Have you ever needed to escape from your everyday life? Is the thought of relaxing in a tropical paradise drumming in your mind or are you longing for new experiences like a different culture? Well I have the perfect place for you.
As the new year brings happiness and excitement, it also brings along quite a bit of stress- whether it be due to money or work. I knew for a while that I wanted to take a trip to unwind and also to travel for the first time overseas with my partner Alec. It was all quite a rushed process as we weren’t sure where to go however within four weeks, we had planned, purchased and packed ready for our week away at the Naviti Resort on the Coral Coast of Fiji.
The trip was a little painful with a three-hour train trip at three in the morning, followed by a three hour wait at the airport then a five-hour plane ride, however, when we arrived at the Nadi airport, we were welcomed with ‘Bula’, shell necklaces and smiling faces of the locals, which made us feel like it was going to be a great holiday. ‘Bula’ is the Fijian way of saying ‘Hello’ but it can also mean ‘Welcome’ and ‘Love’. We caught on quite quickly as it is hard to say the word without a smile escaping from your lips.
Even though it is thought of as a small country, Fiji consists of 332 islands (106 islands being inhabited) with 14 provinces in Fiji and over one hundred dialogues spaced across the islands.
The Fijian people are the most inviting culture I have met. People will do anything for you, expecting no profit, except to know that they have helped you in some way. They love to teach about their culture and traditions and show people the way they live as it is very different to our way of life. Within our short stay, Alec and I experienced and learnt a lot of their culture by talking to numerous locals and hearing historic stories about their different villages. We were even lucky enough to be invited to several villages across the Coral Coast by the locals.
While on a jet boat on the Navua River, we saw over fifty incredible waterfalls and even had the opportunity to swim in one that would have reached above a three-story building. The pressure from it was so intense which made the experience that much more exciting. Our guide; William was so informative about his community’s history and was the reason we got to spend time in the Korowakawa Village where we had lunch, drank Kava and sang songs together. We have been invited to stay in the village next time we come which will be a real treat to experience more of their local way of life.
Kava is a traditional drink in Fiji and can be used for both; ceremonies (where it is used to unite two groups of people together) and in a casual situation. A large amount of Fijians drink Kava on a daily basis which might help explain the popular saying ‘Fiji Time’ as each day is relaxed and not rushed. Kava is made from crushing the root of a pepper plant (yaqona bush or piper methysticum) then mixing the powder with water. People tend to think that Kava is intended to give you hallucinations but it’s effects are mild; one or two cups will tingle your lips and a large amount will make you feel relaxed and sleepy- falling asleep is the amount of its affect. Alec and I drank Kava at the Korowakawa Village and I enjoyed it however as good as its reputation is; it did taste a little like dirty water but when in Fiji, I highly recommend trying it.
With our all-inclusive package at the Naviti Resort, we were given a beautiful garden view room, three meals a day, three bars including one swim-up pool bar where we were spoiled by our favourite staff members; Minnie and Tema with tropical alcoholic beverages from local beers and wines, house spirits and a variety of cocktails. We took advantage of the included activities plus we were given a exotic guided snorkelling trip, a beautiful sunset bay cruise and a stunning coral viewing cruise just out from the resort by Noah. Noah had a rope tied to the back of the boat so when we reached a great area, we all jumped out, holding onto the rope as he dragged us slowly above the coral reef. It was such a magical experience, we had to do it again the next morning.
Every day in the restaurant we were all serenaded by men singing in beautiful harmony, performing a range of traditional Fijian songs through to everyday pop with a Fijian twist. Performing acoustically, they accompanied themselves with guitars and ukuleles. It was simply beautiful.
As Alec puts it; I went full tourist and took so many photos of literally everything! On our second day there, I even got my hair braided by three ladies in a local village but come on- that’s what happens when you’re on holidays!
To top this all off, on my 21st birthday, we ordered room service and I was spoiled by Alec with not only pizza, not only champagne, not only the world’s largest mouth-watering chocolate and dark berry cake but also a beautiful song by six Fijian’s and a big ‘Happy 21st Birthday’ sign on my bed. It’s easy to say that this was the best holiday I’ve ever had. Regrettably we had to say ‘Goodbye’ or ‘Moce’ to Fiji but we are already planning our next return.