We decided to kickstart our seven months of backpacking hardship gently, so rather than heading to the chaos of Asia and work our way out, we opted to an island getaway to Fiji and then work our way back closer to home. We flew from London to Nadi, the capital of Fiji via a couple of hours stopover in LA and were therefore suitably exhausted when we arrived.
Nadi really only serves as a base for island-hopping in Fiji, however the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is worth checking out whilst there as it’s the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere.
332 islands collectively make up Fiji so travelling around is predominantly island-hopping. We decided to focus on the outer Yasawa group, starting with Tavewa Island. There were only eight of us on that part of the island and no running water, only rainwater to drink, no mirrors (probably a blessing!!) and we were lucky enough to have electricity from a generator but only when it was dark for a few lights in the main hall.
We went snorkelling on the coral reefs and saw huge brightly coloured fish, baby turtles and a sea snake. We went fishing (no rods just reels) and cooked our catch on an open fire on a deserted island sitting on palm leaves, using leaves as plates and eating coconuts fresh off the tree.
We went to the island where they filmed Blue Lagoon and the island where they filmed Castaway, we went to a local church service in one of the villages, where all the men played guitars and sang beautiful harmonies, and went to some beautiful caves where we dived into gorgeous lagoons.
We then moved on to Mana Island, which was very picturesque, we stayed in little bure (huts on the beach) which provided some amazing sunrise and sunset photo opportunities (some from the comfort of a jacuzzi on the beach!)
We had children from the local school come and do a little concert, they were very sweet and fascinated by us, and gave us sweet-smelling frangipani garlands.
We tried kava which is a traditional drink that locals used to drink back in the day to wash down their cannibal feasts! It’s a root mixed with water, which looks and tastes like muddy water and is apparently a form of narcotic!
From Mana Island we travelled to the party destination of Beachcomber Island in a little fishing boat through rough seas, the boat had a huge crack running along the bottom which got bigger with every wave we landed on – all part of the adventure though!
We spent our last day in Fiji back on the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji’s capital, Suva, where we went to Fiji National Museum and learned a lot about cannibalism, amongst other subjects – I hadn’t realised that they only stopped practicing in Fiji 120 years ago and that we also used to practice it in the UK! Apparently the final insult to the enemy is to make a drinking bowl out of their skull – lovely!
Fiji was a stunning destination and the perfect place for some R&R. The fortnight seemed to pass very quickly but I guess time flies when you’re having fun and I personally don’t know what Tom Hanks’ character was complaining about, I’d love to be a Castaway there!