Search this site:             

Fiji Travel

Because I used frequent flyer mileage for this Fiji travel, it took me over 33 hours to get to the Nadi (pronounced nahn-dee), Fiji international airport from Tokyo Narita, including my overnight stay at the Auckland, New Zealand airport. Ugh! To travel on the dates that I desired, besides being routed through New Zealand, I also had the pleasure of spending over 5 hours in the amazing Singapore Changi Airport.  

"Pleasure," you may ask?! Well, Terminal 3, which opened in 2008, has the world's 1st butterfly garden inside an airport, a free 24-hour movie theater, a very comfy snooze lounge, an aviation gallery, a 4-story (12m) high slide (the world's tallest inside an airport), and a koi pond. The other terminals have a sunflower garden, an orchid garden, a cactus garden, and believe it or not, they even have a rooftop swimming pool. I was impressed with all the modern amenities in the Changi Airport, including free PC Internet kiosks everywhere, and to my delight, I even found some free foot massagers.

Free foot massager @ Singapore Changi Airport
Free foot massager @ Singapore Changi Airport


Another interesting part of my very LONG journey was the Air New Zealand in-flight safety video they show before takeoff. Everyone in the video, both cabin crew & passengers, is dressed like a character from “The Hobbit” movie. VERY cute. Even Director Peter Jackson was in the safety video, which you can view @ YouTube.  

The magnificent Fiji Islands are so beautiful, they're almost indescribable, but the mere fact that Tom Hanks' "Cast Away" and Brooke Shields' "The Blue Lagoon" were filmed there pretty much speaks for itself.

Day 1 - Thurs. Feb. 14, 2013 - Valentine’s Day


My arrival at the Nadi, Fiji airport was quite a treat, where I was greeted by live Fijian music as I approached immigration (you can see this 3-person band in my video below). After exiting immigration, I was practically attacked by taxi drivers and all of the tour operators trying to sell their various programs.

After inquiring for a Fiji map, I got hustled off to an office by a lady who I originally thought was working for the Fiji tourism bureau, and although she was very helpful, I believe she was more interested in hooking me up with one of the area tour operators. In all the confusion, I somehow missed the nice man from my hotel who had been sent to the airport to pick me up, and who’d even gone to the trouble of printing out my name on a sign to hold up as I exited immigration.

The first thing I noticed when I walked out of the airport building was how nice and warm it was (dare I say HOT?). Well, OK, to be honest, it was indeed very hot and humid, but quite a welcome relief from the unbelievably cold winter we've had in Japan this year.  In fact, when I left Tokyo, it was a frigid 6° C (43° F). Ugh!

By far one of the luckiest things that happened to me during this Fiji travel was my choice of hotels. After I first arrived at the Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji, I spent the first half hour just walking around the property and taking pictures… the place is just THAT pretty.

Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji, Room 405
Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji, Room 405


Besides the complimentary airport pickup, the Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji offers free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a PC Internet kiosk in the lobby, a beautiful swimming pool, fitness center, billiards table, very cordial staff, and is only a 10 min. walk from Wailoaloa Beach.

One of the first things I did after arriving at the Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji was...well, naturally...to head down to Wailoaloa Beach. smiley Interestingly, I didn't see anyone out in the water, even though it was a gorgeous day. I decided to have lunch at the Ghostship Bar & Grill in the Smugglers Cove Beach Resort, which overlooks their pool and is right on Wailoaloa Beach.

swimming pool @ Smugglers Cove Beach Resort
Swimming pool @ Smugglers Cove Beach Resort


Because I arrived on Valentine's Day, that night my hotel's restaurant offered a special Valentine's Day dinner menu.  For starters, I was served tomato soup, smoked fish rolls, and baked freshwater mussels. There was a choice of 4 main courses and I chose the creamy bacon wrapped chicken, served with buttered potatoes and steamed vegetables.

For dessert, I had coconut ice cream & coconut jello, covered with chocolate chips & butterscotch syrup. Oh, and for the first time in my life I got to taste a Fanta Pineapple, which was pretty delish.

Valentine's Day Dinner @ Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji
Valentine's Day Dinner @ Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji


After dinner, I decided to check out the nightlife, so I caught a taxi up to Queens Road where I by chance heard some nice music coming from the Sitar Indian and Thai Restaurant. After I went inside, I was pleasantly surprised to see some Fijian dancers in action, so I sat down, ordered a Coke Zero, and managed to catch 4 of their amazing dances on video, which you can view below.

I heard that Fijian dancers perform there just about every night. I also checked out Ed's Bar, which I was totally unimpressed with, and the Bounty Restaurant & Bar where I heard a very good 3-piece R&B band, even though I was the only spectator. smiley Perhaps I was just there a little bit too early in the evening.





