minutes ($10 USD)...what a deal! We had dinner and participated in another Kava ceremony.
There was another resort right next door where our English friends from the night before were staying so we walked over and hung out with their group for a bit before calling it a night.
Friday, we woke up and went snorkeling on the other side of the island. You can walk around the entire place in less than 2 hours, so a quick 30 minute cut through brought us to Sunset Beach where the snorkeling was amazing! We felt like we were in Finding Nemo. We swam out about 150 yards to a huge drop off. Going from 5 feet deep to immediately not seeing the bottom is a tad scary, but worth it! We made it back for lunch and then the wind really picked up. We wound up hanging on the porch with our friends playing games. It was so nice not having wifi for a few days...people were forced to socialize and it felt like we were kids again. That night after dinner, we went to bed by 9:30. Snorkeling and the sun zaps ya!
Saturday, Janie left for an early flight, so we hung around until 11-12ish to see her off. After lunch, Korie, me, and our friend Matt walked to another beach to snorkel again...still awesome but not quite as cool as Sunset Beach's drop off! We tried to go back there but it was already mid-afternoon by then and the wind and current had really picked up. We decided not to risk it and went back to our beach, which was the calmer side of the island that night.
We were thrilled to learn that the staff would be performing Fiji Night entertainment for us on our last night there. The men did some traditional Fijian dances and chants, along with a fire and knife show!
We all agreed we highly recommend Ratu Kini to anyone going to Fiji and hope to return some day. Everyone was extremely friendly and knew you by name. We left Sunday afternoon for a 6pm flight back to Melbourne.
I loved traveling around NZ and Fiji, but part of me missed Melbourne a bit! 3 weeks of constant travel can be exhausting, but I saw so much. Now it's time to move into our apartment next week and start job searches...and plan our next trip!