Expedition 21. 9. – 7. 10. 2017
21. 9. Day 1- Arrival to Nadi and first impression
We flew to Fiji from Christchurch with Air New Zealand. If you are also planning to go to Fiji, definitely do not fly with them. Fijian Airways generally have better prices, and according to friends’ narratives, there is a much higher level of service. We never flew with such unpleasant staff, and despite a not-really-cheap ticket price (650 NZD), we were only offered a free bottle of water, tea or coffee for free. The flight time was running soo slowly. Finally, we heard the magic word BULA. It means something like Hey and Welcome in the Fijian language. We exchanged just a few dollars for the first night in the hotel because there was a disadvantageous course of New Zealand and Fijian dollar at the airport.
Two Czech friends of us from New Zealand, Andrejka and Peta, were waiting for us at the arrival gate. They had a stopover in Fiji and it was the last time that we spent time with them because they were coming back home. All of us went to the hotel, changed clothes, and went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. It was a warm pleasant night. We order almost everything from the menu and paid 30 FJD, including the crab. For the first time, we have tasted the best local beer in Fiji Fiji Gold. The beer itself costs 6 bucks. It was a farewell dinner with some of the closest people we had in New Zealand. Andrejka and Peta were part of our New Zealand family with whom we celebrated Christmas, birthdays, successes, shared concerns and we were helping each other.
We talked outside untill early morning, drinking rum and Bayleys. Our Central Sunview Hotel was in the Martintar district of Nadi, and despite being the cheapest accommodation for 50 Fijian dollars per room and night, it was clean and air-conditioned we appreciated.
Local Fijians are incredibly nice people. From the very first day, we feel like at home in Fiji, really welcome and safe
22.9. Day 2 – Exchange of money and arranging island adventure
After this pleasant night, Andrejka and Peta awoke to us in the morning and we had a breakfast. We ate papaya, and then some strange-looking but perfect-tasting fruit. Yeah, and some local buns. We quickly packed our stuff and left with our friends to the city centre, from which they continued to the airport. Our farewell was quite happy as we’re sure we’ll meet again. The advantage of travelling is that you are meeting a lot of like-minded people who are indelibly engraved in your heart. They will be part of your paths, your memories, your life. The disadvantage is that you have to say goodbye to them sooner or later. Everyone is different, but I must take every farewell as a temporary oversight and not as a good-bye forever. So see ya later Andrejka and Peta!
We got to the Nadi town center at 10 am. We didn´t experience any annoying people chasing buyers. The city lives with its own busy life, but it is not annoying to us. It’s just different. We immediately went to the first tourist office we met to plan accommodation and transport on the islands. Its name was Selva Tours. In the Yasawa and Mamanuca archipelagos, where we headed to, there is usualy nothing but jungle beside the accommodation and/or the traditional Fijian villages. The islands have mostly no source of drinking water. If you do not have your own boat, you are absolutely dependent on accommodation that you arrange in advance from the main island. You can´t really enjoy independent travels because of that. At the travel agency, we came across a very nice Fijian lady in her best years and younger Samoa’s lady who helped her. Both of us cared very well for us. So we talked with chocolate cups in our hands, what places we want to see, what budget we have, how we want to live and how many islands do we want to visit. We left the office three hours later with booked accommodation, transport and a well-planned itinerary. We chose to spend 12 days on 6 islands in the Mamanucas and Yasawas archipelagos. It has to be said that we asked the lady at the end if she could give us some discount. And the lady was happy to give us one (she reduced the whole price for 10%, so 12 days on islands cost 3000 Fiji dollars for both of us, including all transport, accommodation and meals).
Regarding the Fiji bargaining – do not be afraid to ask for a discount. Local people will be happy to decrease a price a little bit when you treat them with respect.
The lady walked with us to the Lotus exchange office in the city where we exchanged New Zealand money (and got a much better rate than the airport, saving a lot of money) and then took us to Digitel’s shop where we bought a SIM card with 15 FJD data. She also showed us where to buy cheap fruit and vegetables, so thanks to her we had papaya orgies that night. We also bought 3 bottles of bottled water because there is usualy no drinkable water on the small islands. After the purchase, we took a bus to our hotel (it costs 0.70 FJD, so not even 30 US cents). The buses are very clean and well maintained here in Nadi, which surprised us. In addition, you can talk to the locals while using public transport and learn something new. Common meeting here in Fiji is Bula! A lot of people are offering us help. People are very friendly, but not insistent. We love Fiji!
