Sunday, 20 October 2013

Fiji Islands where happiness find you!

Fiji Islands where happiness find you!

The Fiji Islands is populated by the happiest people on the planet. This fact was discovered by WIN-Gallup International Company in the course of a social research. "They say God gave them his smile, and some smile that is as the Fijian people welcome tourists and holiday makers to their country of 300 plus islands like long lost friends" - Steven Sanders. Words can not fully describe the beauty of the Fiji Islands and its people but here are a few videos that may help paint a picture.

Tourism Fiji has just launched a new video as part of the bureau's new strategic direction to showcase the unique diversity of the Fiji Islands.

Fiji - Where Happiness Finds You

Fiji Kava ceremony

When visiting the Fiji Islands you will find yourself taking part in many a Kava ceremony.  It is an important Fijian culture and tradition where kava (also called "grog" or "yaqona") is drunk around a bowl. Kava comes from the root of the yaqona (piper methysticum) bush, a relative of the pepper plant. The ceremonies serves as a forum to bring people together to share stories and jokes.

Legend of Dakuwaqa - The Angry Shark God

Dakuwaqa was considered the most ferocious of all the gods that guarded the ocean and reefs of Fiji.  It is told that he frequently changed into a ferocious shark and travelled around, and battling other gods.

The Myth of Tarukagi

A story about the curious fish and the Fijian man.

Gastronomic delights of the Fiji Islands

Please feel free to leave your comments and experiences below.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Top 4 Fiji Islands Budget & Backpacker Getaways

Five star island resorts, private beaches, cocktails, and fancy meals are what many people envision when they think of the Fiji Islands.  It is hard to believe that the Fiji Islands can be affordable when you look at all the stunning photographs. The truth is though that Fiji can be affordable and you can find hotels and hostels that will suit a backpackers getaway.

Fijian tourism recognises backpackers and budget travellers and their need for affordable options. There are several activities and accommodation choices available, widespread throughout the islands. My tip would be to book in advance a travel package that is suitable for you with your flight to get the best value for your money. Fiji Airways does have specials throughout the year so keep an eye out on their website.

The following four are great options to kick start your search:

Bamboo Beach Hostel, Wailoaloa Bay, Nadi

Bamboo Beach Hostel, Wailoaloa Bay, Nadi, Fiji

If you're looking for accommodation away from the usual urban scene in Nadi itself, Bamboo Beach Hostel presents a great value option. A 10 minute drive from either Nadi town or the airport itself, it features free 24 hour airport pick-up, free Wi-Fi, Breakfast included and enough free kava parties to make your tongue go numb leaving you speechless...quite literally!

With great friendly staff to look after you, Bamboo Beach strives to offer a genuine Fijian experience and incorporate:
  • Weekly fire dancing shows, 
  • Live Fijian acoustic music every night,
  • Affordable Fijian cuisine and; 
  • Choice of traditional accommodation in Bures (traditional, thatched Fijian huts). 
Facilities & Services offered and not limited to are:
  • Laundry
  • Swimming Pool
  • Safe Deposit Boxes
  • Airport Transfers
  • A great bar (your holiday just isn't complete without one!)
CafĂ© Bamboo features daily specials and good local cuisine to take care of your meal requirements and as mentioned, the "kava hut" is a must visit for any first time traveller to try the national drink.

There are also local bus services that stop outside the hostel throughout the day if you wish to use them. An Adventure Travel desk on site is also a handy option to book your trips to the many available tourist attractions in Nadi

Note: There are no current curfews or lockout restrictions imposed however please ensure that you visit Bamboo Beach Hostel's website and contact the hostel to confirm details, pricing and availability prior to booking.

Raintree Lodge, Colo-i-Suva

Raintree Lodge, Fiji
The Raintree Lodge is the first fully designed Eco tourism lodge in the Fiji Islands. Located on Princes Road, Colo-i-Suva (pronounced Tholo-ee-Suva), the lodge remains of the best backpacker accommodations in the Capital City (Laucala Beach Estate), set in a gorgeous rain forest environment offering you an altogether unique experience. It has also in the past taken out Fiji's Environmental Tourism Award in 2005 and Best Budget Hotel in 2001.

Backpackers are offered quality bunk dorms starting from FJD$25 per night per person, equipped with toilets and hot water showers. Also on offer is accommodation ranging from  private double and twin bedrooms to family bures which are approximately FJD$220 per night and can accommodate up to 7 guests.

The lodge offers great hotel standard facilities such as:
  • Laundry
  • Hot Water Service
  • Room Service
  • Gym
  • Swimming pool (there is also the option to take a dip in their large lake with the swimming pool or take out their hand carved twin hulled canoe, free of charge, if you don't want to get your feet wet!)
  • Bar and pool table
The Raintree Restaurant and Bar has a traditionally inspired theme with very good chefs offering a wide variety of local and international cuisine. The bar is also well stocked with a good range of wines, spirits and beers to help you unwind after a long day of exploring.

