You've been selected to participate in a beta for a new release of our website. If you do not want to participate in this beta,please click here >
We spent five nights on the three-deck ship, sipping cocktails on daybeds and working through our differences in our cushy stateroom. We, along with a dozen other guests, sailed along the island of Taveuni and out to islands where local chiefs allowed the Tui Tai exclusive access to harbor. The crew Zodiac’d us off to lonely beaches with a picnic basket and a radio to call for a pickup. We named new dive sites, kayaked, leaped from waterfalls, and snuggled as the crew sang breathy songs about the sunset. Five-night cruises from $1,794. —Tim Neville Photo courtesy of Tui Tai Expeditions. This appeared in the August/September 2014 issue.
A seasonal delicacy, nama is best likened to seaweed caviar. The texture of the tiny brine-filled pearls is similar to salmon roe, clustered along a seaweed stalk. Eaten with sugar and chili, they make a tasty snack at the Suva market. Here they are selling for about US$1 per plate.
You might be surprised to see so many Indians in Fiji. Many arrived as indentured servants between 1879 and 1916, brought by the British to work on sugar cane plantations. Today, people of Indian heritage make up about 40% of the population. This colorful temple, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, is filled with intricate carvings and details you could spend hours examining. Craftspeople were brought over from India to complete the decoration. There's also a cafe on the grounds where you can get tea and light vegetarian food. If you plan to visit, wear conservative clothing (no sleeveless tops or knees showing) or borrow a sarong when you arrive. Photo by JerryDP/Wikimedia Commons.
I hesitated before booking a resort in Fiji rather than running off to somewhere "local" to absorb the cultural part of Fiji, but I was happy to find that even my resort drew in bits of culture like this fern tree carved statue. These faces of Fiji line the path between resorts and catch a delightful evening glow from the setting sun.
Bula! Welcome to Fiji! At the heart of the South Pacific, Fiji is blessed with 333 tropical islands that are home to happiness. Famous for its soft coral diving, white sand beaches, and pristine natural environment, Fiji is a leader in eco-tourism. For business travel there is no better place halfway between North America and Asia. See more of the South Pacific with the Air New Zealand Explorer Pass.
Afraid of sharks? You shouldn't be. Attacks on humans are rare. But don't take my word for it, why not overcome your fear by meeting them face-to-face in Fiji! Off the coast of Fiji's Beqa Island there lies a protected Marine Reserve that's home to 8 different species of shark. Certified SCUBA divers can visit this reef to watch an amazing underwater spectacle in a safe & controlled environment. There are no cages, but plenty of staff to keep the sharks from getting too close using long poles to shoo them away. You may see a multitude of large Reef Sharks, Bull Sharks, and even massive 15 foot Tigers swim & feed amongst huge schools of tropical fish. It's a wild adrenaline rush experienced in a beautiful underwater environment. Book a shark dive with Beqa Adventure Divers while staying at the wonderful Uprising Beach Resort. Located in Pacific Harbour on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu.
For a real rockstar retreat, escape to exclusive-hire Dolphin Island boutique hotel, perched on a petite isle just north of Fiji's main island Viti Levu. With tropical-modern interiors by stylist Virginia Fisher, it boasts just four elegant rooms, a gorgeous entertaining bure, a romantic sleep-out boudoir and a 13-acre playground of gardens and beaches. Offshore, aquatic adventures beckon, including top-notch diving, snorkelling and sailing.Spend a romantic night à deux 'glamping' in the Hilltop Sleep-out Bure, a short stroll away on the other side of the island. Partly open-air, but with enveloping mosquito nets, this lantern-lit, thatched boudoir comes with a floaty four-poster, cushion-strewn sofa and lounge chairs, and a shower. Is there a better way to wake up to ocean views?