In the afternoon we slept a little bit and in the evening we went to Indian restaurant Sitar to have a dinner. The atmosphere was magical. Candles everywhere, gentle oriental music, very professional services. The food was Indian, very good and cheap too. We paid 29FJD for this amazing delicious dinner for the two with the drinks even with a tip.
23.9. Day 3 – Now we are in paradise. Seriously!
In the morning at 9:00 a white van with an Indian driver and another couple is picking us up in front of the hotel. The couple´s names are Mike and Kirsty. They are New Zealanders, with whom we spent every free minute on Mana Island. We drive to the port of Denarau, from where the ships go to Mamanucas and Yasawas. On the way, we admire the colourful flowers of hibiscus and orchids, which grow here at every house and along the roads. When we reached Denarau, we did not understand why it was called a harbour – there was no jetty, only sun loungers, restaurants and hammocks on a sandy beach with palm trees. Well, why not …? We spent some time chatting with Mike and Kirsty. They are also from Christchurch, so we had a lot in common and therefore our waiting for the boat passed quickly. We did not even mind the boat which was prepared in the meantime. The boat was really a little one. We were 15 passengers and the ship wasn´t obviously happy with such number of people and baggage. The captain asked if anyone is willing to sit on the front deck to balance the boat so I took my chance to enjoy this adventurous cruise. Unfortunately, that adventure lasted only about 15 mins because the captain (the gob in his best years) decided that we needed a larger ship. We sailed to someone´s house, moved to a fine fishing craft, and this time we really reached our first stop – the island Mana in the Mamanuca archipelago. We passed many beautiful small islands with beautiful sandy beaches surrounded by crystal clear sea, palm trees and hammocks while mailing there. A saw a lot of huge sea monsters such as barracudas or hammer sharks.
We finally reached the Mana Island. We spent there 4 days in a village backpacker in our own room. The majority of this island is Mana Island Resort, which is a really pricey resort. Our backpacker hostel was in the village which was separated from the resort by a high barbed fence with a notice: PRIVATE PROPERTY. NO ENTRANCE.
Our hostel´s name is Mana Lagoon and it is located right on a fantastic white-sandy beach surrounded by even more fabulous coral reefs in the gorgeous sea. There were amounts of colourful fish swimming all around.
The hostel Mana Lagoon itself is in kind of neglected state – cracked walls, broken equipment, dirty bathrooms. Despite that, this place is just perfect. Immediately, after we checked in, we grabbed our towels and jumped into the water. Because it was a low tide at that moment, we were able to see underwater life even without snorkling. I just walked on the sandy seabed among the coral reefs. I saw heaps of massive blue sea stars, morei eels, fish and those poisonous stripped sea snakes. I was so absorbed by observing this amazing word that I completely forgot how powerful the sun is and I became as red as a crab by the time we came home in the evening
Beaches and the sea here on Mana Island are full of corals and seashells. Some of them are really big. They look exactly as those you can buy in some souvenir shop. The afternoon ran away quickly and there was already a time for dinner. All food we ate was local, no western cuisine. We had a plate with a mixture of fruit and vegetables such as papaya, bananas, cucumber, cassava and piece of freshly caught fish. I love the taste of cassava. Viky said it tastes a little bit as a dumpling.
After the dinner, we went for a night walk to the resort. I know, it is forbidden, but we were so curious! There was no rubbish there. Quests are living in small huts with their own bathroom and kitchen called BURAs. All buras have a gorgeous view directly to the sea. There are tennis courts, pools, spa and restaurant. I think we managed to get there just because we are white, western looking and so we self-consciously walked through the main gate. None of the employees stopped us, no one was bothered we are there, so we enjoyed beautiful hibiscus and frangipani gardens in the resort. And we met Mike and Kirsty as well.
We had a wee chat and then we came back to our backpacker hostel´s beach because it was a time of sunset. Sunsets in Fiji are spectacular, phenomenal and unbelievable. The sky blushes with blood-like red colour and it changes colour in 15 minutes to fire-like orange and gradually gets dark yellow, pink and purple colour. Sunset watching is better than a movie.
After the sunset, there was a cultural performance in the hostel. The main guy of the hostel and the cook dressed in traditional Fijian clothing and were dancing traditional tribal dances. Then we went outside and the guys performed really cook fire show as his ancestors taught him. It was an evening full of fun, chatting with so interesting people from all over the world, dancing with them and celebrating life. The night sea was so calm that I had a bath. We were lying on sunbeds for good part of the night, drinking Bayleys and savouring every second of this paradise.