Day 2 - Fri. Feb. 15, 2013


On my 2nd day in Fiji, I had only 2 things on my agenda: the Garden of the Sleeping Giant & Nadi Town.  The Garden of the Sleeping Giant, located just outside of Nadi, opened in 1977 and is famous for the private collection of tropical orchids belonging to the late Canadian actor Raymond Burr, known for his popular TV characters of Perry Mason and Robert Ironside.

Orchid @ Garden of the Sleeping Giant
Orchid @ Garden of the Sleeping Giant


But his orchid collection has grown to be one of the most popular Fiji Island attractions and now includes several rare Fijian orchids as well, making this one of the largest collections of orchids in the world. The garden now has on display over 2000 various types of orchids (one I heard even smells like chocolate) on a plantation which encompasses 20 hectares (~49 acres).

I'm guessing the humidity inside this lush garden was fairly close to 100%, and combined with the heat, it almost felt like a sauna, as the sweat was just rolling down my face. Just when I was beginning to feel a little discomfort, it suddenly dawned on me that it was mid-February and I remembered the record snowfall accumulation this month in northern Japan of 5.6m (>18 ft), and then magically I didn't feel so hot anymore. smiley



My 2nd stop of the day was Nadi Town, where I got to see the municipal open-air food market where you can pick up any imaginable food item…..fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, sugar cane, etc….VERY cheap. I also had my first Fiji grocery shopping experience at the MH Supermarket, where I stocked up on fresh fruits, yogurt, & bottled water for my hotel frig.

In Nadi Town I also checked out the beautiful Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, which is at the south end of the main street. It’s the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere.



Because I wasn't feeling that swift this day, I packed it in in the late afternoon and hit the hay a little early that night. Apparently something I ate at my Valentine's Day dinner wasn't agreeing with my system, because I had diarrhea for the next 2 days.

Fortunately for me, a nice American guy staying at my hotel gave me his unopened bottle of Pepto-Bismol, 2/3 of which I used to help myself get back up to full speed again.

My sleep was disturbed that afternoon by a hellacious thunderstorm, complete with severe thunder and lightning. This was the 1st of 3 storms that I would encounter during my 6-day stay in Fiji, all of them occurring mid to late afternoon (pls. see discussion below on Fiji weather).

Day 3 - Sat. Feb. 16, 2013


Since I'd read on a number of websites that Natadola Beach was one of the best white-sand beaches along the Coral Coast (the south side of Viti Levu, the main Fiji island), I decided to check it out this day. After catching a taxi to the Nadi Town bus terminal, I rode on a highway bus from there to the Natadola Beach cutoff. After I got off the bus, there was a guy waiting there, who offered to take me down to the beach for FJ$10, but being a little hardheaded, I decided I didn't want to pay that & because it was such a nice day, I just decided to walk.

Natadola Beach
Natadola Beach,
in front of Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort


Well, after about 20 min. of walking, a nice Fijian lady with her kids stopped and asked me if I'd like a ride and so I eagerly accepted. It's a good thing I did, because I learned later that that road down to the beach is almost 10 km (~6 mi) long, which would've probably taken me around 2 hours to walk the entire distance.

In addition to its white sand, Natadola Beach is also known for its horses for hire, which you can ride up and down the beach. One of the highlights of Natadola Beach is the gorgeous Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa where I had a light lunch. The mixed green salad and watermelon juice set me back FJ$28 (US$15). But for me it was definitely worth it to experience such a beautiful sight.



Since it was Saturday, I was hoping to catch a little Saturday night fever, so I had dinner at the Capricorn Hotel and listened for a while to their live Fijian band. The band was good, but it was a very casual affair with long breaks between songs, which included drinking kava and shooting the breeze with a handful of customers who had gathered.

Kava is a native drink made from a root with sedative and anesthetic properties which is consumed throughout Polynesia. I’ve heard you don't really get buzzed from drinking kava, but you’ll get a slight numb feeling in your mouth after downing a few cups.

For some reason, I guess due to my 3-day illness, I never got around to checking out the White House Nightclub & Live Karaoke, but I heard it's a pretty happening place with lots of gorgeous gals. smiley

White House Nightclub Fiji
White House Nightclub & Live Karaoke in Nadi, Fiji


When the White House Fiji nightclub opened in July 2012, the South Korean owner was quoted as saying, "The White House in Washington is the top house in the world, so I named this club that in the hope it becomes Fiji’s top club."

After I returned back to my hotel, I discovered there was a live band there as well. They were also pretty good, playing a lot of oldies, and I was especially impressed with their rendition of the Eagles’ "Hotel California."





