“BULA”!! is the word that greets you everywhere in Fiji!
Literally, meaning ‘Welcome’, it is the local’s way of meeting and greeting anyone. Fijians sing this out everywhere they go, and by the second hour you will be smiling and saying it right back. They are some of the friendliest and warmest people we’ve met, waving us and welcoming us “home” to their island.
We traveled to the islands of Fiji on Australia Day 2017 for 6 days for our 1st wedding anniversary! Sun, sand, beaches, hammocks, cocktails…. It truly was as relaxing as it sounds! :)
We stayed at Club Fiji Resort close to Denarau. We chose a beachside 'bure' or hut overlooking a secluded beach.
The resort isn't as fancy as the ones you see in Denarau, but we were out and about almost all day so we didn't really mind the stripped down amenities. The accommodation was a value-for-money resort with a small secluded beach, a restaurant, a bar & a tour desk. The resort also provided free kayaks and snorkeling gear if you wished to explore the surrounding beach on your own. The grounds were dotted with lazy hammocks swinging from almost every palm tree and the resort had themed nights varying every night if you wished to have a lazy time in the resort like a Moroccan bbq feast on Thursdays or Island fire dancers on Saturdays.
NB: Wi-Fi is an additional $30 FZD for 7 days and is only active in the reception and restaurant areas. Most of the time, they had issues with their Wi-Fi so we hardly ever used it. It was nice to disconnect and forced us to relax :) (The resort also refunded part of our Wi-Fi charge due to their lack of service - appreciated the gesture)
We would highly recommend planning all your activities in Fiji as there’s nothing else much to do. It is not a country where you can just walk around town and find stuff to do and explore. Of course, if you want to do nothing at all, Fiji is also the perfect place – you can swing in a hammock all day, read a book, get massages and sip Pina Coladas all day. But if you are anything like Shankar and I, after about Day 2 of doing nothing and relaxing, we were itching to get our butts off and explore what else Fiji has to offer.
Sabeto Mud Bath & Hot Springs
We hired a car from our resort ($120 FZD for the whole day) to visit the Sabeto Mud Bath & Hot Springs. The mud baths are near the Sleeping Giant Gardens if you want to see the Orchid flower gardens on your way. We chose to go straight to the Mud Baths instead. Entry fee of $20 FZD pp lets you inside this enormous space with scattered pools, small huts with local arts and crafts stalls, and a quiet massage ‘bure’.
You start by applying volcanic mud all over your body, just lathering it up into every crevice! You then wait around in the sun for it to dry up. The mud allegedly has moisturizing properties leaving your skin silky smooth after! (I didn’t really feel any different, but it was a good experience none the less :) )
There are 3 hot springs around the property of varying temperatures that you can wash the mud off of yourself. We also opted for a half hour massage after ($40 FZD pp). After the warm mud & lazing around in a hot pool for an hour, the massage was really relaxing!
South Sea Island Day tour
The day tour to South Sea Island was an absolute blast!
We boarded our catamaran from Port Denarau and sailed to South Sea Island about half hour away from the main land Viti Levu.
The secluded island had a radius of about 5 mins (walking) and we had the whole island to us for the entire day! (with the rest of our tour group of course)
After a quick welcome, we made ourselves comfortable on some bean bags and changed into our swimmers and headed straight into the water for Scuba diving! Our instructor was lovely as he guided terrified little Shankar into the water. We each had an instructor, holding our hands as we got comfortable with breathing underwater. I had done Scuba diving once in Bali so I knew what to expect however I must say for first-time Scuba divers – highly recommend doing it here! Unlike jumping off the boat in the middle of the ocean, we walked from the shore into the water eventually diving deeper as we got comfortable with the breathing. We saw octopus, starfish and various beautiful colorful fish around the island. It is an absolute treat to the eye and a whole new world we could explore and experience! :)
The rest of the day, we had lunch (included) as we enjoyed some island dancers and singers, tried our hand or shall I say legs at stand up paddle boarding and swam in the deep blue ocean! We lazed around on hammocks until it was time for us to head back onto the main land with a bus transfer back to our resort.
Robinson Cruiso Island tour
On our wedding anniversary, we kicked the romance up a notch and went for a romantic sunset dinner cruise on Robinson Island (a small tiny island off the south west coast from Nadi).
Approx 45 mins away from Nadi, we boarded a small boat that glided through the jungles of Robinson river. With thick forests on either end, the river finally led onto the ocean where we could see Robinson island in the far distance. As we approached the island, we could hear and see the local islanders on the shore welcoming us with singing and a loud warm BULA!
Once on the island, we got to take part in the traditional Kava ceremony.
Kava is a Fijian local drink made from the bark of a pepper tree. The chief of the village arrived with much fanfare and proceeded to take his Kava from a small coconut bowl. The tradition is to clap before you are offered the drink, and say ‘Bula’ before you drink the whole thing as a shot. You are to then give the bowl back to the chief and clap three times saying “Vinaka” or thank you
We also got to witness hot coal dancing and ‘Lovo’ – Fiji's traditional form of cooking. Lovo is a feast cooked in the earth! A shallow pit is dug and the food is placed atop hot coals and stones and covered with layers of earth. Cooked for anywhere between 6 – 10 hours, the food is succulent, with smokey earthy, bbq flavours running through it.
The night ended with amazing entertainment from the locals with fire dancing and singing as they explained the entire history of Fiji. A beautiful way to showcase the culture! A few locals learnt it was our anniversary and called us up on stage and performed a special anniversary dance for us! A truly touching gesture.
Fiji is known for its beautiful beaches and indigenous culture rather than the food, however food in Fiji is an absolute treat!
Traditional Fijian food is an amalgamation of Pacific and Indian cuisines with local sweet potato and dhal soup served with each dish.
We tried the recommended fish and duck curry at Nandina Restaurant at Denarau. Beautifully cooked with just the right amount of spices! The caramelized banana with rum and vanilla ice cream dessert was the perfect finish to a hearty meal!
As you’d expect, being an island, seafood is available in abundance and we tried delicious fresh sea food platter at Amalfi Restaurant (also in Denarau). As amazing as the platter was, the spotlight was stolen by an enormous 800 gm fresh lobster we ordered. Lightly grilled with butter and garlic it was definitely worth the price! Yum yum!
On our anniversary, we took some time off from our activities to sit and reflect on the year that has been! It flew by so quickly and we absolutely loved reminiscing our wedding week remembering little anecdotes and funny incidents :) Following the tradition, we gave each other ‘something paper’ for our 1st wedding anniversary! It was an afternoon well spent together :) In fact, when we left our beach side chairs, we bumped into a couple from Australia. We got chatting and they thought looking at us having a moment that Shankar had proposed just then! :) Good to know we still have the romance ;) hehe
Tips & Tricks
If you are used to Buzz feed articles, scrolling past the articles to read the ‘3 reasons’ or ‘Top 3’ type of lists.. this one’s for you :) :
… and that’s it! Hope you enjoyed that. We are only getting started, so any suggestions or comments you have – send them our way, would love to see what you guys think! :)