My first encounter with Fiji was Survivor Fiji. It was years ago and the only thing I remember is a group of beautiful islands in South Pacific. This is also where they filmed the Blue Lagoon, Cast Away. So when I planned my trip I inserted Fiji, also because Indonesian does not need visa which kinda limit where I can go to in the region.
The first stop of my adventure in Fiji is the capital city Suva after a short 3 hours flight from Auckland. Got my rental car (they’re freaking expensive in Fiji!) and start driving south west towards Pacific Harbour. Man the roads here are whacked. After New Zealand, took me an hour to adjust to the road conditions here and the country-wide 80kph speed limit. But all this has its own charm. I get to drive slow, taking in the views, and just chill. I think that’s what Fiji is all about. Chill.
I spent my first night in Pacific Harbour for my shark dive in the morning with Beqa Adventure Divers. It was just an amazing experience diving with the bull sharks at the Beqa Lagoon. We did 2 dives, all professionally guided, and there was never any feeling of fear around these sharks. It was just amazing.
Then I spent another night at Yasuca Island (mid way between Suva and Nadi) but it was not very eventful. It was raining all day long and there’s not much to do around. I did try paddle board for the first time.
Nadi is supposedly the largest city and the gateway into Fiji. Perhaps it’s partly because of the rain, but I didn’t find it too interesting. I thought the best things I did there was a facial and a seafood dinner at a Chinese restaurant!
After a night in Nadi I flew to Labasa to catch my ride with Tui Tai Expeditions for a 5 days cruise/dive around the northeast part of Fiji. I think it’s a good way to see Fiji outside of the main island if you don’t have much time.
We visited local villages (not those touristy ones), hike to waterfalls, went to the international date line (Fiji is located across the 180° longitude) and dive around Somosomo Strait. Good mix of activities. Crews are amazing, while food can be a bit better but you can’t have everything. Most importantly, other people on the boat are all very nice, you need this because you don’t want to get stucked in a boat with unpleasant people for days!
I hurt myself for the first time (and hopefully last!) when I stepped on sea urchin on our first beach kayak/swim. They hurt like hell and I had to get it treated. But one of the scariest things ever happened 2 days later on a dive. I witnessed symptoms of decompression sickness (I think) on a fellow diver as we were finishing a dive. He was unable to move and his whole body was stiff. I was with him and man it was scary. He recovered after 24 hours but it reminded me of how easy things can go wrong. So live life to the fullest because you never know when it’s your time.
Fiji was great. The people are amazingly friendly. They don’t try to rip you off when they know you’re tourist, it was quite the opposite. They refused my payment when they treated my sea urchin wound and gave me antibiotics. Even the locals on the street you can have a good conversation with. They also love their music and dance! I took a leap of faith and actually picked up a couple of hitchhikers. It felt good. Maybe it’s a self preservation thing, but it’s nice to give back sometimes. As a wise man I met in a driving trip in China once said… Love the world and there’s a good chance the world will love you back!
Bula vinaka, Fiji! Till next time!