Day 4 - Sun. Feb. 17, 2013


I'm not sure what came over me exactly, as I don't generally worship while on vacations, but for some reason, on this day I decided I wanted to check out a traditional Fijian church.  This may have had something to do with watching a Fiji DVD I received from the Fiji tourism bureau office in Tokyo before I left on my vacation, which showed a rather lively church service in Fiji.

I wasn't successful in locating on the internet a church near my hotel, so after I inquired at the front desk, lo and behold, one of the ladies who works there said she was leaving for her church in about an hour and asked me if I wanted to join her. Well, I didn't have my best Sunday clothes with me, but I jumped at the opportunity.

The church we attended is known as the 3C Christian City Church Nadi, and it was a very delightful and uplifting service (albeit a bit too long…2 hours).  After the service, they even served refreshments outside under a beautiful, huge tree. You can see a few clips from the C3 church service in my video below.

C3 Christian City Chuch, Nadi
After service refreshments,
C3 Christian City Church, Nadi
(video clips of service in video below)


In the afternoon I decided to check out Port Denarau, as I heard this was the high rent district for the Nadi area, with all the upscale hotels like the Sheraton, Radisson, Hilton, etc., as well as the Denarau Golf Club.

It also serves as a marina and the passenger terminal for the boat cruises out to the outer Fiji islands, including the Mamanuca Islands and the Yasawa Islands. Needless to say, it's a pretty happening place.

Even though I was planning to come back to Port Denarau the next day for my own boat cruise out to South Sea Island, I knew that I wouldn’t have any time then for shopping or just walking around, because I would be arriving and departing at the passenger terminal via the South Sea Cruises transport bus immediately before and after my boat cruise.

Fijian smile @ Port Denarau Marina
Fijian smile @ Port Denarau Marina


The Port Denarau marina was a great place for eating and shopping with a variety of different kinds of shops, including a fried chicken fast food restaurant, a New Zealand ice cream shop, a convenience store, a fishing tackle shop, pharmacy, and even the Hard Rock Café Fiji.

Day 5 - Mon. Feb. 18, 2013


South Sea Island, Fiji
South Sea Island, Fiji


My boat cruise this day out to the South Sea Island was without question the highlight of my entire visit to the Fiji islands.  South Sea Island is the 1st stop along the long chain of Mamanuca Islands from Port Denarau.

The half-day cruise that I chose through tour company South Sea Cruises cost only FJ$135 (~US$75), and included the 1-hr round-trip high-speed catamaran cruise, a very touching musical show by Fijian performers, a gorgeous BBQ & salad lunch buffet, snorkeling, swimming pool, sailing, kayaking, a ride in the Coral Explorer semi-submersible vessel, and all the other island amenities.

South Sea Cruises high-speed catamaran
South Sea Cruises high-speed catamaran


I was not that impressed with the Coral Explorer sub, as the water didn't seem to be all that clear in that vicinity, so we couldn't really see that many fish thru the windows. On the other hand, where they took us for snorkeling, the water was crystal clear and because the South Sea Island is surrounded by a marine sanctuary, I found Nemo & saw some fish that I'd never seen before, including a couple of friendly (and thankfully small) white-tipped sharks that kept us company. smiley

Without question, it was the most awesome coral reef snorkeling experience in my entire 6-decade lifetime.

Oriental Sweetlips
Oriental Sweetlips
(photo courtesy: Wikipedia)


Back at the hotel, for dinner I decided to have the dish with the amazing garlic aroma that I'd already been smelling for 4 days…the masala fish curry, which was totally DELISH!!

Day 6 - Tues. Feb. 19, 2013


My return flight back to Auckland, New Zealand and then back to Tokyo Narita didn't leave until the evening, so I decided to spend most of the last day of my Fiji travel just killing time doing stuff close to the hotel. I went shopping at the RB Patel Jetpoint supermarket and department store, where everything is SO cheap. I even found men’s dress shoes starting @ only FJ$43 (~US$24). Wow.

While walking down to have my triple cheeseburger @ McDonald's, I bought a chilled coconut from a nice lady right alongside the road who chopped a hole in the top of it and put a straw in it so I could drink the fresh juice. It was SO nice!

Swimming pool @ Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji
Swimming pool @ Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji


Back at the hotel, I lounged around & swam in the pool for a while and because this was my 1st ever visit to the southern hemisphere, my new American friend, a fellow hotel guest, and I performed some scientific experiments to determine whether water really drains in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere.