When we went to bed, we spotted a spider as big as a fist basking by the bed. Viktor wanted to kill it but I quickly blew towards and it disappeared in a second.
24. 9. Day 4 – Mana Island
Mamanucas archiplago is soo interesting because its eastern part is formed by a tip of Great Barrier Reef. It makes it one of the best snorkelling spot in the world. I absolutely fell in love with snorkelling. I was snorkelling 8 times a day and still didn´t have enough. Viktor got a blister from sun on his instep and so he didn´t want to go to the salt water. The best thing is that Mana Island is surrounded from all sides by coral reefs. You could start snorkelling literally 5 meters from the beach and you were immediately in the world of Little Mermaid. Only Ariela was missing. I usually took a piece of bread and fed the fish. There were so many of them all around me – blue ones, green ones, brown ones, white ones, ones with stripes, big ones and small ones as well.
We went for a walk to explore the other site of the island where beautiful rocks are a few hours before our lunch. It was amazing a colourful place and I was so obsessed with its beauty that I drowned my new phone in the sea water. And so we lost our connection with the rest of the world because Viktor´s phone was too old and not working properly. Never mind. We circumvented the whole island.
The afternoon was creative as we were snorkelling (of course!) and crafting rings from the coconut shell. We just had to turn around the top of scissors to make a hole as big as your finger. Then, we got an old rusty hand saw to saw the hole around and it the end we got approximately 30 years old sandpaper and sanded that thing until it had more or less the shape of a ring. That´s it. Fiji style J
When we were absorbed with sanding, nice surprise happened. Kirsty came to visit us to the hostel and invited us to have a dinner with her and Mike in the evening. Mike was that all day fishing on the open sea and he managed to catch a few big fish so they wanted to share them with us. So, we spent remaining two evenings on Mana Island in presence of two so nice and kind friends and tasted traditional Fijian cuisine. We became good friends with Mike and Kirsty. That is what Fiji is about – making everlasting memories and meeting new friends.
25. 9. Day 5 – still in Mana
In the morning we had our breakfast by the sea as usual and then went for a swim as usual. The morning passed so quickly and within an eye blink, we sat down by the sea with lunch. We went to see Kirsty and Mike after lunch because they invited us for coffee. Their house in the resort was really very luxurious and spacious. Everything is new and clean. However, we are happy that we decided to try all types of accommodation – a hostel, at a local, five-star hotel. We spent the afternoon in the sea just chilling and chatting and then went to our hostel for dinner. New guests arrived – a young British couple travelling around the world, the Swede who was a cameraman at the Swedish Survivor reality show and two elderly couples. During the dinner, we talked a lot and shared our travel experiences and our stories. It was fun and, moreover, very interesting to meet such brave and interesting people. Each of them had their unrepeatable life story. What I personally like the most in Fiji is the incredibly welcoming culture. Everybody – a tourist or a local – is friendly and saturated with that friendliness. People live here like people – they help each other, whether they know the other person or not. They share their stories, share love and friendship, share their humanity.
In the evening we found the entire Fijian village with all the inhabitants of the hostel in the lobby – it was a great event to drink and dance and talk to anyone. It was just great. We must admit we all drank a little because drunken locals forced us alcohol. Fiji is paradise.
From the first moment, I feel safe, comfortable, like in an old home. I feel incredibly happy here.
26. 9. Day 6 – Arrival to Fijian village, where we would be eaten even hundred years ago
After breakfast, we went to pack our small backpacks because we were moving to another island called Wayalailai. We left the backpacks on the beach and soak ourselves in the water. At around 11 AM, our Captain Aku arrived with his motorboat, which was supposed to ship us for 200 Fijian dollars over the ocean. The voyage took about an hour. I have to say that I was quite afraid during this adventure. The boat jumped from one open sea wave to another as crazy and we were wet from head to toe in the first 15 minutes. Eventually, we arrived at Wayalailai Island where we stayed with the local people in the traditional Fijian village. It was the cheapest accommodation option and so we wanted to try it.
Now wait for it: Honzík and Markétka, our current roommates from Christchurch, who left to their Fiji vacation a week before us, waved at us from the beach. Before we left, we planned a journey together, but then we gave up and decided that we would do it separately as it was so difficult to plan where to meet each other. Do you understand that Fiji has over 330 islands, and we met in one of them without any planning? Honzík and Markétka even lived in a hut where we suppose to too. So, we lived together again.
