During July when Melbourne is at its coldest and all one can do is dream about warm beaches, bright blue waters and squishing sand between your toes. I was lucky enough to find very cheap tickets not only to Fiji but to Los Angeles. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the price, a round trip to Fiji and Los Angeles cost us each $930 via Fiji Airways. We spent five days in Fiji and a week and a half in LA visiting my family.
I was able to find a five-star resort off the Naucacuvu Island called Paradise Cove. It is a fairly new resort and it had all the amenities. I booked using Agoda.com, this website had some of the cheapest deals for amazing places. You have to purchase your meal plans, which included three meals per day with the resort, and due to being on a recluse island you wouldn’t have much of a choice, we paid $108 FJD. As soon as I booked, the receptionist from Paradise Cove emailed me right away, giving us the options of transportation to the island. I decided on taking the boat which cost $168 FJD each way. I also arraigned for transport from the airport to the seaport Denarau which cost $20 pp. The resort booked the Yasawa Flyer via Awesome Adventures.
We left cold and rainy Melbourne in November and landed in warm and humid Nadi, Fiji at 6 a.m. As your walking through the terminal you can hear Fijian’s playing the guitar and singing local songs, putting you in vacation mood right away. We immediately started hearing “Bula” which means welcome/hello in Fijian.
There was a slight hiccup when we got to the Awesome Adventures counter to get out tickets, apparently the resort only booked for two when there was three of us. It was a quick fix, but the receptionist made it seem like we were going to be screwed. We boarded the ship and sat below deck, since it was air-conditioned but it reeked of gasoline fumes. So not only was I tired, but I was getting a headache from the fumes. Aside from that it was such a gorgeous view as the boat flew from island to island stopping at each resort. Our destination was at the gateway of the Yasawa Islands and it was one of those views that just takes your breath away.
After three hours we had finally arrived! A small boat came out to greet us and we had to jump from one boat to the other as small waves rocked us back and fourth. The water in Fiji was so blue that you would think someone had added blue dye to it, but it was just one of mother natures many beauties.
As our boat approached Paradise Cove the resort employees greeted us on the beach singing us a song of welcome with big shouts of Bula! and even bigger smiles. I have to mention how nice and lovely Fijian people are, I have never met so many soft-spoken people before. It was a great way to be welcomed to Paradise, my eyes couldn’t take in the beauty of the place or even believe that places like this existed. As we were welcomed we were given cold towels and a tropical juice non-alcoholic but refreshing.
Native flowers and fruit trees such as, hibiscus and mango paved the way to our bungalow in the garden area. The piece de resistance was the out-door shower. It had raw edge slate on the floor and had uneven brick sticking out from the shower wall. The shower head was the size of a dinner plate and on both sides they had planted birds of paradise. It made you feel like you were in the middle of the jungle.
The place was ideal, and the name was reiterated in just the look and motif of the place and it didn’t feel cheesy. It felt natural and that is what I loved about the place. Just like the food they supplied. They grow all the veggies and fruit in a garden just behind the resort and the fish was literally the catch of the day. I like places like these that are all about sustainability.
This is the type of resort you want to stay at if, your looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and from large amounts of tourists. We barely saw other guest while we were there. During dinner service I counted no more than 35 people most nights. Even though they advertise WiFi, the connection was not all that great, but did it really matter? Nope! We enjoyed our time doing absolutely nothing. We lounged around in hammocks or under our own little hunt and watched the waves roll by.
The resort did have activities that were posted each day, ranging from basket weaving class, Fijian cooking classes, snorkeling and kayaking, to name a few, which were free or reasonably priced from $10-$30 FJD. One of the first activities we did was visit a local village.
Soso Village has 400 residents and they are still recovering from a cyclone that hit them this year. The village was approximately a 20 minute boat ride away. The people were welcoming and Bula was heard everywhere with smiles. We headed to the Chiefs house where we were welcomed and sat Indian style in a circle, while he chanted and blessed our visit. We were given the ok to visit the village and proceeded towards the school. We got a chance to visit a few school children who had just finished their times tables. We then walked to one of the two churches of the village, it was decorated with beautiful wood carvings on the ceiling and walls. We then went to the local crafts market and purchased a few souvenirs.
Back at the resort we passed the time snorkeling off the beach and just a few feet into our cove. We also paid for a boat ride snorkeling trip at a near by island, where the water was deep. The water was so clear, and each coral had so many fish inhabiting it, each time I think I have seen something breath taking, mother nature surprises me again. I also couldn’t stop singing “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid and I felt like a 7-year-old kid saying “hello fishies”. It just makes you think that locations like this need to be persevered and we need to take better care of our planet.
When it came to the food and drinks, were treated to three meals a day, and our dinner included a five coarse meal. The food was a bit hit or miss, I mean it was resort food after all. The style of food was Fijian and Western. I ate so much pineapple, coconut milk and root vegetables, that by the time I arrived in LA I couldn’t wait to eat a taco. I often ordered the specials and especially ordered anything seafood. The meals had great presentation, especially the desserts. The drinks were a bit costly and the cocktails were not the best tasting, as a bartender I can make better ones, but we enjoyed a bottle of wine with dinner and a beer here and there.
There was one evening were Kava, the local drink that is known to relax you, was provided. We sat down with the locals in a circle as they played an acoustic guitar and sang songs. They passed around either a high tide (large) or low tide (small) bowl to drink. It tasted like wood and dirt, the color of it was milky brown; and as soon as you drank it you felt your tongue go numb. I felt a bit silly and loose afterwards.
Every night we were treated to turn down service, which I loved because the maid would turn on the a/c. It was especially needed after a long day of sun and heat it felt amazing to walk into a cool room.
Getting back to the mainland became an issue. About 30 min before we expected our boat back to the main land, we were informed that it broke down. Lucky enough there was a sea plane that just has arrived to pick up other guests. We had to make a quick decision and fork over a few extra hundred, which hurt our pockets, in order to get back on time and not miss our plane ride to LA.
I would highly recommend going to Fiji and if not Paradise Cove, stay on a reclusive island resort. Paradise Cove was exactly what the name insinuated. It was paradise! The views were astonishing and it is a place where you can get away and rest on a lounge chair, go snorkeling or just take in the beauty of island life. So, if you want to get away and experience nature at its best, get on that plane and head to Fiji, you wont regret it!