Leaving New Zealand was definitely bittersweet. Though it marked the end of our epic adventure, it also introduced us to the beauty of Fiji for two blissful weeks. And that will stay with us forever.
Honestly, so much happened in this time that I’m going to have to divide and conquer our Fiji chapter over a few posts. Bear with me on this! Let’s start with the good bits…
Believe it or not our flight went directly from Christchurch to Nadi and was only 4 hours long. As a Brit, I couldn’t believe how quick and easy this journey was and would make it many many times if I was a New Zealander!
Anyway, back to it.
Our flight left at around 3.30pm so we arrived in the early evening after a fairly unremarkable and straightforward trip. By the time we collected our luggage and went through passport patrol – all of the usual slogs – we knew we wouldn’t arrive at our hotel until quite late, so we pre-booked the ‘Welcome Pack’. This included an airport transfer to a hotel where we were to spend one night, before heading out to the actual islands. Simple, right?
Not so much.
I know I said that I would start with the good bits… But honestly sorting out this airport transfer was way more effort than it should have been. We struggled to find the teeny little office at the end of a random (not-signposted) corridor in the airport to inform them that we had arrived and then had to wait quite a while for our lift to arrive. Plus it was bloody boiling and we had been travelling for a few hours, so patience was naturally running a little thinner than usual.
Eventually, our taxi arrived. Granted, it wasn’t air conditioned or clean and had a pretty funky smell, but it got us from A to B and we eventually pulled up to our hotel: Aquarius on the Beach.
The hotel very much reminded me of a hostel, which was sad as I thought we had moved onwards and upwards on the accommodation front :'(. Nevertheless, the man at the desk was really sweet. PLUS they were still serving pizzas at the bar so we were able to have a bite at 10 pm, before settling in for a very average night in our very average room.
Disclaimer – I know this all sounds a little depressing, but I promise the good bit starts soon!!
Starting the Fijian Chapter
Our first full day in Fiji and our first glimpse of paradise.
The following morning, we were up early to catch our transfer to Port Denarau (the transfer was also included as part of the Welcome Pack). We hopped onto the school bus (at least there was AC this time) and sat back for around 20 minutes enjoying the drive to the Port. This was our first sighing of Fiji in daylight and the excitement was building.
For those of you who don’t know, the only way to get to the Fijian Islands is by ferry. Or seaplane. Or helicopter if you’re really important. Given that we were backpacking on a budget, the latter was sadly not on our agenda! Though it would have been great as they fly you directly to your island…
Anyway, we got on the boat.
The ‘ferry’ basically sets sail all day dropping off and collecting travellers as it goes. Dependent on how far from the Port your island is, it can be a pretty long ride… Bring snacks!
Though busy, it was a beautiful day and after months abroad our skin had become accustomed to the harsh rays so we sat up on the top deck. Don’t worry – we used suncream too but even suncream wouldn’t stop those rays had this been the first stop on our great adventure. My point is, while many other Europeans were (sensibly) cowering in the shade, we were able to bask in the glorious light and point out all the islands we would like to one day live on.
The time finally came and our resort name was called out. Hoorah!! We headed down eagerly to the little speedboats and watched as our suitcases were quite literally chucked onto another speedboat… Fortunately landing safely, before both boats zoomed towards our own little sanctuary for the next 4 nights.
To quickly contextualise: We were only meant to stay in our first resort for 2 nights however Cyclone Winston hit a month or so before our arrival and tragically wiped out so much, including one of the resorts we had booked in for. Seeing the damage that had been caused and was still in the process of being repaired was really shocking, but the way that the communities had regrouped was truly astounding.
Pulling up to our first resort (Blue Lagoon) could not have been more perfect for us. It was the first time we had been welcomed with song, exclamations of ‘Bula!’, refreshing juices, floral necklaces and genuine smiles all around. It was at this moment that we knew Fiji was a good fit for us!
At the risk of boring you with a very long post, I’ve decided to create full reviews of each resort we stayed in. For now, I will just provide an itsy bitsy/generic rating system of our itinerary:
- Blue Lagoon Resort – X4 Nights – ★★★★★
- Nanuya Island Resort – X2 Nights – ★★★
- Paradise Cove Resort – X2 Nights – ★★★★★(★)
- Octopus Resort – X3 Nights – ★★
Also Worth Mentioning
Our travel agents completely messed up our Fiji bookings originally. After a lot of drama, this was resolved and resulted in us being upgraded in each resort. Silver lining or what?!
I wanted to mention this as what we paid for the trip should have been a lot more considering the beautiful rooms we were provided with. It’s how we would ultimately like to travel but after a few months backpacking is not something that would have been feasible. So, despite all the mix-ups we were really treated to a life of luxury!
Though we stayed in 2 average places, we also were fortunate enough to visit 2 of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen on this earth (so far!).
Part of Fiji’s appeal is that every island is so different, providing a completely unique experience for each and every guest. Make sure you stay tuned for the full reviews as I promise the photos will be worth a peek.
A Turn for the Worse
Fiji was meant to be our 2 weeks of ultimate relaxation before returning home to reality. And actually, it really was perfect… Until the very last day. Or rather, what was supposed to be the last day.
Unfortunately, life rarely runs as smoothly as you hope it will and for us this meant staying an extra week. I know what you must be thinking. An extra week in Fiji?! You’re so lucky!!
In hindsight we were lucky, but at the time we were terrified, broke, and so ready to come home. Instead, we had to stick out the Cyclone that hit and just take every day as it came.
But more on this later!