Being an Eco friendly resort, which is its primary attraction  Raintree Lodge is especially well situated for and offers activities such as Bush walking and excursions into Colo-i-Suva National Park and internationally-acclaimed bird watching.

If you feel like venturing out, Suva being the capital city offers a large variety of interesting places to visit and activities ranging from visiting the Fiji Museum (featuring historic national artefacts), famous shopping precincts such as Cumming Street and a vibrant night life including many clubs and a variety of local restaurants. It's always comforting to know that the lodge isn't far off to come back to after a hard day (or night) out.

Be sure to visit Raintree Lodge's website for more information and specials.

Smugglers Cove, Nadi

Smugglers Cove, Fiji
Located approximately 15 minutes from Nadi International Airport, Smugglers Cove offer a variety of accommodation types and most notably their value for money budget accommodation ranging from FJD$32 to FJD$42 per night (prices subject to change).

Smugglers Cove offers great value for group bookings. Some great inclusions offered as part of the accommodation are and not limited to:
  • Daily continental breakfast
  • Use of resort kayaks
  • 24 hour Airport transfers
  • Scuba Diving Pool lessons
There are also a variety of beach activities during the day and enough nightly entertainment to keep you and your crew partying through the night!

Smugglers Cove also offers great facilities which make it a better backpacking option for many travellers. These include and are not limited to:
  • A massage parlour to unwind after a hard night out
  • Great food and drinks at the Ghost Ship  Bar and Grill Restaurant 
  • Retail & souvenir shops to take care of your shopping needs
  • A taxi service located nearby
  • On site ATM
  • Wi-Fi Access (Note: Charges do apply, but then again when you're in Fiji you're there to be offline!)
For more information and upcoming specials and events, be sure to visit Smugglers Cove's website.

Mana Lagoon Backpackers, Mana Island

Mana Lagoon Backpackers, Mana Island, Fiji
If a Simple Relaxing Getaway to unwind from the routine of everyday is what you're after, it's hard to look further than Mana Lagoon Backpackers. About a 40 minute boat transfer from Nadi, the resort is perfectly set out on the beach front on Mana Island.

Renowned for being one of the most friendliest in Fiji, which takes some doing in Fiji itself!, the resort offers accommodation from dorms to double rooms at great rates when compared with many other hostels. Prices range from FJD$40 to FJD$99 per night and include 3 meals and airport transfers. The resort also accepts all major credit cards

You can also hire tent pitchers for FJD$28 if minimalistic is what you are after! Note that prices are subject to change and more information can be found at Mana Lagoon Backpacker's website.

If you have read my earlier posts, I have raved about how beautiful Mana Island is. If you love snorkelling (or haven't tried this yet) and discovering unspoiled, breathtaking marine life in particular, the resort offers a wide range of diving options to whet your appetite. Prices range from FJD$55 to FJD$300 (excluding gear hire), and as always they are subject to change so please ensure you contact the resort prior to booking.

If snorkelling is really not your thing then you can't go past lazing your (slow Fiji) time away on the gorgeous white sandy beach and calm, crystal clear water. Serenity!

Note: A ferry transfer is required to the resort at additional cost, please visit Mana Lagoon Backpacker's website for more information on ferry options.

If you have stayed in any of the above accommodation or planning to, please feel free to leave your comments and experiences below.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Top 5 Fiji Islands Romantic Getaways

Leave the children and cares behind! It is all about you and your better half at these romantic resorts and beautiful getaway destinations.

Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji Islands

Likuliku Lagoon Resort

This is Fiji's only resort to have "over the water" bures (traditional huts), including spacious swim-off decks! This is my top pick for a romantic getaway even though it is a bit on the expensive side. It has an infinity pool with lounges that are strategically set up with the Tatadra spa. Exclusive bookings can be made to use the spa at twilight for a couple. It is an exquisitely designed Fijian owned couples resort in the Mamanuca Islands. The bures feature traditional architecture and uses materials which are naturally found and unique to the region. There are forty five bures out of which ten are over the water. Each feature air conditioning, music systems, land-line telephones, free Wi-Fi, flat screen monitors, DVD players and a king size bed.

The heart of the Resort is a magnificent building in the design of a Fijian canoe. Likuliku Lagoon Resort is the perfect location to celebrate a wedding, honeymoon, renewal of vows or anniversary. One thing to note is that the resort does have a childrens policy where children under the age of seventeen years are not permitted on the island. The culinary experience at Likuliku presents exquisite flavours of the Pacific Rim delivered by Executive Chef Ihaka Peri and his team.

This resort is about 15 minutes helicopter ride away from Nadi International Airport, access to Likuliku is via private speedboat, seaplane, fast catamaran or helicopter direct to the Resort’s own heli-pad. If you need help with transfers the resort will be more than happy to help you. It has also won many awards like Best Overseas Resort 4th consecutive year in Australia's Luxury Travel Magazine annual Gold List Awards, named Best Luxury Accommodation in the annual AON Fiji Tourism Awards for Excellence and TripAdvisors Travelers' Choice Award for 2013.

