Thursday, 15 August 2013

Holiday Postcards: Bula Fiji!

I love to travel. Once you've caught the travelling bug I don't think you can ever shake it! I've visited 25 countries so far but I hope to visit many more. I always get asked which country is my favourite, an extremely tough question to answer. I would say I have 3 favourite countries but today I'm going to share some pictures and memories of my time in Fiji.

I try not to be a tourist, I'm more of a traveller. I may be a fashion lover but when it comes to exploring the globe, my clothing/appearance take a backseat. I want to learn all about a country's culture and hang out with the locals.

Arriving to Nanuku Island by boat
Arriving to Nanuku Island by boat.

In September 2011 I embarked on a round the world trip. I started in Australia, then went to New Zealand and Fiji before flying to South America. 

We first touched down in Nadi, Fiji's capital, in February 2012. We'd heard all sorts of bad things about Nadi from fellow travellers and were advised to make our plans and just leave! To be fair, it wasn't that bad. However it was extremely muddy due to the awful  weather they'd been having, and we just wanted to get to a beach. Most backpackers visit the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands, but we never really plan anything before we travel and I don't really like heading to tourist hot spots. After reading numerous reviews of the islands online, I wasn't feeling it. I decided to spend sometime on Google researching our options.



Old Fijian Ferry
Fijian ferry! It looks a lot better from the outside. Trust me.

After an hour or so, I hit the jackpot. I stumbled across a review of Qamea Island! Our next issue was how to get there. It turns out it's really far away and the best option is to fly. We couldn't afford to fly so we had to work out an alternative route. 

After a 4 hour bus ride to Suva (then half a day's wait), a 19 hour ferry ride from Suva to Taveuni, a 1 hour *local* bus and a 30 minute boat trip to the island, we made it! The ferry ride was probably the most interesting part of the journey. We paid for '1st class' so we could sleep on mats in wooden built-in bunk-beds, something I  recommend to anybody taking the same route. I have no idea what year the ferry was built but it was practically an ancient relic. Our 1st class area had a TV which played horror movies (on VHS) and we were served a delicious *cough* meal. If you were 2nd class you had to sleep standing up surrounded by hundreds of people. Eeep!
Walking on a palm tree on Qamea Island.The beach at Maqai Resort.

When we arrived at Maqai Beach, we knew the long trip had all been worth it. This island is an absolute gem and after a few days we had formed a tight-knit group with the other backpackers. Our group was made up of 2 Australian couples, a group of Germans, 2 fellow Brits and 1 cool, sporty Swedish guy. We visited a nearby village where we met the chief, went snorkelling, played volleyball, watched a fire show, went on a jungle trek and drank A LOT of kava.

Kava is a root which is usually grinded or pounded and then added to water. It looks like mud and pretty much tastes like mud! You drink it from dried coconut shells (available in various sizes) and it's very popular in Fiji. Every night we would sit together and share stories/listen to songs while drinking with the locals. After several bowls of Kava, you get a slightly numb tongue and feel generally relaxed. We even found we had a few crazy dreams after drinking it! It's certainly an acquired taste.


Village children on Qamea Island.
Kingfisher in Fiji.
Jungle trek in Fiji.
Village children, a Kingfisher and our Fijian guide.

After a few days of living the island life, we were told about a small nearby island we could visit called Nanuku. We were shown pictures of this picturesque desert island and everybody in our group decided they wanted to go for an overnight stay! It was a 3 hour boat ride but after a few stops, including one desperate attempt to save an iPhone that went overboard, we had arrived.


The clear waters of Nanuku Island, Fiji.
Beautiful Nanuku IslandBreathtaking views at Nanuku Island, Fiji.

Nanuku is the most beautiful place I've ever visited and is situated 20 minutes from a 7 star resort. 7 star hotels exist!? Apparently so, because both Oprah Winfrey and Arnold Schwarzenegger have stayed there. If you fancy staying at Red Bull island, it only costs a mere 30,000 per night but I wouldn't bother... The locals at Maqai have all worked there and said it doesn't even compare with Nanuku!

