Island Life

Fiji Travel Blog

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After leaving the US out of LA, my first destination was Fiji. I was happy to get out of LA and have some Fiji-time to myself but I was also a little apprehensive and nervous due to this being my first time traveling abroad. After a long (13 hour) flight, we landed in Nadi, Fiji. We got off the plane and were greeted by singing Fijians...kind of gimicky but welcoming none the less. We continued on into the airport, exchanged some money, and were approached by someone who told us they will help us plan our travel time there. I declined because I was on a budget and I figured it would be some high-priced scam that they try to pull on ignorant backpackers. But they assured me that it was completely free and that all I had to do was listen to what they suggested and leave if I didn't want to do that. I finally agreed since I had no idea where to go from the airport anyways. I sat down with some other backpackers in a room as the travel agent suggested that we get out of Nadi and go visit the outer islands (Yasawas and Mamanucas). It sounded like a good plan and we chose which islands we wanted to visit and how long we wanted to stay at each. Since I didn't know one island from the other, I just chose 4 or 5 of them that they suggested and stay for a day (they told me I could change it later if I wanted to stay longer). The island-to-island travel was kind of expensive (approximately $150 Fijian dollars for 4 or 5 islands and back) but if you want to see them then it is probably your only choice (although, you may be able to pay some local fisherman to take you around for cheaper but the resorts on the islands are in-cahoots with the catamaran companies that have a monopoly on the inter-island travel).

I don't recall all the names of the islands that I went to but I remember my favorite was Mana Island. The resort here was interweaved with the village and run by the locals. There were plenty of seemingly untouched exotic places to explore and there wasn't anywhere off limits. I walked all along the beach until I came to some large rock formations that I had to climb. Then I climbed up one of the mountain hills and had a spectacular view of the entire island. At night we drank and played games with the locals in the bar. The place had really great vibes and friendly people, not to mention the two hot swedish girls sharing the cabin with me and my friend. Mana was one of the cheapest islands as well (for a bed and 3 meals costs around $40-$90 Fijian on each island, Mana was around $40). Note: bring your own sunscreen. I forgot to bring it and went to buy some in the one store they have. They were charging $26 for a small bottle. I refused to pay that and instead got the shit burnt out of me. The same goes for all essential items you might need. The next place I went was my least favorite island, although I still had a fun time there. It was Beachcomber Island. This island was one of the more expensive ones (around $90 Fijian) and didn't have the same vibes as the others. This felt more like a spring break destination, where everyone was there to just get drunk and party, although, this is what I did when I was there. But on this island, there were rules posted everywhere and the employees wore some kind of uniforms and it was much more of a tourist trap and didn't feel like I was on an exotic island in the South Pacific. I slept in a room with 100 beds, literally. In the morning I had a hangover and the seas were rough, which didn't make for a pleasant ride to the next island, Octopus Island (I think this was the name). This island costs around $85 Fijian and it is in the Yasawas. I had Kava for the first time here. Kava is a root that Fijians grind up and drink like coffee. Its a mild sedative and it makes your toungue a little numb, which is good because it tastes like cold sweat. They have a little ceremony where you sit in a circle and clap your hands and then drink some kava out of a half coconut shell. The only thing it did to me was make me tired and my mouth went a little numb, but it was a fun experience to partake in. After lunch the entire staff came out to play some volleyball. I jumped in and played a few games. Some of them were really old, and one guy was missing an arm but they were all badasses.  These people hardly ever get off the island and play every single day so you can imagine how good they are. It was a lot of fun and everyone was good sports and just enjoying themselves. The next day I went scuba diving ($60 Fijian for 2 dives, I put it on credit). Fiji has beautiful soft corals and very diverse reefs. In between dives we took the boat around the island and swam up to a waterfall that flowed into the ocean. We climbed up the waterfall and sat under it getting a very much needed water massage. The islands may be a little on the expensive side but there are plenty of fun FREE things you can do on them, such as barrow kayaks and paddle out to smaller uninhabited islands, barrow a mask and snorkel and explore some smaller reefs using the kayak, body surf in huge waves, soccer and volleyball, walk around the entire island, or just lay out and enjoy the sun.

