The need to do a visa run from Australia is also the perfect opportunity to visit a new country! This time it was Fiji. A string of beautiful islands in the South Pacific, West of Tonga. With a population of around 849,000 and a British and dutch Colonial history, the main Island of Vitu Levu was the destination this time.
The best time of year to visit is between May and November as the rest of the year is Cyclone season. Unfortunately it was March and Cyclone Tomas was busy carving a path of destruction through some of the Eastern Fijian Islands. Many of which had been evacuated. Vitu Levu’s international airport was closed for a few days causing a day’s delay in arriving. Nothing compared to the 3 days some people had to wait on the Island. Thankfully Vitu Levu was not directly hit by Cyclone Tomas and apart from shops closing in preparation for worse weather, it was not effected. Cyclones are definitely worth looking out for if you plan to travel between December and April.
Just 3 hours 45 minutes from Sydney Airport in Australia. A free shuttle bus from the hotel failed to arrive so a quick 10 minute taxi ride costing 10 Fijiandollars did the trick. The “Beach Escape Villas” is a small hostel with cute bungalow style buildings with no more than 6 people per bungalow. Situated down a long drive away from the main road with a few other hotel resorts. It’s slightly isolated from Nadi’s main town area but sometimes that’s a good thing! Double and twins were available but a cheap dorm room for $15 (£4.34) was perfect for a short stay. With the bungalows all situated around a central pool and bar area it had a cosy feel and the friendly staff prepared tasty cheap food.
The hotel was busy on the first night with people stuck on the island due to the Cyclone. While the bar at the hostel closes at 10pm thankfully other nearby resorts had entertainment. The Smuggler’s Cove had fire shows with Fijian men dancing in traditional costumes. There was a much more lively atmosphere here than the hostel and it’s a great chance to meet fellow travelers and swap travel stories and experiences.
As you’d expect from a nation made up of many small island there are a lot of boat tours. Diving is exceptional in this area including the chance to feed sharks! This time a tour of the North West islands was a great choice. Picked up at 7:15am the full day tour takes you by bus to Port Denarau in Nadi where the “Awesome Adventures” catamaran takes you to the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands. Stopping numerous times along the way giving you the chance to stop off and be picked up on it’s return. The first islands of Mamanuca included the tiny island of South Sea. Barely above sea level and just big enough to fit a resort hotel on. A perfect hideaway destination if you can handle being that disconnected from town life.
The Island of Naviti, half way along the tour was a good choice to get off for some food at the Botaira Resort. While lunch is included with the tour spending a little extra gets you some amazing locally caught Lobster after a stunning Ceviche starter, served in half a freshly opened Coconut! The Bungalow style resort looked gorgeous with some of the tour passengers opting to stay the night.
Paying a little extra on the boat gets you a seat in the “captain’s lounge”. An air conditioned room with free drinks and pastries. Oddly enough on the return journey they decided showing “Open Water” a movie about 2 divers who are left behind and eventually eaten by sharks, would be a wise choice of movie! Made all the more puzzling by being switched off 20 minutes before the end.
With an early flight back to Sydney, the last night was a quiet one by hostel bar. A short yet interesting visa run to the beautiful Fijian islands. It’s cheap and friendly resorts with lots of gorgeous beaches and boat excursions make it an easy choice for most people traveling through the region. Just keep an eye on the weather reports in case a Cyclone is on it’s way.