Something you should know about Fiji: it's made up of more than 300 islands. If you are like us and have a limited budget/time frame, this makes choosing where to go a tad tricky (not that I'm expecting any sympathy here; I realize picking which tropical island to visit isn't such a bad problem to have.) We ended up choosing two islands in the Yasawa Island chain, Tavewa and Waya.
Unless you have beaucoup bucks and can afford to fly, the only way to access the Yasawas is via this big yellow catamaran right here:
|The Yasawa Flyer|
The trip out to the islands was highly enjoyable as we got to take in all of the great views the Yasawas have to offer.
|The tiny South Sea Island|
Our first stop was the tiny island of Tavewa where we stayed at a small, no-frills place called Otto and Fanny's. It was definitely basic compared to a lot of accommodation you'll find in the Yasawas but it had everything we were looking for: friendly staff, a white sand beach and several loyal dogs (though this last point may have excited me slightly more than Ben.) Plus, for a couple of nights we were the only people staying there . As in, we had the place all to ourselves. How often does that happen?! We spent an amazing few days swimming, scuba diving, exploring and just relaxing.
|A beautifully decorated bed|
|One of our canine friends, Midnight|
|Our 'bure' (Fijian hut/structure)|
|Pretty much our own private beach, just a few steps from our bure|
|Taking it all in|
|Midnight was a fixture on our porch|
|A coconut plant?!|
|Local boy spear-fishing|
|The perfect chair|
After four nights on Tavewa Island we headed to Waya, where we spent one night at Octopus Resort.
|Waiting for our boat|
Octopus could not have been more different from Otto and Fanny's. It was definitely a proper 'resort': people were sipping cocktails by the pool, there was organized entertainment/activities and (by my standards anyway) the accommodation was pretty luxurious. Although it was lacking the personal feel of Otto and Fanny's, Octopus had more of an atmosphere and gave us the chance to meet some other travelers.
|Another beautiful beach, albeit a bit more crowded!|
After leaving the Yasawas (something I was not happy to do) we headed to the village of Namatakula, located on the southern coast of Fiji's main island. We spent two nights at Danny's Homestay which was run by a local Fijian couple, Danny and Tupou, who were as lovely and accommodating as could be. We stayed in a wonderfully rustic cabin, ate plenty of tasty home-cooked meals and thoroughly enjoyed the family feel of the place. While the islands had been nothing short of paradise, they didn't give me the impression that we had seen any of the 'real' Fiji; the homestay allowed us to do just that.
|Playing games with the local village kids|
|Enjoying a big family dinner|
|Note the headlamp... there were no outdoor lights in the village!|
While at the homestay we also had the chance to try kava, a traditional (and mildly narcotic) Fijian drink that's made from a pepper plant and drunk from the half-shell of a coconut. You have to drink a lot to feel its full effects but it only takes a sip for your tongue to go numb. It looked like dirty dish water but surprisingly it didn't taste too bad!
Not only was Fiji probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen in real life but our time spent there made it clear why the Fijian greeting of bula directly translates to life; the people of this country are simply full of it.