Fiji is often looked at as a bit of a paradise island. Somewhere that honeymooners would go, or families from neighbouring countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
As I was living in Christchurch, and it was approaching Winter, I felt that I needed a dose of sun, and researched into getting myself to Fiji. I got some cheap flights, thanks to Air New Zealand’s Grab a seat fares, and then set about trying to find somewhere to stay for the week.
Most backpackers to Fiji, will generally get themselves onboard with Fiji Experience (a sister company of the Kiwi Experience in New Zealand), which is a transport, activity and accommodation package, getting you around a particular area.
I didn’t really want to be part of that, as it is notorious for young people, intent on drinking and partying a lot, and I rather wanted a relaxing time in one place.
After sometime, I decided that I wanted to go to the Yasawa Islands, to Nacula Island, and the resort called the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort as it looked picturesque and peaceful. When I arrived in Nadi, and after being seranaded by some locals at the airport with their tiny guitars, exclaiming Bula, Bula Bula (welcome, welcome, welcome), I was asked where I was headed to, and when I told them, the Yasawa Islands, I was told that I wouldn’t want to leave; they were right.
Staying at the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort
I booked directly through the resort website, and the cost of my accommodation on the island, for 5 nights, which included breakfast and dinner each day and return transfers from Denarau Marina was NZ $673 or £341** Sounds like a a bit steep perhaps, seeing as this could last you almost one month in Asia. However, if it is Fiji you are after. It is worth it.
** Price correct as of July 2012.
Location and getting there
When you visit Fiji, you can stay on the mainland if you wish. The airport in Nadi is the main port of entry, and some people do choose to explore the mainland, where there are beaches, and alternative areas to see. However, a visit to Fiji, isn’t complete without a trip to the Islands.
Getting there is via a Catamaran, this was added on to the cost of my accommodation, but if you want to you can book a Bula pass, which will get you access to many islands, or just a return journey (if it is not included in where you are staying). Awesome Adventures Fiji operate this boat, and it leaves around 9am (Fiji Time), but you must be at the port by 8am to check in (note: prices of water, and other amenities are more expensive on the islands, and even at the resort, so if you want anything, buy it for cheap at the small convenience stores by the Port, although if you buy water, it’ll not stay cold for long)
The ferry journey took 4.5 hours to get to the island I had booked on (Nacula Island), which was in total longer than my flight from Christchurch to Fiji! Still, it was warm, with a breeze and I had music, a book and nice islands to look at on the way, so the journey went pretty quickly.
For all the resorts you have to get a smaller transfer boat across to the actual island. So the flyer doesn’t go right in. It took a further 15 minutes to get to the island. We got welcomed by a number of staff members who sang to us and gave us a cool tropical drink, which was so nice as It was hot.
Things to do
The Blue Lagoon Beach resort has a number of activities for travellers, ranging from cave diving, visiting a local school and village, hiking and learning how to make traditional Fijian food. Some of these activities were free, or had an additional cost. There was also snorkel get and a kayak which you could have for free.
During your stay at the Blue Lagoon, no cash is exchanged until the end of your stay, so there is a tab system for drinks and activities, which could get a bit more expensive, if you didn’t keep tabs on your own tab. I didn’t spend too much during the week however, as a big breakfast and dinner in the evening often sufficed, I bought a few drinks in the evening, but these didn’t cost too much.
It is possible to complete your PADI dive course, as well as go shark diving, but I was more content with just snorkelling.
In the end, I relaxed on the beach, snorkelled, went kayaking, cave diving, hiking and visited the school and village. I also watched basket weaving, different methods for coconuts, and did a fair few shots of Kava (which looks like dirty water, and doesn’t taste fantastic)
At the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, they are very ethically minded, and source local ingredients. Their staff are from the village, neighbouring islands, or from the mainland. They support the villagers living in Nacula, and each week they take those staying at the resort to the village, where you can buy handicrafts, as well as this, they will often have a cause that they are supporting. For the month we were there, they were promoting oral hygiene, and so guests were asked to bring additional toothbrushes and toothpaste to give to the villagers.