As you can see in my video below, our results were inconclusive, and it wasn't until I returned back to Japan to discover that the idea of it draining in another direction is just an urban legend. As it turns out, the Coriolis force has no effect on draining water (http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.asp). But it was a lot of fun conducting the experiments nonetheless. smiley

Friendly staff @ Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji
Friendly staff @ Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji


On both the inbound and outbound legs of my Fiji travel, I stayed at the Ibis Budget Hotel at the Auckland, New Zealand airport. It was very nice, reasonably priced, and of course, very convenient as it is only about a 10 min. walk from the international terminal, although you can catch the free park-and-ride bus, which stops at the hotel.

My Fiji Travel Photos


The pics in the collage below are a sampling of my Fiji travel photo album hosted at Flickr. Clicking on the collage will open up the album on a separate page, or you can view the entire set sequentially in the slideshow player below. I hope you enjoy them !

Fiji photo collage



The image above is the gorgeous white sand Natadola Beach
in front of the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa.
Click above to view the Fiji travel slideshow of my 156 Flickr pics,
or view all of them at a glance here.

My Fiji Travel Video


Besides the amazing fish (and sharks) I saw snorkeling (too bad I don't have an underwater camera), the prettiest place I saw in Fiji was Natadola Beach, especially in front of the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. But by far the most touching experience was the South Sea Island performers (whom you can see in the image & video below). The C3 Church was pretty cool too. Enjoy!

 
(View video in separate window here)

Fiji travel video cue marks (in min.):
     0:00  Singapore Air in-flight airshow - Singapore to Auckland, NZ flight
     2:10  Air New Zealand in-flight airshow - Auckland, NZ to Nadi, Fiji flight
     7:07  Musical Fijian welcome @ the Nadi, Fiji airport
     7:26  Fiji flag
     7:49  Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji
     8:18  Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant - Dance 1
   10:06  Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant - Dance 2
   12:42  Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant - Dance 3
   17:00  Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant - Dance 4
   20:16  Kava ceremony & Fiji cultural presentation
   27:14  Riding on a highway bus to Natadola Beach
   27:49  Natadola Beach
   28:11  Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Natadola Beach
   29:12  Riding on the highway from Natadola Beach back to Nadi Town
   29:34  C3 Christian City Church Nadi
   31:40  The Denarau Golf Club
   32:47  Port Denarau Marina
   34:09  Port Denarau passenger terminal
   34:24  Boat cruise to South Sea Island
   37:29  Welcome greetings @ South Sea Island
   40:00  South Sea Island lunch buffet
   40:23  South Sea Island Fijian song & dance performers
   52:20  South Sea Island Coral Explorer semi-submersible vessel
   55:07  South Sea Island snorkeling boat
   55:18  Return boat cruise from South Sea Island back to Port Denarau
   59:22  Fresh chilled coconut juice
1:00:10  Does water drain clockwise or counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere? THAT is the question. smiley
1:01:04  Japanese high school boys in the Auckland airport wait for our flight to return back home to Ibaraki Prefecture from their 10-day excursion to New Zealand
1:01:20  Beautiful cumulus cloud we passed en route back to Japan

Notes: (1) "Bula" in the Fijian language means "hello" or "welcome."
(2) Kava is a native drink made from a root with sedative and anesthetic properties which is consumed throughout Polynesia.

Fiji Google Map


If you've ever wondered exactly where in the South Pacific Ocean that Fiji is located, it lies around 5,100 km (~3,200 mi) southwest of Hawaii and 3,150 km (~2000 mi) northeast of Sydney. Fiji's main island of Viti Levu is located @ approximately 18 degrees south latitude and 178 degrees east longitude, lying just west of the international date line.

To get a better feel for Fiji's location, you can zoom out in the Fiji Google map below, or click open a larger Google map on a separate page. Also, if you have Google Earth installed on your PC, using GE's tilt & rotate features, you can check out the 3D view & actually fly around Fiji as if you were in an airplane:

 

Fiji Taxis


I found taxis in Fiji to be numerous, cheap, and yet borderline irritating. Before leaving Japan, I shopped online for a Fiji rental car, but the cheapest I could find, as I recall, was around US$60 a day, even for a compact. After I got on the ground in Fiji, I immediately realized why.

In Fiji there are taxis EVERYWHERE. You never, ever have to worry about not being able to get a taxi. But what I found irritating about them is that every single taxi ride anywhere required a price negotiation. This got old in a hurry. And sometimes just walking down the street, taxis would stop (or honk) to see if you needed a ride.

While many, if not most, of the taxis have meters, they are not as clearly visible as in Japan or in the states, so there was always that sense that you might be overcharged or that the taxi driver was trying to extract as much tourist cash from you as possible.
 
