So, having left Nadi, we spent five nights on the coral coast at Beachouse, a beautiful resort near Sigatoka. While we managed a bit of kayaking, swimming and snorkelling, we sadly also spent a fair amount of time sheltering from the rain, and watching England lose at rugby. Fed up of the rain, we decided if you can’t beat it then join it and get out there. We went on a jungle hike with an ancient local called Juta, who led us to a waterfall in the local rainforest, while pointing out the local medicinal plants and trees, and giving us the history of the islands people. The track (and waterfall) were incredibly muddy, but on reaching it it would have been rude not to have a swim!!
Our next stop was Suva, the capital city. As a larger version of Nadi, and having heard mixed reviews, we were unsure what to expect. Indeed, Suva is what you expect of a tropical capital city, but we had a great day wandering the markets, eating good food and visiting the national museum. This was possibly one of the best museums in the world. Exhibits included giant war canoes, cannibal utensils, a postbox, a mouldy bat, a nailed parrot and a realistic display of coral made of papier-mâché. What’s not to love!?
Having spent the day in Suva, we boarded the Lomaiviti Princess for Taveuni. After 18 hours on the ferry, sleeping on the floor between the cafeteria tables, surrounded by a mix of snoring fat Fijian men and squalling children (which, if experienced, is exactly as bad as it sounds) we arrived in paradise.
Taveuni is not called the garden island for nothing. As the third largest island in Fiji, and yet the main agricultural centre, it is a rich mixture of many different plants and crops, a sea of colour and foliage, tended by the friendliest people in the entire world. We stayed at Maravu, a resort on the northern tip of the island, near the village of Matei.
Activities for the week included:
a) Snorkelling on the stunning Rainbow Reef, amongst myriad colours of fish and coral (imagine an idealised coral reef and you’re there), with a great fun 45 min speedboat trip each way to get there, catching big air off big waves, and big bruises off big troughs!
b) Catching the local bus to a series of waterfalls in Bouma National Park, swimming in the plunge pools and riding back in the bed of a local’s pickup truck.
c) Buying ALL the bhajis from a street vendor
d) Getting lost in the jungle trying to find the natural water slide near Somosomo, being helped by a friendly Fijian, then riding the Rapids.
e) Waiting two hours in Somosomo for a bus, so eating our way round the village, including cake at the back of somebody’s house.
f) Muddy snorkelling near Honeymoon Island and antagonising a Moray Eel. As a result Andrew got excited and managed to step on a razor clam, bleeding all over the beach. Don’t worry, the foot is still attached.
g) Enjoying the diesel generator fumes on our evening walks as the village gets its daily three hours of electricity. Nothing like a raucous, fumy diesel engine ruining the tropical peace!
Take it from us, if you ever go to Fiji, head to Taveuni! It was with a heavy heart we had to leave this beautiful, scenic, friendly island. But, on Sunday we boarded the Princess again, but this time only the five hour trip to Savusavu, a coastal village on Vanua Levu (the second largest island). It is a pretty place, with a harbour filled by expat yachties from American and Europe – a strange contrast to the Fijian village lifestyle of Taveuni.
Whilst full of exclusive members clubs that we (and most Fijians) can’t get into, we opted for a local restaurant and indulged in a fantastic curry (there is a large Indian population in Fiji, dating back to the British Empire and indentured workers), washed down with a Fiji Bitter. Ahhhhhhh!