Living in the Fijian village is a unique experience. However, first of all, let me tell you few words about the island. The dominant feature is the rock that is in the middle of the island. There are 3 traditional villages (the island is relatively large). Our village has about 90 inhabitants, and all men and children were born here – the women got here by marriage – so the whole village was actually one family because there are all relatives here. They behave like one big family.
The rest of the island is made up of jungles and rocks. There are also some resorts on the island. Local people are lucky because there are six fresh water streams on the island, so they have “drinking water”. In most of the islands in Fiji is no natural source of drinking water. The island right next to us is known for the presence of huge manta rays and it is even possible to swim with them in the sea. Unfortunately, during this time of year, they are moving elsewhere for food so we didn´t see them.
Because people here are one family, there are no fences or walls in the village. There is no private property or private ownership principle here. Everything is everyone´s and everybody can go everywhere (including houses). Therefore it was a little bit difficult to find out who lives in which house or whose this or that child as every village member cared about them as about his or her own child. We became a part of a village and therefore a tribe. It has its given rules. For example, we weren´t allowed to drink alcohol in the village or walk only in a bikini without clothes through the village.
The only source of electricity were solar panels which were working just during the day. This is why people in the village go usually to bed quite early. The sunset is after 7 PM and honestly – what can you do in the jungle in dark without power? The other thing is that each house has its own rooster and imagine that alarm every morning around 4 AM – every day roosters competition, which is running during all day long. At 5 am, the locals switch on the power generator so they can sing psalms altogether with some music. They are strongly religious people.
Our rooster is quite offensive. Several times a day, the father of our hosting family grabs it in his hands, runs Gross the village and scares all children with it. Local kids are curious and still playing something or with something. There is really a lot of kids here, the village population is quite young. Children like to sing to us and they absolutely love to be photographed and play with us.
Our room doesn´t have any door, just a short transparent curtain, so we can´t have any private fun at night. The shower (=a few old dirty boards) doesn´t work properly so we have to improvise and pour ourselves with rain water from bucket using old margarine vessel.
Interestingly, the locals bury their passed away relatives right in front of the main entrance of the house where the person lived.
Everywhere around huts there are graves on which the mattresses are ventilated by the local people, sitting or lying on them, chickens are walking over them. This village is very simple, in fact, it’s just a couple of wooden huts in the jungle near the beach. Everywhere there are hibiscus trees, huge trees of breadfruit, mango trees, papaya trees, banana trees, pineapples. Behind the village begins a steep cliff that continues to the rock in the middle of the island. There are huge boulders all around. Behind the village, there are few piggeries built into the rock.
After our lunch, we went with Honza and Market for a walk and reached the top of a big rock in the jungle, from where the view was just perfect. We wanted to go up to the very top of the rock, but the forest was impassable, and Viktor also got a blister on his leg and it hurt him (OMG, these deadly men diseases!). So, we just sat on the boulder, chatting and enjoying the view. In the evening, we went to the beach together, made a fire, drank Bayleys and talked for a long time. These moments are just unrepeatable .
27. 9. Day 7 – Still in Wayalailai Island
Viky got up at 4 AM (thanks to our rooster), but I had my earplugs and so I slept until half past seven. For breakfast we had something like a donut – it was excellent. Honza and Market left to continue their adventure in the main island. Then, they flew back to New Zealand. Before they left us, they gave us the addresses for the accommodation they liked on the main island and promised to send a message to our parents so they would not be afraid of us because we did not call them for a broken phone. It has relieved us a lot of worries. After the farewell, we stayed on the beach. Viky was chilling under a palm tree and I was swimming and snorkelling. After lunch, we spent a few hours talking with the American couple who also arrived in the village.
In the afternoon, we brought to the people of the village buns that Shery made. Shery is a Fijian lady who prepares our meal. People of the village gather and have tea together every afternoon. They told us the history of the village. In past, there was only one village on the island, not three as today. There was a chief in that one village, who was said to be a holy man because it was believed he was talking to God. Before he died, he told the village people that the rocks in the middle of the island are going to tear away. He also showed people the place where they should bury him. In 1985, at night, there was a massive landslip caused by torn off rocks from the middle of the island and rocks slid straight into the village. Nearly everyone remembers it – they say the rocks fell and roared and created a fiery trail. The massive stones stopped centimetre in front of the holy man’s grave, and thus they did not destroy the village. The villagers still remember it and consider it a miracle. However, people were scared at the time, so they moved out and establish another 2 villages. Young people and families later returned here to their original village, but the old people have stayed there. A pretty touching story, isn´t it?
