Like ciao and aloha, bula is a term used for both hello and goodbye. The first time you say bula to Fiji, you will fall in love. Our Expert Traveller Jaclyn Decle certainly did along with a small group she travelled with and shares the top five things you must enjoy on this remote South Pacific island:
1. Enjoy the Luxury
Seeing the views of Denerau (a small island about 5 km north of Nadi) from our hotel is like looking at a postcard with an endless Pacific Ocean amidst swaying palm trees. There are just no bad angles in this tropical island paradise. Specialty cafes, high-end restaurants, fabulous nightlife – the hotels are hotspots and the place to be. There’s a selection of mid to high-end hotel options with private villas, plunge pools, and spas. The spas are indulgent, as every spa should be, and have no shortage of Pure Fiji products, a locally made line of bath and body care products only found in Fiji. Near the marina, there are catamarans and yachts to go on day trips and discover the nearby islands on.
2. Try Kava
Kava is a sweet, delicious South Pacific island specialty. Derived from a root, kava is traditionally used for medicinal, religious, and political ceremonies in local villages and tribes. For every village we visit, we present the chief with kava in a sevusevu ceremony which opens a Yaqona Ceremony – a traditional Fijian welcome. Part of this ritual includes the sharing of a ‘grog,’ Fiji’s national drink, which is made with ground sun-dried kava and mixed with cold water into the shell of a coconut or large basin of wood. While the drink is being prepared, we enjoy the local welcome song and spoken word performance. When the drink is presented to you, you clap once before you take the bowl, then you sip and clap twice when you finish. While some of us start to feel sleepy or enjoy the calming effect, others feel a little “drunk” or have their tongues feel a little numb. After the ceremony, we sing and dance more with a lot more audience participation this time. It’s an amazing representation of Fijian culture.
3. Swim with the Fishes!
If you have the opportunity to snorkel or scuba in the South Pacific ocean, you simply must once you’re here. Beauty is all around, above and below sea level. On our harbour cruise, we have a complimentary snorkel session to explore the local reef. The onboard marine biologist explains everything we see from the marine life to the coral. Below we see turtles, rays, hundreds of colourful fish. This has to be my favourite experience.
4. Indulge in History and Culture
On almost every island we visit, we learn about thousands of years old traditions, stories, and ways of life. We trek through an ancient cave that was once used for cannibalistic and religious ceremonies. It took all the courage I could muster, but I dive in to the five chambers of the cave and discover more beauty, a lot of mud, and lots of history. It’s easy to imagine Fiji in the late 1800s.
5. Ditch the Technology
Coming from someone who lives in a big city, being in this part of the world feels very remote, almost a little eerie. Being in Fiji, I can do a full 360-degree turn and see nothing but ocean, or maybe a deserted island or two. But it’s calm and serene. The best part of being this remote in the South Pacific are the stretches of land where cell phone signals are lost creating technology-free zones with no other option than to ditch your phone. At least for a little while. This allows for a true reception of what island life is like. Peace and quiet with just the sounds of the waves hitting the boat and birds soaring above.