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krisek Nadi - A travel report by Krys
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Nadi,  Fiji - flag Fiji
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krisek's travel reports

Fiji\'s main island. Friendliest of them all?

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Two sides. Western, fronted by Nadi and the Denarau island. And the eastern, boasting Fiji\'s capital - Suva. Two dramatically different sides of the same island. Chilled out and rushed.


Fijian kava ceremony
Fijian kava ceremony
Incidentally, there are just ten countries whose name has only four letters. And only three of them have capitals cities with the same number of letters. This includes Fiji. The other two are Peru and Togo.

Fiji made it to the South Pacific Extravaganza trip by chance. Well, not entirely by chance. It were the flight schedules that did it. Fiji appeared on the right path on the right day of the week. And there were a couple of accommodation options that I could use without significantly increasing the cost of the trip.

So, I squeezed Fiji between Vanuatu (Efate) and Tonga (Tongatapu). I stayed two nights. Both on the western side of Viti Levu island near Nadi. I would have stayed in Suva, the nation's capital as well, on the eastern side of the main island, yet I could not find the right accommodation option. I managed to explore a few square miles of both the eastern and western sides by road and had a good look of the island from air, when I took a short 20 minutes flight from Nadi to Suva on a Monday morning.

The eastern side was wet and busy, mainly focused on making the living through trade and farming. The western side was dry and sunny with pretty beaches, where life was focused on tourism. It was obvious in the size of the airports. Nadi International airport was a full size airport with plenty of facilities and duty free shopping and served jumbo jets flying from Australia, New Zealand and the US. While the Suva International Airport was a very basic one with almost no facilities and serving smaller aircraft that went just a couple of hours to the nearby Melanasian nations, with an exception to a flight all the way to Auckland, New Zealand.

I have been thinking that I only scratched the surface of Fiji and that there were so many Fijian islands that could be explored. The friendly approach of the Fijians and the relaxed atmosphere of the country convinced me that Fiji should be the country to go back to.

Favourite spots:
Vuda village
Vuda village
Vuda (Vunda) village in the western part of Viti Levu was perhaps my favourite spot. It was apparently the first village established by the Fijians after their landing on the island. I went there on Sunday. Unannounced. Normally, the chief of the village welcomes visitors on any other day but not on Sundays. I was lucky however that the guy, who gave me a lift there had a cousin, who lived in the village. This way, I got a tour. A 30 year-old rather flamboyant, softspoken and softgestured guy took me around. It was a large village and its central, focal point, was the very nice chief's house. It was located on a large square amongst the greenest of the lawns. What a perfect picture!

Vuda village liked putting up monument to honor ancestors. They were simple monuments with short obelisks surrounded by seven inch-tall walls, normally painted white. The village had a nice, and rather large church, a few houses still standing in Fijian style and a small jetty running into the ocean.

What's really great:
Fijian warrior
Fijian warrior
The genuine and pure friendliness of the Fijians impressed me the most. Without any agenda whatsoever, the locals would go an extra mile to assist you and make you feel welcome on their island. This really came so unexpected to me. I heard a few things about the Fijians, but there was nothing specific about their attitude to the visitors and how they treated one another. It was overwhelming. I was in Fiji only for a couple of hours or so. One of the local guys asked me where I came from, and when he heard "England" in response, he immediately invited me to watch the upcoming rugby match between Fiji and England with him and his friends. I would normally accept the offer, but the game was happening at 3 o'clock in the morning, and I really did not feel like staying up so late that night. On the hindsight, I probably should have gone to bed for a few hours and then join the guys as they asked. Incidentally, England won this match.

Sights:
Fijian parliament
Fijian parliament
In Nadi, there were no sights. But Suva, the nation's capital, had a good number of them. There were the grounds of the Fijian parliament, which were accessible to visitors, and the main building was kept in the traditional Fijian architectural style. It looked like a giant chief's house. There were a few good looking governmental buildings, churches and colonial department stores and villas.

