No Hurry, No Worry in Fiji
How about that ride in...
Years ago, I remember seeing one of those generic desktop screensavers of a beach scene and noticed it was taken in Fiji, ever since then it's been on my list of places to travel (totally reasonable, right?!). So I jumped at the chance to join Michelle, my fellow American, on her trip this past December.
Just a 4 hour flight from Sydney, Fiij is made up of 330 islands of white sand, crystal clear water and lush green landscape. And while the thought of Fiji likely evokes images of couples on their honeymoons, there are plenty of hostels and affordable options on the islands, so you don’t have to wait for a wedding to enjoy this beautiful place.
when to go
The best time of year to visit Fiji is between April - October, as the heat and humidity are lower and it's less likely to rain. Although, I was there in early December and didn't have any rain (but definitely heat and humidity). Keep in mind it's usually cheaper to visit places in the off-season, if you can deal with the possibility of less ideal weather.
Smugglers Cove // hanging in the hammock at sunset
where to stay
Since my time was limited, I stayed on the main island in Nadi all 4 nights. And while Nadi doesn't have the crystal clear water like the surrounding islands, there’s no shortage of things to do; whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, you can find it here. We stayed in a hostel called Smuggler's Cove and loved it—it’s situated on a beach with great sunset views, a pool, bar, free breakfast and daily activities. If you have a bit more time, I’d recommend spending a few nights on some of the more secluded islands- there’s plenty of options just a ferry ride away.
a different side of Fiji; paradise at the thermal mud pools
what to do
The majority of our time was spent relaxing on the beach, kayaking (free at Smuggler’s!), drinking cocktails, and dipping in the pool (plus underwater basket weaving...seriously), but we took breaks from the sun to venture out a bit, too.
MUD POOLS / When you get tired of laying on the beach (I know it doesn’t seem like there’s such a thing, but the sun is intense here so do yourself a favor) one of the most popular attractions on the main island is the thermal mud pools and hot springs. Surrounded by sprawling green hills, wildflowers, and chickens wandering about the grounds, the mud pools feel like a natural oasis. You cover yourself head to toe in geothermal mud (pro tip: don’t wear a bathing suit that will stain) and then rinse in the two spring water pools; there’s even an option for a massage!
SOUTH SEA ISLAND / For a day trip we ventured out to South Sea Island, a tiny island surrounded by crystal-clear water. We feasted on BBQ food, snorkeled in the warm water and napped in hammocks. It was paradise, and exactly what I'd seen in the screensaver.
ZIP LINING / On my last day, I went ziplining through the jungle and hiking to a waterfall. I loved being surrounded by the nature, and it's even better to view from above. I’m so glad I decided to squeeze in one last activity before I headed home, even if it meant boarding my flight with wet hair!
KAVA CEREMONY / Kava, a root-based alcohol, is huge in Fijian culture as it symbolizes community. The muddy-colored liquid is served in halved coconut shells while you kneel in front of the men performing the ceremony, just one sip will make your tongue go numb! I don't recommend downing more than a sip or two, but it's definitely an experience to be had while in Fiji.
MEET THE LOCALS / The best part of Fiji has to be the people. They are warm and welcoming, and so laid-back that their token saying on the island is, “no hurry, no worry.” It’s easy to spark up a conversation with them, in our time spent at the hostel or in cabs we were able to learn so much. Many of them rely on farming and the local markets to stay afloat but recent floods had knocked out a large amount of crops, and while tourism is the largest source of income for the people, the surge has driven prices up around the island but their pay has not increased. Despite their modest living and struggle to make ends meet, they are happy—almost every local commented on how beautiful Fiji is, and how they can’t help but be happy when surrounded by such beauty every single day. I would love to return to Fiji one day and spend more time with the locals, exploring their villages and learning more about the people.
mango season, there's nothing better!
what to eat
I really don't have much to say here because I mainly ate food from the hostel consisting of salad, sandwiches, fries...nothing authentic to the area haha BUT I've heard great things about their local cuisine. We did, however, arrive at the end of mango season. You could find fresh, fragrant mangoes for sale on almost every corner-- and there's really nothing like mango fresh from the tree.
Whether it’s for your honeymoon or a little vacation for yourself, I think everyone should add Fiji to their bucket list.
PS - yes, they do sell Fiji bottled water in Fiji.