Every day at 6 o’clock, there is a mass in the local church. A pastor and his son came home to see and greet us. Pastor´s son has never seen a person with white skin before. He was totally fascinated. He was seven years old, named Joses, and he did not speak English. We sat together for a while and drew and then went to church for a mass.
There are no benches in the church, just mats for sitting on the ground. Women and men are seated separately. The ceremony is all in Fijian language, so we do not understand anything. The pastor spoke for a while, was screaming for a moment, it was like a theatre performance. We’ve been singing a lot of songs, sometimes only men, sometimes only women, sometimes everyone together. Local women also took me to sing with them. After an hour one of the men, who sat with us in the afternoon on the village square, went forward to the pastor and said that he would like to thank their Czech friends for celebrating their worship service and invited us to drink kava (or yaqona in the Fijian language) after the end of the mass. We all shook our hands while leaving the church. It seemed to me that it made a diference that we were in the church with others and that villagers really included us. Our neighbour told me that on 17 February 2018, their villages would have 100 years of anniversary since Christianity was brought to them and they abandoned their tradition of cannibalism. Every month there is a special preacher here and he stays here for three days. Locals do not smoke and do not drink kava during these three days.
In the evening, we joined the chief and the villagers and ritually drank the kava. Kava is the dried root of a plant from pepper family. It’s quite expensive and it’s a light drug. Previously, the kava drink was in some tribes served to the victims of cannibals – it dulls the senses, and if you ingest more of it, it anaesthetizes certain parts of your upper body. Today it is just a social custom, a tradition. During the kava drinking ritual, everyone sits on the mats on the floor, the chiefs sit opposite the others, and the pot of kava is in the middle of ritual space. Firstly, the Chief greets and sings some indigenous songs. Then, the kava bowl is washed, the dried kava root powder is placed in a bag and rinsed in water. Others clap into the rhythm and the chief mutter something. There were about 40 people, almost the entire village. After the kava drink is properly prepared, drinking can begin. First, it is offered to the chief. The person preparing the drink claps three times, then hands him a coconut half with kava drink, saying the word BULA aloud. The chief accepts drink by free times clapping. Everyone (including us) drinks following the same principle until all the people are either happy or silent. Really. After the first sip, your tongue goes completely dull, if you take more, the whole half of your upper body become numb as a wood. This is the last stage we got into. People are sharing some pretty scary cannibal stories with us. It is fun, villagers are together.
28. 9. Day 8 – Arrival to a romantic kitsch to Malewu Island
In the morning we woke up both around the fourth morning thanks to the generator and our beloved rooster. It was drizzling since early morning, which was a joyous event for locals. As it rains here usually only in November, the local people are running low with fresh water supplies by October. They still have a small spring, but it dies down when in the dry season. Locals at that time of rains must fill all the reservoirs of water so that they survive until the next rains.
At ten o’clock, local residents had to take us to the middle of the sea to get us on a big ship that would leave us again – in the middle of the sea, and someone else from White Sandy Beach (where we headed to) would pick us up on a small boat. We were prepared at 9 AM on the beach at an agreed location. Together with the locals, we were looking for a big ship so we can hop on the small boat when we saw it. A big ship is not waiting anywhere, it only slows down at agreed spots on the sea. After a while, we saw the ship arriving and so we set out to leave, however, the locals had such a great FIJI TIME that they forgot about us and, in short, the ship left the agreed spot without us. So, we had to tell Shery to get us to our next island somehow. That big ship is doing its journey only once a day. It’s about an hour drive. Eventually Shery got 3 teenagers willing to take us to White Sandy Beach. I just wanted to laugh a little when I saw them because they did not even have beards. We cruised in the open sea in a tiny motorboat operand by children. However, we survived this adventurous journey and I must admit that the boys were really experienced for their age. It was worth doing!
The White Sandy Beach Resort staff welcomed us very warmly.