Fijian Fruit Bat
Locals spear fishing in Fiji.
A cute fruit bat and some fresh fish caught by the locals.

After settling in and spending 10 minutes walking around the island, we went out to the reef to snorkel while the locals spear fished. It was fascinating to watch, the islanders are such skilled swimmers and it didn't take them long to catch our meal for the evening. I'd previously snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef a few months before, but this was a lot more enjoyable. The fish and coral were such vibrant colours and I even spotted a reef shark which was super cool (but slightly scary).

Hanging out with the locals in Fiji!
Spot the backpacker!

Later that evening we built a camp fire, sang songs and the locals told us lots of interesting stories... Including the time they ran out of cigarettes on Nanuku and waved down a passing Yacht for help! I love how little knowledge they have of celebrities. Both Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson (who is apparently nicer than Russell) have visited Nanuku and Qamea Island. They sat in the same place as us, drinking Kava with the locals. I guess even some celebrities want to avoid the luxurious resorts and immerse themselves in the local culture. When I asked one of the young Fijians if he'd heard of Justin Bieber, he shrugged and replied, "I think so." Perfect.

Baby sea turtles in Fiji
Newly hatched baby sea turtles

My highlight of my trip to Nanuku wasn't the delicious fresh fish, crab racing or the dancing, it was waking up to find 25 baby turtles had hatched overnight! We had spotted turtle tracks on the island but never once expected to see any. It was a once in a lifetime experience to watch them zig zag while trying to get to the sea. They were a little sleepy at first but eventually they all made it into the water. 

We spent a few more days on Qamea Island with our new friends before visiting the Coral Coast. We had to make our way back to Nadi so we could catch our flight to Chile. While in the Coral Coast we met an elderly gentleman who took us on a trip to some waterfalls. During our walk he said something that has always stayed with me: "We don't have much, but we have everything."

Waterfall in the Coral Coast, FijiWaterfall on Fiji's Coral Coast.

Fijians aren't hung up on possessions or having stacks of money. Most of the people we met live in small sheds and sleep on floor mats, but they're genuinely the happiest people I've ever met. It's important to collect memories, not things. This is something I'm still working on.

I hope you enjoyed today's post. If you were hoping for an outfit post then check back later today! 

T - Needs another holiday! STAT. XoX 

8 comments

  1. Oh, I hope you win Tara! You are so adventurous so I think you deserve to. The little fruit bat and turtles are so cute! <3 xxx

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    1. Awww, thank you Carly! :) I miss those little guys. I have a super cute video of them making a dash for it haha! xo

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  2. This was a wonderful post really enjoyed reading through and your so lucky I would love to travel and learn about other cultures as sometimes its nice to learn more about the world and really experience different ways of life. I really liked the quote as well as its very true it would be nice to find that perfect state of happiness where its not through material things but through life itself and connecting to what we have right in front of us :D really liked the photos too and the turtles are so cute and the bat really is massive haha! xx

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  3. Those pictures are amazing i'm definately adding Fiji to my bucket list! Those turtles are to die for OMG reminds me of finding nemo lol

    ThePipingFairy.com

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  4. I'm absolutely oozing with jealously right now, it looks and sounds so amazing! The water alone makes me want to go there, it actually is something you'd see on a postcard!

    Megan xxx
    Thumbelina Lillie | UK Beauty Blog

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  5. Stunning pics T, good luck! :-)

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  6. This is such an awesome post T, I hope you win this! I felt aaaall your travel woes and I could not even begin to imagine a 19-hour ferry journey stood up. You made a good call.
    X

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Hey there, thanks for taking the time to follow and comment! Pop your thoughts here and we will come take a peek at your blog/profile too. :) T and J xo

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