We left the Boulder bubble on Friday evening and landed in Fiji at 5:30am on Sunday, ahead of schedule! We stepped off the plane into thick, moist air and were immediately greeted by a traditional Fijian band. We loved that they were up so early in the morning and played with such enthusiasm. We made our way to the Awesome Adventures office in the airport after successfully getting through customs and baggage claim. We had to claim our tent, which we had on us for New Zealand, but were just waved on through – our first taste of easy going Fiji. We noticed some cultural differences, such as men wearing skirts (Sulus) and holding hands with other male friends. At the Awesome Adventures office, we met a nice “lady” named Bryan. This transgender Fijian became our first friend and tour guide as we continued our journey to Denarau Marina via a really nice coach bus.
She pointed out sights on the main island of Viti Levu such as the mountains known as the sleeping giant, due to their incredible resemblance to a large man laying on his back. We stopped on our way to the marina to get supplies to make pain killers (rum, OJ, pineapple juice and coconut milk/cream). To our surprise, a tiny little convenience store had everything we needed! We purchased Fijian rum called Bounty. We later found out the rum is probably so bountiful because it is, well, pretty horrible.
We got to the marina and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and a chicken caesar wrap. The lady who made the sandwiches probably thought we were crazy because we were ordering lunch at 8:15am. It was 12:15pm Colorado time (the day before) and we had been traveling for nearly 25 hours already, so we were okay with it!
We boarded the Ocean Dreamer ship (aka “The Big White Boat”) shortly after inhaling our “brunch” to head out to a band of volcanic islands, called the Yasawas. Final stop: Bay of Plenty Lodge on Matacawalevu Island. We stopped at each main island along the way to pick up and drop off other vacationers – mostly Aussies enjoying their summer holiday.
We were incredibly impressed by the stunning scenery Fiji has to offer.
The colors were overwhelmingly vibrant!
Gorgeous shades of blue and green popped out amongst the diverse landscape filled with jungle, rocks, and white sandy beaches. Even color blind John thought so!
We both had low expectations of Fiji for some reason. I think it is because everything we read about Fiji stressed that January is the rainy season. This day; however, was stellar!
Just over five hours and probably a whole 32GB SD card full of pictures later, the Bay of Plenty was announced over the ship speakers. We hopped on a small transfer boat with two nice Fijians named S and Joe. They took us to another small boat where we again transferred ourselves and our bags.
We sat patiently on the little boat for about 5 minutes while the Bay of Plenty owner, Jerry, tried to start the boat engine. No such luck, so he said, “Anna, you get on the boat” and pointed to the little boat we just came from.
We laughed and re-transferred our bags back to Joe and S and hopped on for another scenic ride to our final destination. We stepped off the boat into extremely hot, shallow, sea water. I’m talking like 90 degrees F!
We were greeted by Jerry’s wife, Rosa as well as Nana, Tina, Rosie, and two cute little dogs named Tim Tam and Dora (as in Dora the Explorer). Rosa’s grandson was also fast asleep sprawled out on a wooden table, which gave us a good laugh. We sat down and talked to Rosa for a bit while taking in the view.
Rosie made us a spectacular lunch of eggs with an amazing sauce, cooked cabbage and other veggies including cassava (a Fijian potato). Oh yea, I can’t forget that we were also treated to unlimited juice, aka orange Tang. I didn’t even know they made that stuff anymore.
With extremely satisfied bellies and tired bodies, we made our way up a short hiking path to a hill where our bure (Fijian hut/bungalow) lied.
Nothing fancy – a double bed, sink, toilet, and cold shower – but all we needed. We took cold showers to wash the sweat and sunscreen off of us that accumulated over the past 30 hours of travel.
We set up our bug net, passed out for a quick nap, and awoke to wander around and enjoy the out of this world view from the bure. The afternoon continued with the making of a pain killer beverage and a ukelele lesson for me.
We strolled around the grounds admiring the abundant wildlife – lizards, frogs, fish, crabs, and any insect you can imagine. The day ended with another delicious meal of chicken, rice, cassava, and veggies. We were the only guests at the Bay of Plenty for the first 3 days, so we became exceptionally spoiled and always left the kitchen table very full and happy! All the food we received for the week was made from ingredients from the farm on the island. We left one city with farm to table mentality and entered another halfway around the globe. We were impressed when we learned that the electricity (which was very minimal) for all four bures and the kitchen was run off of solar panels.
We also learned our first travel lesson on the road: don’t put anything in the small hip pockets of our backpacks while in transit. We had a headlamp and small flashlight stolen before we even got to the Bay of Plenty. Bummer it had to happen on day 1, but lesson learned and glad it was just those two things and nothing we couldn’t live without, like our passports!