We accommodated ourselves in our beautiful hut right on the beach overlooking the sea directly from the bed. We love that each hut has its small bathroom, which is kind of glued to the hut and is without a roof and without plastic elements (it is only a stone wall with a sandstone stone floor and a shower coming from a stone wall). When having a shower, you can enjoy the surrounding blooming trees and shrubs. Between the beach and the house, there is an alley of the frangipani trees, among which is our private hammock for two. I love the moments when light breeze brings the narcotic smell of frangipani petals. I love just lying on the net and looking at the sunset. The staff of this facility is young, in our years, so they are very relaxed and friendly and easygoing and like to have fun with guests. In the evening, they prepared a buffet of traditional Fijian dishes – salad from raw fish in coconut milk, cooked taro (local potato equivalent), coconut delicacies and papaya and other goodies. After dinner, we danced the local dance of Bula, and because we enjoyed all the dances so much, they taught us that. We were all dancing together like no one´s watching and enjoyed that so so much. We went to bed early in the morning.
29. 9. Day 9 – White Sandy Beach again
We had a wonderful breakfast together with other fellow travellers in the morning. Breakfast was a buffet style table consisting of a good portion of fresh fruit, homemade cakes and juices. We met Brazilian guy Bruno and his wife from Peru. They both live in Zealand like us but in Queenstown. They’re fine. We went snorkelling in the afternoon. We discovered a perfect place a little bit further from the beach, which was probably the nicest place I’ve ever seen. It was an edge of a cliff where was literally a coral forest that shone in sapphire blue colour. I saw there an octopus and billions of colourful fish that shone with all the colours you can imagine. Simply beautiful. We spent the rest of the day on the beach with the others. We were chatting with inspiring guy John from England, who lives in China where he teaches English. One can meet incredible people with unbelievable fates when travelling. We also went farther down the beach and found a deserted hotel in the jungle. There were huge webs with scary spiders everywhere, but also a lot of banana trees with bananas, papaya, pineapples and blooming hibiscus. When we asked one of the local that evening what was a place, he told us it was a hotel that suffered great damage during last year’s cyclone Winston and so this poor hotel had to be closed down. Cyclones are happening here much more often than in the past. Now they happen almost every year and have devastating consequences every time. He also said that he saw last summer the wind blowing some house in the air and taking it to the jungle 50 meters further. After the cyklone, there will also be environmental damage because everything that is not really well-affixed to the grand is spread over the jungle, the beaches and the sea. Locals then spend a lot of time by fixing and cleaning up the damage.
One of the local employees also took us on a jungle walk and showed us the native plants used for healing.
At night, we made a large bonfire on the beach, chatting with the others over some glasses of cocktails, dancing Bula dance and playing games.
30. 9. Day 10 – Last goodbye to White Sandy Beach and 3 incredible days on Long Beach on Matakawalevu Island
In the morning we had a light breakfast and went swimming in the sea. Morning ran out like crazy and we had a lunch. After lunch, we put our things on the beach. As we only travel with two small backpacks, we are always packed within an eye blink. We waited on the beach for a large ship to appear on the horizon so that we could board a small boat that takes us to the center of the sea and land us on that great catamaran. The big ship had a delay of several hours, so we arrived on the next island late in the afternoon. The accommodation was named Long Beach and it was a family-run guesthouse with beach huts. This accommodation was really beautiful and we enjoyed it so much – like everywhere else in Fiji. The local owners were very nice, taking special care of their guests. In particular, our favourite person was Chris – the young son of the owners. He is a easygoing fella with dreads in our age who has never been outside Fiji. He asked us a lot about our country, how it works with education and what kind of climate we have there and so on.
Chris and his younger brother taught us how to take the coconut out of the tree and break it with one move. In the evening, we played a local board game called Fliky Flicky and Volleyball. There were 6 guests accommodated there – it was the whole capacity of this boarding house.
Days in Long Beach resort ran away very quickly. I remember and will never forget our every-night dinners outside on the beach where torches were around us, and how we chatted on the beach with a huge bonfire. The local Fijians are kind of obsessed with fire, and they are also masters in walking barefoot on the hot coal. We were chilling in the hammock, swimming in the perfectly clean sea, going for excursions to the neighbourhood, and Chris also taught us how to knit a basket from palm leaves.
This part of the sea was a feeding ground for stingrays, so we had to be very careful every time we wanted to go to the water. We were not snorkelling because we just did not have enough time to do all these amazing things. One day, Chris and two locals took us for a walk on Goat Island. We had to sail carefully a narrow canal full of coral reefs in the ship so we could get there. On the Goat Island, there are lots of wild goats. It has a conical shape and from the top is an incredible view of the coral reefs which are these islands surrounded by.
It’s really hard to make decisions, but Long Beach was probably the best place we visited in Fiji. Three days were gone, and we were once again on a small boat that took us in the middle of the sea to jump on a large ship sailing to the top of the Yasawa archipelago.
