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Fiji, the paradise destination for honeymooners, a 300 islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, and a very distant place from home, exactly 16.000 km away.
As you have probably seen in my last article, we didn’t plan this trip at all, and we chose this destination one day before departing from Singapore, so we didn’t know much about the paradise we were about to discover.
Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands, of which 110 are inhabited, that can be accessed only by boat, plane or helicopter.
On our first night in Fiji, we had to sleep somewhere next to the airport because we arrived very late in the night. The main airport in on the big island of Viti Levu, but I do not recommend you to stay here if you are looking for a relaxing authentic experience. We researched a little and saw that each part of the archipelago is different, and that the North islands are smaller and more secluded, and the water is more turquoise. First thing in the morning, we flipped the coin and choose to visit Taveuni Island, in the North part, and in our last three days to visit another island in the West. We booked the first hotel on Booking.com and we went straight to the airport. The next flight to Taveuni, known also as the Garden of Fiji, was in 20 minutes but it had only 12 seats. After adding our luggages and our total weight, they decided to let us in.
This was my first flight with a small propeller airplane, but somehow I felt safer than in an Airbus, maybe because I could see everything that the two pilots were doing :)) And there was also that mesmerising view .
We landed on a small “airport” on Taveuni Island, and from there we took a 30 minutes car ride and another 15 minutes boat ride. You can see right away that certain parts of Fiji are still authentic and natural, only from the fact that they don’t even have paved roads.
I can’t really describe the feeling that we had when we first stepped out of that small boat, on this white sand beach, exactly as the sun was setting. We were greeted by the friendliest Fijian woman, that had that motherly figure, someone that was there to take care of us in a totally different way that I encountered until then in a hotel. And I was right, because Lusia showed us around in a relaxed manner, exchanging the usual, formal way, with a cosy, familiar one.
We were in Paradise and we felt like it. We were so grateful that everything worked out perfectly, only two hours before we had no idea where to go next, and by chance ( or not), we ended up on the most beautiful, secluded island, in the cosiest, authentic resort. In that moment on the beach, watching the sunset, we felt that something was really guiding us in this adventure, and it was not only the lucky coin.
From the moment we stepped on the Qamea land, everyone from the staff knew our name, and at every step they were genuinely interested in our wellbeing. At every encounter around the resort, you would receive a warm smile and a happy “Bula!”.
Bula is “Hello” in fijian, but this word literally means life. How beautiful is that?:)
Vinaka means Thank You.
I was fascinated about this first introduction in their culture and in their way of life, through these two simple but authentic greetings. Everyone was using them, locals and tourists, anywhere in Fiji.
Kava is a plant from the Western Pacific and the roots are used to produce a drink with sedative, anesthetic, euphoriant, and entheogenic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity.
Every evening, after a beautiful romantic dinner, we would join the locals in a reed enclosure, sitting cross -legged around the kava bowl and singing and drinking along with them. This is where we also received Fijian names, my boyfriend was called Uro Toto Leevu,( meaning tall beautiful handsome, not that he needed this confidence boost), and I was called Downlo Mani ( my beautiful love).
I can confess now that those moments, on a small island in the Pacific Ocean, drinking that strange potion, sitting next to him, talking and singing along with the locals, made me feel euphoric and in love, totally in love. And I am pretty sure it was not from the Kava:)
The songs were in Fijian, and all of them were love songs, through them getting to know the beauty of this natural language, with flowing, warm sounds.
Between each song, everyone from the circle was drinking a cup of Kava, but in a certain way: First of all, you were supposed to say how full you want your cup to be, using the “slang” low, mid or big wave. The one in charge passes you the cup, you have to clap one time, you drink, clap three times and after you say Vinaka.
I can’t say that I felt much, but my mouth was numb for several minutes after each cup.
Also in those evenings, I felt their genuine warmth of the people, their kindness and a certain native happiness.
“If you don’t get it today you’ll get it another day. If you can’t do it today, you’ll be able to do it another day.” The best way to get along is to take it easy, and not to get worried about what happens later.
A person who worries about the future is said to be lomaocaoca.
Traditional Fijian society is based on communal principles derived from village life. People in villages share the obligations and rewards of community life and are still led by a hereditary Chief.Remove shoes and stoop when entering a home, and quietly sit cross-legged on the pandanus mat. It is polite to keep your head at a lower level than your host’s. It is also very important to respect personal space.
More about customs and traditions on Island Spirit.org
Early morning, attending the yoga class
After breakfast, we were enjoying the wild, secluded beach
Everyday at 12:00 there was a boat leaving for snorkelling or diving
And then, the perfect lunch with him . . .
In other days, there were excursions on Taveuni, the garden island
After an “exhausting” trip, the SPA
And the beautiful room that we barely used
But no matter what, every evening, we were together on the beach to enjoy an amazing sunset, and maybe a rainbow too
Yes, I have this thing that is not letting me enjoy something to the fullest, because I am thinking that maybe I am missing something out, maybe there is something better than this. But in this trip, I’ve learnt my lesson.
My train of thought was something like this:” We have only 7 days in Fiji, and this archipelago has hundreds of islands. We have to see different parts. When will I ever get back here?! We need to experience more! ”
So we booked also 4 nights in the South- West part, on Malolo island. Of course that we’ve booked it on the same day because the only plane back to the main island was only in that day, so we had to leave one day earlier than we were supposed to, only because the planes are overbooked all the time. But I can’t tell you how hard it was to get there. Long story short, we arrived on the big island at sunset, but there was no ferry at that hour to get us to the other island. And I didn’t want to waste another night in an Ibis hotel near the airport. So we asked around and managed to get a private boat, but it was quite pricey.
And of course that often, you can’t take a picture of special moments like that one, you can only hope to remember that emotion for ever and ever.
We did some research before choosing this island, but apparently there was nothing to do here. Don’t get me wrong, the view was spectacular but that was pretty much it.
Maybe the shock was pretty intense because we had such a special experience in Qamea, but here, everything was more commercial, the resort looked like any other 3-4 stars resort, there were around 20 couples that at 10 pm were already sleeping, and the staff was friendly but somehow you could feel that the relationship was more distant. And the pictures online are way better than the reality.
At least there were water sports that we could do, like snorkelling, diving, kayaking, paddle boarding and the baby catamaran.
At least we had Corona and beautiful views for pictures:)
We had time for ourselves, and we had fun even if we were feeling like in a reality tv show: “Couples stranded on an island, who will make it back home still together??!!!” :))
If you ever arrive in Fiji, you will see flyers and all sorts of ads for Cloud 9. You can usually book a trip there, but it will take one hour by boat from the big island of Viti Levu. But Malolo Island had at least this benefit, it was only 10 minutes away.
Boats, planes and jet skis are lining up to drop off people in need for some fun after all that relaxing time on the beach.
We told out boat driver to pick us up in two hours but we ended up to stay six. Everyone was having a good time, drinking, eating pizza, snorkelling and jumping into the azure water.
And we even made some friends, and guess what?! they were staying in the same resort as we did :)) It was our last day in Fiji though . . .
Later on, we had dinner all together and exchanged phone numbers and emails. Who knows where we will meet again? In fact we already did:)) We went to a concert in Brooklyn a month later with the cute brunette in the picture above 🙂 So bonding while travelling is fun, even if you are in a honeymooners destination.
The last sunset in Fiji was spectacular, a warm farewell from the Paradise so far away from home. . .