We were spending too much money in the islands so we decided to head back to Nadi on the mainland. Once we got back we found a local bus to take us north. On the mainland local buses are the cheapest and most interesting ways to travel. I circumnavigated the mainland and probably spent $15 Fijian or less. Some of the roads and drivers are sketchy but for the most part its fine. The first destination we decided on was called Latoka. We had spent way too much money in the islands and we needed to save. My travel buddy was a Hare Krishna and there was a Krishna temple in Latoka where we could at least get a free meal. We arrived there at night and got a cheap room in a hotel (around $10 F for both of us). It happened to be the Rugby world cup and Fiji was playing New Zealand in the final so we watched and cheered on Fiji in a bar and had no idea what any of the rules of the game were. The next day we walked to the Krishna temple and met with some of the people there. They were really nice and gave us free food. My friend got the number of the temple president for the temple in Raki Raki (our next destination) in case we needed a place to stay or more free food. The next day we hopped on a local bus and went to Raki Raki. On the bus a drunk guy got on and sat down and then looked back and saw me, smiled really big, and moved next to me. He smiled again and pulled something out of his pockets to show me. It was some pot he wanted to sell me. I smoke pot on occassion but being my first time in an unfamiliar country I wasn't about to buy some from some drunk dude on the crowded bus. I told him no thanks and figured he would leave me alone. He kept talking drunk jiberish to me but it was friendly jiberish so I just smiled and nodded. We finally got to Raki Raki which was another dirty town and this guy was still following us around. He wanted to know where we were going and if he could take us in his friends taxi. We kept declining but he wouldn't let up. I told my friend to call the number of the temple president jso we could get away from this guy. He called and talked to her. She was out of town but she said her husband is a doctor at a hospital near where we were and to go ask for him. We ditched the drunk guy and walked to the hospital. We went in and asked for the doctor. He wasn't there but they told us he lived close by and even took us to his house. We knocked on the door and told him that we are travelers from the US and we talked to his wife on the phone. He immediately told us to come in and he gave us some food. It was delicious food but he kept apologizing for not being prepared. Then he asked for our dirty laundry so he could wash it. After we ate and took showers he gave us a room to sleep in. The next day he took us to the small temple farther out in the country. We helped cut veggies for the meal and talked to some of the locals. They had so many questions and were very happy we showed up because they very seldom get any visitors. The doctor had already done so much for us and then he asked if they could drive us to our next destination. We tried not to accept but they wouldn't take no for an answer. We wanted to go to this place in the north called Nana-nu-ira where there was supposed to be excellent diving. The drive took about 2 hours down some really bumpy roads and finally we made it. They made sure we had a place to stay and that we got the fairest price and then we said goodbye and thanked them over and over. We had to practically force $10 in the driver's pockets for gas. Then they left. That night a bus tour (Fiji Experience or something) of backpackers showed up and we all played some games in the sand and drank our asses off. Then I drank some kava with the security guard and went to bed. The next morning we went scuba diving (cost around $45F for 2 dives). There were amazing coral caves to swim through. We decided to stay another night and partied with a new tour bus of backpackers. The next morning we talked the tour bus driver into letting us hitch a ride to the next town so we could catch a local bus to Suva.

Suva is a dirty city and smells like deisel. We stayed in a cheap hostel one night where some very large fijian lady had sex in the bed next to mine all night. We decided the next morning to get the hell out of the city. We heard about this place where you could dive with bull sharks called Pacific Harbour south of Suva so we set out to find it. After asking around, we found a local bus to take us there. We walked around and found the cheapest place to stay. The next day we found the shark diving. It was about $70F each for 2 dives. The dive crew chummed the water and sharks started showing up. I was the first to get my gear on so they told me to go ahead and get in the water and wait for everyone else. I was pretty freaked out at first but I jumped in anyways. Looking down I could see reef sharks swimming below me but still no Bull sharks. Everyone proceeded to get in and then we all went down to the "arena". We knelt next to a small coral wall and watched as the Fijian dive master started hand feeding the sharks. At first, it was just smaller reef sharks and giant Trevelly fish but then they scattered and the Bull sharks showed up. There were around 15-20 huge Bull sharks. They started circling the dive master and staring at us like we were their next meal. The only protection we had was a diver on each side our group with a metal pole for poking the shark if they came at us but these sharks could eat the diver and metal pole if they pleased. They motioned to me to come on the other side of the wall closer to the sharks, I hesitated and then moved forward so that I was about 3 feet away from the action. The diver master would get bumped every once in a while by a couple sharks and then he would shove them off and hand feed them some dead fish. They tore the fish apart with such immense power and ferocity. It was a very humbling sight.

We lived through the sharks but we were spending too much money. It had to last us for about a year. We decided to get on a bus and go to one more beach in the south and then go back to Nadi to fly out to New Zealand. We ended up at this place called Beach House. It was on the southern coast of the mainland and very beautiful. We had a tent with us so we camped for much cheaper than sleeping in the hostel. They had lots of activities here. We played some ping-pong, beach soccer and then we went exploring. Someone had told us of a waterfall outside the village so we set out to find it. We past a school and some houses asking for directions. We eventually found a path into the jungle. We followed it for about an hour and came to a creek. The path followed along the creek for awhile and then we saw the waterfall. It was massive with lots of tiers. We climbed around it, and stood under it and then headed back. When we got back we wanted to have some beers at the bar but had to make a choice between beer or dinner. We chose beer. The next day we caught a bus to Nadi and Flew out to New Zealand.

Fiji was an incredible experience. The Fijian people are some of the happiest, friendliest, and most trustworthy people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Everywhere you go you get smiles and "Bulah" without the people expecting money in return. It was an ideal first travel experience. Everyone was very helpful and accomodating. I spent a little more money than I would have liked to but I went scuba diving a few times and it was my first destination abroad so that can be expected. The islands ,as well as the mainland are beautiful. Stay out of the cities as much as possible. Ride the local cheap buses. Drink some kava and live by Fiji-time.

d00tchy says:
hahah funny ass blog. dude im thinking about going diving for 10 days in Fiji. Aside from the bullsharks (which I'm def looking to do), where else do you recommend to dive? Thanks bro!
Posted on: May 06, 2009
djinn88 says:
This sounds like a great start to any trip!
Posted on: Jan 12, 2008
josiah22 says:
I took this trip in 2006 so don't quote me exactly on the prices, they are just estimates of what I remember. When I was there 1 USD was equivalent to around 1.6 Fijian dollars. I just look up what the exchange rate now is: 1 US Dollar = 1.55421 Fiji and
1 Fiji Dollar (FJD) = 0.64341 US Dollar (USD). The prices I have in the blog are for Fiji currency. Hope this clears that up.
Posted on: Jan 11, 2008
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