Tokoriki Island Resort

Tokoriki Island Resort, Fiji Islands

This resort has five bungalows with their own plunge pools and adjoins the Tokoriki Lagoon marine park sanctuary featuring coral gardens and exotic sea life. The staff are friendly and will know your name first hand. All thirty four luxury bures and villas are free standing, air conditioned, enveloped in lush tropical gardens and positioned beach front offering the perfect sunset. The Sunset Pool Villas combine elevated views with the privacy of a horizon edge plunge pool and a daybed. There are plenty of activities available to do on the island and off. If you are looking for a peaceful getaway with no children, and considerable relaxation you would not go wrong staying here the whole trip to Fiji. They have also designed romantic indulgence packages for two that will definitely set the mood for a great romantic getaway.

It is part of the Mamanuca group of islands and only twelve minutes from Nadi by seaplane or helicopter. If you want to sail by large catamaran, charter a private speed boat then you will be in your bure in just over an hour. There is free return transfers to the resort based on what package you choose. It has also been voted one of the Most Romantic Hotel in the World by TripAdvisor making a perfect couples' destination.

Namale Resort and Spa

Located on the edge of the Koro Sea this award winning, all inclusive resort and spa is recognised by TripAdvisor as a 2013 Travelers' Choice winner. The island is very lush and tropical, with a great Fijian feel. The resort is known for its spa and luxurious accommodations. They have one hundred and forty staff at one time which is about three pairs of hand to look after each guest which ensures your experience is a seamless one. You can dine a three course lunch or a five course dinner anywhere your heart desires. You can choose from your own private sun deck, the beach, inside a cave or your own gorgeous Fijian bure or villa overlooking the Koro Sea. They also have five honeymoon bures that is especially equipped with a complete spa tub and shower with a private ocean front deck. Three of these love nests also has private plunge pools.

The Fiji Spa & Sanctuary offers a variety of treatments, with friendly and knowledgeable staff at hand. Activities at Namale are abundant, ranging from ocean trampoline, to Golf and Tennis, to their own bowling alley. Namale is located on Vanua Levu, travelling to Vanua Levu includes taking a flight from Nadi, or a neighbouring island, into Savusavu airport, then a short drive to the resort.

Matamanoa Island Resort

Matamanoa Island Resort, Fiji Islands

It is less luxurious than Tokoriki Island Resort, but Matamanoa Island Resort is a good choice for cost conscious honeymooners with beautiful white beaches surrounding the island. Matamanoa Island is a small boutique, adults' only, private resort located in the Mamanuca group of Islands, just ten minutes by helicopter from Nadi Airport. Catering to couples in either twenty air conditioned beach front bures or thirteen resort rooms, for a maximum of sixty six guests. Guests can enjoy dining in the relaxed atmosphere of the onsite restaurant and later chill out with a fine drink at the cocktail bar. You can laze on the beautiful white sand beach, swim in the crystal clear waters of the South Pacific, sip a cocktail while watching the sunset or enjoy a couples massage at Veidomoni Spa.

This island is perfect for those wanting a place in Fiji that is child free but not overly pricey. It is peaceful and quiet, with an excellent range of activities and fantastic snorkelling sites around the island. Note that this resort does have a childrens policy where children under the age of sixteen years are not permitted on the island. The hotel has also received the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award.

Sau Bay Fiji Retreat

Sau Bay Fiji Retreat, Fiji Islands

This resort is nestled amongst ninety nine acres of virgin rain forest overlooking a bay. There are four ocean front cottages, one luxurious African Safari tent which provides a harmonious balance between modern comforts and beach house chic, creating an ambiance of harmony, romance and privacy. Set in a private jungle, each cottage has a granite wet bar, walk through closet, modern bathroom and a private outdoor shower. While the African Safari tent is set in a private jungle above ground surrounded by natural rainforest.  It has a separate bedroom and private bathroom leading to an outdoor rock shower with complimentary Pure Fiji products. It also has a plunge pool built into the deck with sitting rooms opening up to deck with an ocean view. Complimentary activities includes guided hike to the "Top of the World" with breathtaking views of neighbouring islands, a gentle coastal walk, ocean kayaks, sailing or snorkelling. You can also use their "Pamper Services" to relax and rejuvenate your body and mind.

The resort can be reached via a one hour flight from Nadi International Airport to the island of Taveuni, followed by a twenty minute boat transfer. The resort is also situated minutes from the famous Rainbow Reef.  With over twenty five dive sites suitable for both the well travelled diver and novice diver. With only a maximum of twelve divers at a time you will be guaranteed personal attention and service.

Have you been to any of these resorts before or islands? What was your experience? Please feel free to share and comment below.