On my 4th day in Fiji, I received a lengthy and somewhat condescending explanation from one taxi driver that there are two different kinds of taxis in Fiji… LT (for “local taxis”), and LH (for “local hire” taxis).…and these identifying letters are even indicated on their license plates.

This taxi driver explained that LH taxis are more expensive because they are company-owned and are all covered by insurance, whereas the LT taxis may not have insurance. He also said there are many unofficial taxis without any kind of government license, but are just individuals trying to cut into the taxi business.

I then asked this LH taxi driver why his taxi didn't have any identifying information on the outside of his taxi, e.g., company logo or the little illuminated taxi sign on the top of his car, and how I could tell that his taxi was in fact an LH taxi as opposed to an unlicensed taxi, but he didn't have a very good answer. Oh well, live and learn. smiley

I even searched pretty thoroughly for a place to rent a motorcycle (even inquiring @ the Nadi airport), but the only place I found was at the Smugglers Cove Beach Resort and they were asking FJ$70 for all day, plus another FJ$20 for insurance, and a FJ$200 deposit. Uh, no thanks! In Phuket, Thailand I rented a scooter for 24 hours for only 200 baht (~US$6.50).

Fiji Weather & Nearby Seismic Activity


Although Fiji's average temperatures vary by less than 4 degrees C throughout the year, Fiji's warm season, November to April, is also the wet season & cyclone season. In Nadi, February (when I visited) is statistically the 2nd warmest month (January wins top prize) and the 2nd wettest month (March is the victor).

Cyclone frequency is generally greatest during January & February, but category 4 Cyclone Evan caused catastrophic damage to Fiji as it passed thru just a week before Xmas 2012. Before striking Fiji, Cyclone Evan had already hit Samoa a few days prior, causing widespread devastation and killing 5 people. Evan battered Fiji with wind gusts of up to 270 km/hr, destroying hundreds of homes, farms, & schools, ruining crops, tearing down vital infrastructure such as power poles, submerging bridges, & damaging roads due to landslides.

Some parts of Fiji recorded 200 mm (about 8 inches) of rain over a 24-hour period, causing substantial flooding and widespread power and water outages. More than 8000 people had to take refuge in emergency evacuation shelters, airlines suspended flights in and out of the country, and tourists unable to leave Fiji in time were forced to stay put in their sand-bagged & boarded-up hotels.

The excellent Fiji Meteorological Service website provides up-to-date Fiji weather conditions, forecasts, and current tropical cyclone warnings & advisories. NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center provides the latest tsunami warnings & advisories in the region, and a site I was keeping a close eye on prior to leaving Japan is the amazing, interactive USGS real-time earthquake map (auto-updated every minute).

Less than a week before my departure, between Feb. 6-10 in the nearby Santa Cruz Islands (part of the Solomon Islands) there were 14 quakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater, including the Feb. 6 M8.0 quake which caused a 1.5m (~5 ft) tsunami there which killed 9 people and other smaller tsunamis as far away as Japan.

Fiji 3-prong, 240V wall outlet


Oh, by the way, if you're from Japan or America or any of the other countries that use standard Type A, 2-pronged plugs for your electrical appliances, if you want to recharge your camera, cell phone, PC, etc. in Fiji, you may want to bring along an electrical plug adapter to work with the same Type I, 240V, 3-prong wall outlets they use in Australia & New Zealand.

Fiji 3-prong, 240v wall outlet
Fiji 3-prong, 240v wall outlet
(photo courtesy: Wikipedia)


The adapter plug below I picked up for around 5 bucks @ Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo's Akihabara Electric Town, where it is sold as a Type O2 plug.

Type O2 adapter plug
Type O2 adapter plug
(photo credit: rakuten.com)

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?



What a great, exotic place Fiji is! And I'm convinced you won't find any friendlier people anywhere in the world.

Six days in Fiji was not nearly enough time, and I can hardly wait to go back.

I hope you found this page both informative & entertaining, and that it will benefit future visitors to this Pacific island paradise. It is also my hope you will find time to check back again soon to this Fiji travel page as I update it in the future with more details on some of the other local sights.

Should you have any questions or comments, or perhaps have already visited Fiji, feel free to share your experience in the comment section below. Thanks so much for visiting and please come back again soon...

Cheers,
Gary



New! Add your comment

Have your say about this page! Feel free to comment in the box below:


Back to Pacific Islands Travel



Fiji Weather & Sky
Find more about Weather in Nadi, FJ Find more about Weather in Nadi, FJ





Let's connect!!

Gary J. Wolff


View Gary J. Wolff's profile on LinkedIn

My pics:

My videos: YouTube logo