Sometimes things don't go as planned, but the fiasco leads you to a whole new adventure. It had rained quite heavily for a few days before we were due to arrive at Yasawa Island Resort in Fiji. The island has a very nice grass landing strip, but on the day we were due to arrive it was more of a soggy mess of mud and you certainly could not land a plane. So instead we got to fly out to the island on a little sea plane. The barefoot pilot pulled the bags out of the back of the plane and waded through the water to leave the bags at baggage claim (the beach). A pick up from the resort came out to meet us, but the road was very muddy and badly rutted due to the rains. It was the only vehicle that could make it over the road, but there was not enough room in the cab for all of the passengers. The ladies got to sit in side while the men were hanging on tight in the bed of the pickup. Quite and adventurous start to a wonderful stay with the people of Yasawa Island Resort! I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
This dive joint is where locals go for fiery Indian dishes like goat curry (and other curries), chicken vindaloo, chicken biryani, roti and more. The funky scene is more street food than restaurant, so just be prepared for less than pristine conditions. Photo by Eliazar Parra Cardenas/Flickr.
Ceviche-style fish (called kokoda in Fiji), root-vegetable chips, lobster and other seafood are served up in a laid-back atmosphere in this locally owned spot for fairly authentic Fijian cuisine. Coconut milk figures in many preparations, and there's also fresh coconut milk to drink. Live music and friendly service make it a good choice in Port Denarau. Just bring along some mosquito repellant in the evenings. Ask your hotel about the location, as it is difficult to pinpoint through Google Maps. Photo courtesy of Nadina Authentic Fijian Restaurant/Facebook.
These scorpion-like crabs, called mana, live in the mangroves around Viti Levu, Fiji's main island. You can buy a woven bag of them at the Suva market for US$12. They taste delicious boiled, shelled, and soaked in miti, the ubiquitous cold sauce made from fresh coconut milk, onion, tomato and chili, with a side of ota, the local ferns.
Sometimes, you just need to buy a good war club. Or local black pearls, if you happen to be a lover, not a fighter. Nadi Handicraft Centre is a one-stop destination for quality handicrafts without the hassle of haggling. They also sell clothing, leather goods and pearls. And, of course, carved wooden kava bowls are always a popular souvenir, whether or not you fancy the drink itself. Nadi Handicraft Centre is located on Main Street in Nadi. Photo by Jo Munday/Flickr.
Flavours of Fiji Cooking School offers a tasty break from the beach, with classes that include "Fijian Feasts," "Indian Thali," and "Tropical Sweets," plus special kids' classes. The half-day courses are limited to 10 or 12 students, and showcase seasonal seafood, root crops, and local produce, while teaching an exotic array of local-style curries, homemade chutneys, fresh tropical juices and local sweets. It's important to note that there's a large Indian population in Fiji, so their culinary traditions are an important element of local cuisine. Image courtesy of Flavours of Fiji Cooking School.
Owned by Nadi locals, this cafe earns high marks for its coffee. But dine on the eclectic menu and you may well be enjoying fruits, vegetables, chicken, duck and lamb from the owners' 30-acre farm. Bulaccino serves a hearty Aussie-style breakfast, and offers sandwiches, burgers, salads and hot dishes ranging from curries to fish and chips at lunch. Dinner includes tapas, pizza, fondues and grilled seafood platters. There's also a kids' menu. Best spot to dine is in the garden out back. Photo by Eric Mueller/Flickr.
This garden, created by the late actor Raymond Burr (of "Perry Mason" and "Ironsides" TV fame), contains more than 2,000 different kinds of orchids, covering 20 hectares of grounds. Burr started it in 1977 to house his own private collection. The unusual name comes from the outline of the hills behind the property, which resemble a sleeping giant. in addition to orchids of all sorts (both native and non-native), the garden is home to a collection of native Fijian plants and lily ponds. It's a lovely spot to relax and refresh from a long flight. The Garden of the Sleeping Giant is located in the foothills of the Nausori Highlands, about a 10-minute drive north of Nadi. It's best to drive or take a cab - and be sure to negotiate for a round trip. You might also consider including the nearby mud baths. Photo by Tim O'Shea /Flickr.
Working on my photography skills using a skittish, shy, and tiny hermit crab may not have been the easiest task, but I managed to snap a couple fantastic portraits of this little guy when he came out of his shell. He reminds me of this quote: "Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag." -Alexander Solzhenitsyn-
Sit outside at one of the many tables by the water at this Port Denarau spot for tasty Indian, which also has some Chinese, Malaysian, and Thai dishes as well. The Indian menu includes kebabs, tandooris, biryanis and curries, with items like Fiji Crab Masala (made with mud crabs) incorporating local ingredients. Goat curry and butter chicken are favorites with the mostly tourist crowd. If you've had enough of the outdoors, the inside seating area (with a bar) is also pleasant and air-conditioned. Photo courtesy of Indigo Indian and Asian Restaurant and Bar.
