South Sea Island Fiji

I’ve been wanting to visit Fiji ever since 1982 when my plane stopped there to refuel on my way to Auckland, New Zealand. I wished then I could hop off and check it out, but that wasn’t allowed then.
Most ex-pats like me sooner or later need to do a visa run. That is when your visa expires, you need to leave the country you’re in and go somewhere else, usually for a very short time. Then when you show up at the border again, they renew your visa for another stay.
So when it was time for my first visa run from Australia, I’m so glad I picked Fiji. It was cheap (A$500 rt) to get there from Brisbane, and it’s a relatively cheap destination to visit.

Bula Dance – The Fijian Welcome

Whether you’re a backpacker or a jetsetter, Fiji is your kinda place. It’s friendly, romantic and fun! Watersports are very popular as Fiji has some of the cleanest seawater on the planet. Coral reefs surround most Fiji islands and the water is comfortable, even in winter.

Fiji Bure with a View

Backpackers can stay in dorms or double bures which are old style Fiji huts made from local materials. Most places include three meals a day in the price, which runs from F$50-$75 a nite per person. (US$1 = F$1.70). For those with a bigger budget, you can stay in fancier resorts, even 5 star ones.
What makes these resorts so much fun is that you cannot escape socializing with the other travelers. You see them in the dorms, on the beach and of course at meal times. Then at night in the bars the scene ranges from very mellow to big party time! You get to meet travelers from Europe, NZ, the US, South America & of course Australia.
The Fijians ensure everyone is cared for and happy. The food ranges from good to excellent, although if you’re used to American style portions, you might be disappointed because they don’t usually offer second helpings in the cheaper places. The more pricey places like to do buffets where you can stuff yourself.

Fiji consists of lots of small islands like this one, as well as much larger islands

Most travelers book a package deal to the outer islands especially the Yasawas, where I went. You can choose from 2 to 12 nites, with everything included, island transfers on a huge fast catamaran, accomodation and meals. There are so many options, it really hard to choose which islands to go to and where to stay.

On most islands you can also book a partial day trip to a good snorkeling/diving area, a traditional Fijian village, kayaking, a guided island walk or other activities.

The beaches are superb, but swimming is often dependent upon the tides as many lagoons are very shallow.

The locals, once fierce warriors, are now very friendly!

A cool Fijian custom is the Kava ceremony. This is where you can meet with the Fijians in the evening and drink their famous narcotic beverage. It’s not very strong, and it is usually served in a coconut shell. If you’re lucky the village chief will attend and you’ll get to see the locals on their best behavior (at least until the kava kicks in). It’s a challenge to keep up with Fijians as they can drink 20-40 bowls a nite.

Of course there are other Fiji traditions for you to enjoy.

I was thinking I was going to have to go cold turkey from the ganja when I went to Fiji. Little did I know that the Fijians love marijuana and grow tons of it! It’s cheap and pretty good smoke, although some people (like taxi drivers) will try to rip you off. You should not have to pay more than F$30 to get a few long stems with buds wrapped in tin foil, that when separated amount to around half an ounce. To get the best deal you can try visiting the growers in the Fiji highlands. If you bring some smoke out with you to the islands you’ll make lots of Fijian friends as it’s difficult for them to get it at times.

The Blue Lagoon – Sorry didn’t see Brooke Shields

My favorite places were the incredible Blue Lagoon (yes, where they filmed the movie!) and Kuata island. The Coral Coast, on the main island of Viti Levu is also a great place to hang out. You can also take a side trip to the island where they filmed Castaway with Tom Hanks.

Net Fishing along the Coral Coast of Viti Levu – Self Sufficiency made easy!

The Fijian islands are sooo beautiful! The climate is superb and the people are very friendly. I was really impressed with how many Fijians are still living the old way, off the land and sea, without much money at all. Some of the villages on the outer islands are very isolated with only a two-way radio for communication. Indeed there is no Internet in the Yasawa islands, so it’s a great escape for people like me who never seem to be able to get away from the WWW.
So if you’re in the mood for an exotic tropical holiday or passing thru the South Pacific, Fiji is one stop you will love and remember for the rest of your life!

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