Okay, this is an entire country, not a city - I know. But considering I spent one full day here and saw a good (yet small) glimpse of what the city could offer, I feel I could easily write this post which I’m happily doing on a rare couple of hours of downtime here in New Zealand.
So let’s begin.
What started out as a simple idea of going to Australia expanded to me tacking on Fiji and New Zealand just for shits and giggles. I figured out well, since I was already on this side of the world, why not? Fiji was a hop and a skip away across the pond so the smart idea was to get up and go. And coming out of a fresh breakup, I was desperate for some quality time reserved for me, myself and I.
Now, Fiji. I flew here over on Fiji Airways from LAX, a cool 11.5 hour flight. I arrived early in the morning and had a full 24-hours to explore. When deciding on where to stay, I reluctantly booked a stay at the Sheraton Denarau Villas. Honestly, it was a toss up between that and staying on the ever-luxurious Nanuku down in the south but the two-hour drive would have killed me. The villas, I would say were definitely geared towards families. Heck, my two-bedroom villa featured a king bed and two double beds - so much space! A low 4-star at best, the villas were definitely overdue for a refurb. However, since I was staying for a quick overnight, Denarau Island made the most practical sense to me.
Denarau Island is a complete tourist resort complex situated right by Port Denarau and the ferry terminals. It is home to ten resorts including the Westin, Wyndham, Hilton, Sheraton and more. With American chains around you can expect this to be a complete tourist trap island with the prices to match. Being confined to a resort area was obviously not my first choice but due to time constraints it just made sense. And since I am not a beach person or resort gal, a one-night stint was perfect for me.
After a leisurely three hours of pool-hopping, I had to get out. It was 1:00pm and what was I to do? Luckily for me, I was seated beside a Fiji Airways pilot, Vitu, who was flying home to Fiji and had offered to take me around the island. What luck, I thought to myself. Naturally, I happily accepted his offer and gave him a call.
You have to understand that on the island, everyone is on Fiji time. Everything from service to airport check-ins to flight departures, you can expect things to run a little behind. It was very leisurely. Vitu was late but honestly, I didn’t mind - it wasn’t like I had an actual itinerary planned.
I had originally planned on venturing out to Nadi on my own but since I was getting a local’s tour, I really couldn't complain. The town was nothing to write home about but it provided a decent glimpse into how the locals live. Venturing out into Lautoka, the largest city on the island, wasn't anything spectacular either. There wasn’t anything that was missed. In fact, it might be well worth your time to the excursions (ie. island-hopping snorkelling, zip lining, etc.) if you are interested. Since it was blazing hot outside, we grabbed some kokoda, a Fijian specialty where fish is cooked with a citrus juice and coconut milk and caught a movie at the local cinema. The air conditioning was well-received by both of us.
The only place I would recommend stopping by or even staying in was Wailoaloa Beach. Otherwise known as “traveler’s beach”, many hostels and three-star hotels may be found here. It was super chill with the best island vibes I had felt on my entire trip. We walked along the long stretch of beach and watched the fiery-red sunset disappear into the water. It was one of the most mesmerizing sunsets I’ve seen in my life and a perfect ending to my short but sweet trip to Fiji.
Getting around Fiji:
Car - I lucked out here and had someone drive me around. Traffic isn’t bad here and the roads seem fine. You can rent a vehicle at Nadi International Airport (NAN) or Naosori International Airport (SUV). It really is the best way to get around the island.
Westbus - I was originally intending to take this cheap $1 bus into town. Even though I didn’t take it, I saw many of these busses roaming around town. These take you into Nadi and through to Denarau Island within Port Denarau. If you want to ride a local, try this option out!
Taxi - No vehicle? No problem. If you’re staying in Denarau, the taxi option is $30 + tip. Be aware that there is a taxi monopoly for taxis residing in Denarau and the taxi fare from the island to NAN will be $45 + tip. Taxi fares do add up but if this isn’t a concern, this would be your best option!
What to do in Fiji:
I wouldn’t feel fair writing a whole part on this since I hardly did anything that a typical tourist would do since I had met someone by chance on the plane that lived there! Honestly, people go to Fiji to veg out, island hop and go on excursions as mentioned above. If anything, do go see the sunset (from anywhere on the island in Fiji, really). Wailoaloa Beach was my favourite spot on the entire island if you wanted to stay somewhat closely to Denarau Islands.
What to eat in Fiji;
This is unfair to write as well since I only had fresh fruit and kokoda (hey, when it’s THAT hot that’s all you really want to eat). Kava is another very traditional drink and brain stimulant and they feature kava tastings in Denarau and elsewhere on the island; however, I’ve had this before in Hawaii and it isn’t my drink of choice but be adventurous and brave and try it! Indian food is also popular on the island due to the large amount of Indo-FIjian population on the island so I’d imagine curries are to die for as well.
Although my trip was short, it was a nice break and I am glad that I was fortunate enough to see the contrast between the resort version of Fiji and the authentic version. I must say, the best part of my trip were the people. I had met the warmest people and it all started on my plane ride there and ending to the wonderful agent at the airport. In true Sia fashion, this trip was gone in a flash. Until next time, Fiji!