3. 10. Day 13 – Beauty of Blue Lagoon
In a while, we jumped on the board of a big catamaran and drifted north to Nacula Island to Blue Lagoon Beach. If this name sounds familiar to you, that’s right because that’s exactly where the famous Blue Lagoon film, which we all love, was shot. It looks like in the movie there. The beaches are white and the sea is unique. When we jumped out of the smaller boat that took us from the sea to the beach, the staff welcomed us. We enjoyed this accommodation – it’s a five-star hotel where Blue Lagoon actors lived. Accommodation is very expensive and although we only had one night and Sharp the room with 6 other strangers, it cost us more than any accommodation before. But it was worth it.
All meals were included in accommodation price and believe me – the food was fabulous. For lunch, we had a choice a´ la carte. For dinner, there were several buffet tables that were sparkling with incredible amounts and varieties of exotic food and live music played. We even saw a wedding on the beach just nearby us. The bride was led by two guards with traditionally carved weapons along the beach in the wedding dress, and another guy was drumming on a carved tree trunk used for rituals. It was unique.
Even here in Blue Lagoon I was snorkelling most of the time, Viktor traditionally rolled himself on the beach on the deckchair.
Swimming and snorkelling at this place are different from the places before. Of course, I do not even have to say there are enormous vivid colourful corals and millions of fish. Of course. But what’s special about the Blue Lagoon is that, as everywhere is white sand, when you’re snorkelling in the sea at a depth of just five meters, where there’s only water and sand that you can see through crystal clear water. It’s just so odd. In order not to generalize it, I will write to you about how I felt. I felt incredibly happy, as though I was one drop of water that surrounded me. I liked just closing my eyes, stretching out my arms, dismounting all the muscles and just being surrounded by the water. Do you know the feeling when your brain wants to relax and don´t want to think about anything, but in your mind, you still have some thoughts (maybe it’s hard to think of anything)? Almost immediately, in this position, I have always fallen into a state of non-thinking, a state of deep meditation.
4. 10. Day 14 – Giant Clams Restoration Project on Tavewa Island and return to Viti Levu
In the morning, we enjoyed the spectacular sunrise in the Blue Lagoon, had breakfast and lunch and cruised to the island of Tavewa, which is just off the corner of the Blue Lagoon, and it is a remarkable place for a big reason: locals are trying to save the Giant Clams here. It is one of the many species which are on the edge of extinction and it is a kind of a large seashell. Can you recall the image of the Birth of Venus by Botticelli? If so, the Giant Clam is exactly the shell from which naked Venus is being born. These rare and so beautiful creatures are often hunted because they have plenty of meat. I saw one when snorkelling – it was big like a microwave (so it was more like a cub). Adult shells are large almost like a human. During many walks along the Fijian beaches, we discovered these giant shells half buried in the sand. They have their foremost place in the Red Book of worldwide critically endangered species.
So this island has nurseries for these animals. You can observe them while guided snorkelling. They are protected from predators and mainly from fishermen, being surrounded by metal cages.
In the afternoon, we boarded a smaller catamaran that took us to the main island of Viti Levu, to the port city of Levuka. The journey took about two hours and it was such a ride. In the open sea, it was rocking a lot, the ship was sliding on the waves like a surfer and was constantly breaking through the waves, from which it was again fired like a catapult. At the end of the voyage, we were all wet. We left the ship with relief in the end. One lady recommended us some good accommodation in Levuka and wrote down its address for us on the piece of an old brochure (remember that we did not even have a mobile phone). In the harbour, we easily found the taxi driver who took us to the hotel. The hotel was inexpensive, but there were cockroaches so we did not really enjoy the stay. On the other hand, it was right across the fruit market and the bus station, so we went for a walk, bought goodies and water for the next few days, and went to a pharmacy for a disinfectant medicine for Viktor as his instep blister grown bigger and his foot started to be red because of the infection.
5. 10. Day 15 – Sigatoka and sand dunes
In the morning we handed the room keys to the hotel’s reception and asked the receptionist how can we get by bus to Sigatoka. If you find yourself in Fiji we recommend you to try local public transport. The buses are very clean (often in a better condition than in the Czech Republic or New Zealand), they are extremely cheap (70 km journey costs about 7 Fijian dollars, which is about 3 US dollars, per person) and the drivers and the locals really enjoy and like tourists they talk to them. You can also find out beautiful places and good and cheap restaurants that you will not find in the guides and only locals know about. Drivers will also stop you where you want to stop. There are no timetables – the bus waits at the main bus stop as long as it is not filled (which is usually a moment) and then starts a drive. There is another one waiting to fill in empty place That is the schedule. In practice, it looks like you are not bothering with any departure times, but you just come straight to the stop or the road and you hop on the bus in a few minutes.
