Hawaii/Fiji Trip - Jan. 23 - Feb 7, 2009


January 23rd - February 7, 2009

Bob and Debe Canaday

Where does one begin with a trip like this. Lets see where to start. After months of research, we finally found the hotels, an island for our time sharing and exactly what we would do for over two weeks on this exotic trip. So here are the plans. (after many plane cancelations, hotel changes, etc..) We would fly to Oahu, Hawaii, stay until January 25th, then fly to Nadi, Fiji. At Nadi we would check into the Denarau Westin Hotel until January 28th when we would head to Sigatoga and stay at the Bedarra Inn. On January 31 we would then pack up for our trip to Suva and on to the island of Naigani Island where we would move into our time sharing for one week. This was the part that scared me. lol And after the stay on the island, we would be back to boats, automobiles, and planes as we headed back to the US crossing back over the international date line and confusing me even more. Anyway - hop on as we take you on a journey that would change many things and how we looked at them.

One of the things I looked forward to the most was our trip to Hawaii. It is definitely my favorite place to visit. But because of a flight change, we would lose three days in Hawaii and stay in Fiji longer. So once in Hawaii, we got checked into the hotel - Ohana Waikkki West and went to eat. Since we had a four hour time change, we headed to bed early to be rested for a full day tomorrow. The next morning we had breakfast at the Galaxy Steak House ($3.50 for 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, & 2 bacon) then off to the beach.

Above you will see photos from Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and the International Market Place. (including the food court were you can find a variety of great foods) Since we had never been to the famous Hilo Hattie Store and our hotel offered a free trolley, we decided to go. But we found nothing to buy - to expensive. In the bottom right photo you will see the Aloha Clock Tower which is located at the cruise ship terminal.

A trip to Oahu is never complete without eating at Shorebird, found right on Fort DeRussy Beach. You might have to cook your own meat but it is a fantastic place to eat as the sun sets. Go early for a table next to the beach though. Prices are about $16.95 and up. Check out the photos below of the beautiful sunset we watched from our table.

We had taken the shuttle from the airport at honolulu when we arrived so we were picked up at our hotel at about 4 a.m. for our early flight to Fiji. (shuttle cost $15 per person round trip) On this flight, we would cross the international date line and lose almost a day. We would now be 18 hours different in time from St. Louis. (so on Jan 26th, we missed over half of Micah's 19th birthday lol Sorry son but happy birthday and love you) The flight from Hawaii was only seven hours so it wasn't bad. Glad we split the flight up with 8 hours to Hawaii, then a rest and now 7 hours more. lol

We arrived at the Nadi airport and picked up our car, grabbed a map, and headed to Denarau Island, but ended up in downtown Nadi. We were thinking, where in the world have we gone to?. Where is this beautiful place with white sand beaches, green grass and islands that you see in brochures and on tv? What we found was a city that had just experienced the worst flood it had ever had and left the town devastated. Houses washed away, lives lost, trash everywhere from washing out of houses. Furniture on roofs to dry. Some of the stores downtown were totally empty from the fronts being washed away and the contents of the store vanished in the floods. We would come back here later but for now lets find Denarau Island and our hotel.

We finally noticed we had missed a round-about because it had been washed away in the flood. So once we figured that out - it was off to our hotel, the Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa. Very very nice. Above are a couple photos from the hotel.

As you can see from the above newspapers, they were recovering from a massive flood and we came during that time. Below on the left is one of the many houses that is unliveable. In the below right photo, this is taken in downtown Nadi, Fiji and the red line on the post shows how high the water was in the downtown area.

In the picture above on the left, just one of many of the buildings that lost the entire front of it. This was a bank that lost everything. On the right is a store that is having a "flood" sale. That means they have shoes that are filled with mud that you can pick up for about $1. Below is a picture of me and Bob taken in downtown Nadi on one of our trips through the area.
Another thing we had read about and wanted to visit was the Nadi market. This is also downtown Nadi but because of the flood, many people did not come back after the flood and set up their wares. So we didn't have any luck picking up a souvenir at the market.

