By Rebecca Johnson
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ll know Fiji is one of the most popular travel destinations for Australians. With fantastic weather, some of the most luxurious resorts in the south pacific and only being a 3-hour flight from Australia, do I need to give you another reason to go? When you do, make sure you get out of your resort and see the real Fiji. I’ve been going to Fiji for almost 10 years, and here are my tips for how to see the local side!
Get off the mainland
Given Viti-Levu, (the main island of Fiji) houses over 50% of the population, has many of the larger resorts, and is also home to the airport, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this as the only place to seek out that Fijian getaway. Don’t get me wrong, the Coral Coast has some beautiful flop and drop resorts, but if it’s white sand and sparkling water you are after, then your island paradise awaits!
The 2 main island groups, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas, sit off the west coast of Viti-Levu. If it’s crystal clear water, sparkling white sand, and marine life big enough to rival an aquarium that you are after, then this is the place to head!
Visit a village
The Fijian people are some of the happiest, easy-going, worry-free people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I have been lucky enough to develop friendships with many of the staff I have met while travelling. If you get the chance, I urge you to get to know these beautiful people- chat to your bartender, get to know your nanny, you never know, they might even invite you home for a bowl of kava! And while we are on that….you may have heard it tastes like dirty water, I can’t say I disagree, but being involved in a formal kava ceremony is an experience not to be missed!
As I said before, the coral reefs in Fiji are some of the best in the world! Grab a snorkel and get wet to experience all this beautiful reef has to offer! Don’t be afraid if the fish come close, the marine life are just as friendly as the locals! Want to keep your feet dry? Not to fear, glass bottomed boats are a big thing here, allowing you to see the best the reef has to offer from the comfort of your seat. Most resorts have one of these, don’t forget to ask at the local tour desk!
Take a public bus
The first time I caught a public bus in Fiji I didn’t quite know what to make of it. The loud music pulsing from the speakers vibrated the bus so much I thought it might stall, the passenger next to me kept shoving his leg against mine and I felt like I might fall out the window every time the driver took that turn just a little bit too quickly…. Safe to say, once I got off, I was glad to be on land again. But soon, the experience became addictive, and every time a bus drove by I was thinking about the reggae and the colourful array of people that rode the bus. This is the way to see the real Fiji, away from the westernised environment of resorts, watching people go about their daily lives.
Be patient and go with the flow
‘Fiji time’ can be challenging for those unfamiliar with the concept. Generally, don’t expect anything to be done in a hurry in Fiji. You want a drink? Sure! It may take half an hour to get to you, but when it does, it will be worth it! Take the time while you wait to chat to the bartender, stare at the sunset, or, just close your eyes and dread the moment when you it’s time to leave your own little slice of paradise.