At Levuka we boarded to an empty minibus with an Indian driver who was very kind and nice. He let us sit down, bought some sweets for us, waited for 10 minutes and then departed just with us two. We had the driver and the bus for ourselves for an absolutely ridiculous price.
We have often heard from the people in New Zealand that we should be careful about Indians because they rip off tourists and are swindlers in general. We would like to point out that this was not true in our case. The Indians behave as friendly and honest as the natives – the Fijians. It is possible that someone had a bad experience with a person with Indian, but it is good to repeat again and again that everything is just about individual people and not to throw all the Indians into one stupid category.
We arrived in Sigatoka, the town through which a great jungle river flows. There are also “Cannibal Caves”, a place where archaeologists have found a significant number of broken or chewed human bones. The entrance fee was unfortunately relatively expensive and we did not have enough time to see these caves so we had to give up the caves. Instead, we went to the National sand dunes park, which we definitely recommend to visit. According to Trip Advisor, it is the 75th most interesting place in the world. Admission fee is a symbolic price because mainly volunteers are taking care of the running and maintenance.
The sand dunes at Sigatoka are enormous. There is a path about 8 km long going through them, leading partly through dunes covered with high grass, looking like a green sea in the wind, partly through bare dunes, where we felt like in the Sahara, partly along the wild sea and partly through the forest that was planted a few years ago as a protection against the desiccation of the island. The hike lasted about 3 hours, and before were left this great place, we had a nice conversation with one of the volunteers. He told us about the historical significance of that place. In 2014, archaeologists discovered the traces of the first Fijian civilization in the dunes – remains of dwellings and a number of ceramic shards. However, what no one expected was a discovery of several graves with giant skeletons. They discovered human skeletons measuring between 2.5 and 3 meters. Intensive research is currently under way to find out who these giant people were.
After visiting the dunes, we stood by the road and waited five minutes for a bus which took us to Nadi.
In Nadi, we stayed at a beachfront hostel called Travelers’ Beach Resort. At the main bus station, where the bus from Sigatoka stopped, Indian guy Alkesh caught us and asked if we need some help. We went to the town centre with him, did some grocery shopping and then Alkesh took us to the bus station. Because we did not have a special card for paging in buses, he offered to pay the bus ticket for us. And he didn´t want his money back… People are amazing. He rode a bus with us, we talked and he showed us where to get off. We got off a tone particular bus stop and walked down the street towards the hostel. After a while, we noticed Alkesh running to us. He apologized for telling us to get out in the wrong place. He ordered a taxi for us and so we arrived at the hostel by taxi. We were so tired after this whole day fun of adventures that we went to bed. It was about 11 at night and after so many adventures we were pretty tired.
6. 10. Day 16 – Sleeping Giant Gardens and Mud pools trip with a personal driver
Close to Nadi there are beautiful rocky mountains and jungle, which are called Mountains of the Sleeping Giant. This is because if you look from Nadi airport towards to this place, it looks like the tops of the mountains were an outline of a lying figure. Because we had some spare money and to rent a personal driver is not expensive in Fiji, we allowed ourselves a little bit of luxury and paid the price. And beside of really good price – you support local people and believe me – they deserve it. The first stop was the famous Gardens of Sleeping giant. It is a place in the native jungle full of local orchids and other native exotic plants, where a stream flows and butterflies and dragonflies fly everywhere. We spent about three hours there. Then we experienced the natural mud baths that were just a little further away. In the middle of the meadows, a boiling water springs from the earth and this water is mixed with clayey soil in surroundings. The locals cleverly and simply dammed the muddy site and created canals taking the hot water to three pools. The result is a unique natural mud bath, which makes happy everyone who soaks in there.
We spent the rest of the day in there.
Our driver then took us into the local Nadi craft market, where we bought a few souvenirs and fruits for breakfast, and around six o’clock we were back at the hostel. We had a dinner on the beach and then we spent the rest of the evening just lying on the beach enjoying the last night in this paradise on earth.
Fiji is the most beautiful and most special place we´ve visited during our travels. Its beauty, the soul purity and the friendliness of the local people are unbeatable.