Hot Bread Kitchen is a local chain serving savory pies, sausage rolls, fresh sandwiches, Fijian bread, and all sorts of pastries. Great to grab and go, and kids seem especially fond of the chicken pies. Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier /Flickr.
Our first day in Kadavu, the fourth biggest island in Fiji, about 100 km south of the main island but still wonderfully undeveloped, we decided to take a hike to a local village. We gained the most surprising of all tour guides, a 6 year old boy carrying a bag of rice the size of his own body, who brought us to a hidden waterfall and swimming hole outside his village. He took of his shirt and started to climb a very steep cliff. Although we were holding our breath, we were delighted by his bravery and joy and he lept into the blue pool below. We were joined by about 10 other kids who had just gotten out of school who wanted to show off their climbing and jumping skills. We were staying about 5 km away at Matava eco-resort and routinely talk about going back to that magical place. We would love to venture back to that village to get the guts up to climb and leap ourselves:)
On a private island, this ultra-luxurious resort offers plenty of privacy. It often hosts celebs; in fact, Oprah stayed in one of the villas you can see out on the tip of the island.
Rain is synonymous with Suva. Navigating Suva Market in the wet is a skill no local can live without. Inside, professional traders man the stalls, leaving local women to sit outside in the rain. Many of these women have travelled overnight to sell their produce. There's no haggling in the market, just fair prices for beautiful fresh local food. On the left, fresh duruka (from sugar cane) is piled in bundles, to be husked and cooked in coconut milk.
If you like a small-group experience, Coral Cats' Wanaka catamaran is a great choice for a day-trip to the Mamanuca islands. The speedy cat heads out from Port Denarau towards the islands of Malolo Laila, Tavarua, Namotu, and out to the outer reefs. Snorkelers (gear included) can check out the amazing array of tropical fish. A hearty barbecue lunch is served on the island of Malolo Laila, with time afterwards to loll on the white sand beach or swim. The Wanaka's crew make this a particularly joyful trip, especially for children, sharing local lore and experiences. Photo courtesy Coral Cats Sailing Fiji Ltd.
Sellers come from all over Fiji's main island of Viti Levu to sell their produce at the Saturday market. Chili was introduced by Indian migrants over a hundred years ago, and is now a staple of the indigenous cuisine.
Saturdays at noon, the Fiji Military Forces Band struts its stuff on Main Street near Queens road. It's equal parts marching band and Fijian fun, with members sporting white sarongs with jagged hems. The band participates in military tattoos around the world. Check out the link for a video of one of their performances. Photo by Garry Knight/Flickr.
The island in Fiji where the movie "Castaway" with Tom Hanks was filmed...snorkling and diving here was awesome...my wife and I got to see one of the largest Eagle Rays I have ever seen in over 38 years of scuba diving.
Fiji's first national park, these dunes rise up from the ocean in undulating shapes that make for great photo ops. But more than that, they're home to 22 species of birds, as well as an ancient burial site dating to about 2,600 years ago. Pottery, tools and human remains continue to be discovered as the dunes shift. Many of the finds are on display at the Fiji Museum in Suva. Photo by RodBland/Flickr.
Getting to Yasawa Island Resort and Spa is most of the fun. I learned the runway sloped down, but was not aware it was made of grass! After a bumpy van ride you are delivered to an oasis in the middle of nowhere. This is the view of the beach near Bure Sub Zero.
Drinking kava is woven into Fijian society, with kava ceremonies holding great importance. You might encounter a simple ceremony in a shop or informal hotel gathering, but bigger ceremonies are part of social, political, and religious life. Kava is a root, which is ground or pounded, then mixed with water and strained through what might look like a sock. Beautiful carved wooden kava bowls are a great souvenir. Kava tastes a bit nasty, and will leave your tongue tingling and your mood relaxed—but you've got to try it, at least once. Photo by Dave Lonsdale/Flickr.
© 2013 AFAR Media