Accommodations:
The Westin Denarau main entrance
The Westin Denarau main entrance
I stayed at the Westin on the Denarau island. It was a former Regent of Fiji, country's best hotel. It is kept in the character of Fiji, styled in the traditional architecture. Unlike all other resorts on the island, which were cosmopolitan and characterless. The Westin upgraded me to an executive suite, which meant that I had two bathrooms, sitting room, a terrace, fully equipped kitchen and a sizeable bedroom. All with lovely solid wood furniture. I got loads of free bottled water and a complimentary red wine (they knew I liked shiraz) and a couple of Fijian gifts, including handmade pineapple soap. The grounds were extensive, there was a beach, waters ports centre, activities centre, a number of pools, two restaurants, and a bar. The breakfast buffet was massive and included free sparkling wine!

In the evening, the hotel organised two events. One was he fire walking (mainly Saturdays) and daily fire show, which commenced at sunset.

Nightlife:
Fire dancing show at the beach
Fire dancing show at the beach
The Smugglers' Cove was the spot for nightlife. Well, actually there were two, but the one I wanted to visit was, for some reason, closed. It was a local drinking hole in Nadi, right by the river. The cove was where the backpackers stayed and partied. When I wandered off the resort on Denerau Island and asked locals about places to go out that did not include bars at the posh hotels, everyone responded "Smugglers' Cove". It was the place in Nadi's vicinity, which had a reputation of relaxed approach to life, the universe and everything, which the backpackers and travellers on shoestring typically demonstrate. It was the spot to share travelling experience and ideas over a few drinks. This meant that the bars were lively and compatible with the purpose why people went there. Surely, this could also mean that Smuggler's Cove might not necessarily cater for the local folk, but it is the place to go out.

Hangouts:
Travellers' Beach
Travellers' Beach
If one wanted to hangout outside the resorts and outside of the Denarau Island, then the Travellers' Beach was the perfect spot. It had a nice beach, just like the resorts, but it also had beach bars that offered sunset views and cold drinks. Plus some also did night shows with dancing and fire. The beach appeared wilder than those, combed and meticulously maintained stretches of sand at the resorts. It felt more natural. And how great is to see a sea plane stopping by right by the beach and to see people disembarking from it in a most casual manner?

Restaurants:
Fijian beach
Fijian beach
I had a lobster dinner at the Ghost Ship Restaurant & Bar at the Smugglers' Cove. If I remember well, the lobster menu set me back by just FJD30 (£10, $17) or so. It was great, large and cooked well. And, rare! Menus at the resort restaurants had no lobsters on their lists. Ghost Ship was also a cheap hotel, but it had a pool, pool bar with the view of the ocean and the beach, and a good number of tables, practically on the beach. Plus a bunch of young travellers staying there. Open air dining with the sound of the ocean at sunset? Plus a good size, local lobster? How can you go wrong with that? The personnel was very friendly and accommodating. When I passed by the place in the late afternoon for a drink, I checked the menu and asked if I could come back later. The waitress booked a table for me! Although normally, the place does not make booking. The drinks were cold and they had several varieties of beer from draft. Excellent spot.

Other recommendations:
Fijian woman
Fijian woman
Taxi from Nadi airport to the Denarau island was FJD30 (€13), and about half that to the Travellers beach, where the backpackers stayed. A taxi to the capital city of Suva would take 3 hours of driving (bus took 5 hours) and would make a dent of FJD180 in the wallet. Several daily flights operated by Pacific Sun airline, a subsidiary of Fiji's main airline, Air Pacific (to be rebranded Fiji Airways in 2013), connected Nadi with Suva for FJD90 one way. The scenic flight taking just 20 minutes.

Suva airport is about 15km east of the capital. Taxi to the city would cost FJD40 taking from 45 minutes to 1 hour of driving, depending on traffic. Rush hour in Suva ended at about 8am.

Published on Monday November 26th, 2012


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Wed, Feb 04 2015 - 09:06 PM rating by mistybleu

great report and amazing pictures. It really is like a dream spot to vacation.

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