Back at Denarau Island, we headed to the Port Denarau Marina because we heard they had restaurants, stores and money exchange and we needed to get some Fiji dollars. A brand new Hard Rock Cafe had just opened so I was able to get one of the pins I collect along with eating dinner there. At the Marina, the exchange was $1 US dollar = $1.75 Fijian dollars. And the food at Hard Rock was about $15 Fijian dollars average. After some shopping (see the kava bowls below I will talk about Kava later) we headed to an internet shop that was $3 Fijian dollars per hour and was fairly fast.

I do want to take a moment to explain the Kava Bowls below. Kava is a lush, leafy green member of the pepper family, from the tropical islands of the South Pacific. Kava literally translates as "intoxicating pepper" and has been used for centuries, by the inhabitants of the South Pacific Islands -as a ritual drink, a social beverage, and also as a medicine. Kava also has a couple of different names in Fiji. It can be known as either "yaquna" or "grog." It is very common for Fijian families to drink kava as a nightly ritual. Kava eases the day's anxieties, and it provides a restful sleep devoid of any of the hangover symptoms produced by alcohol. Kava use can ease social barriers, as well as promote discussion and lengthy talks. In fact, it can also be a great way to loosen up around a romantic interest. If you're unable to act or speak naturally because you're nervous, a little kava can help calm you down while keeping you alert. If you enter a village in Fiji, which is done only by the permission from the village chief, you are ask to donate money, kava roots, or something. And during the ceremony they will present you with kava to drink. I passed on this ritual but at our hotel in Sigatoga (later in the trip) Bob did fortake in the ritual. So below are the bowls (which come in many sizes) that are used to make the kava in. A small wooden cup/bowl would be what you drinked it from.
Today we were up early for breakfast, included with our hotel and delicious, then off for a drive to Lutoka to visit the sleeping giant. We could see the mountain called the "sleeping giant" but couldn't figure out how to get to it and needed to get back to Nadi to get on the internet so we passed. But below are a couple of pictures I took on the drive. On the left is the railroad cars still used for sugar cane while on the right are some kids in a village swimming and jumping off the bridge.
One big tourist attraction I wanted to see was the Hindu Temple. I had seen pictures of how colorful and beautiful it was but once we saw it, I was shocked how small it was. We had to take our shoes off while walking around and could not take any pictures in the temples but the following pictures were taken on the outside of the buildings which was allowed. It did cost $3.50 Fijian dollars and there was a dress code. Girls had to have their legs and arms covered and guys did also. The Hindus worship many gods and the carving throughout the temple were awesome. You could also see when the flood had washed the paint off the lower part of the temple area.

After another great night of sleep, it was back to Port Denarau Marina for a boat ride with South Seas. (cost $39 US per person) The boat was called the Tiger and we booked what was called a tag along tour. This means people that would be going out to the islands for a day or so would be dropped off, people that had been dropped off a day or so earlier would be picked up and anyone going from island to island would be picked up and dropped off at the island they were going to. We would just ride along. These island were the Manuma Islands and they were definitely the beauty you see on brochures and in the movies. Beautiful. Above is a sign with prices for backpackers doing a couple islands or different overnights to the island. Great prices includes food and room. The first island we came upon was South Sea Island - above and the second island was called Bounty Island - below.
We dropped off people at Treasure Isand and Beachcomer Island (no photos posted) but the below photos are from the island called Mana Island which had a couple dive shops on it, a spa, and was really a beautiful island. Many people were using the small sailboats (photo below), doing private ship excursions, scuba diving, etc.. The bottom left picture shows us pullling up to a pier and the island locals sang to us and greeted the boat for the new people coming to the island. (all the other islands we dropped people off at, we did not pull up to a pier but instead small boats came out to us and picked up the people and their luggage.

Our next stop was at an island that everyone will recognize if they have seen the movie, "Castaway." Yes, below is Castaway Island. I checked to see if Wilson was floating by but no sign of him. lol

At the final stop, several boats came rushing to ours. (see photo on the left below) Seems many people go to this island as there are many resorts around it. It is the largest of the islands with Likuliku Resort being the most popular. In the below photos you can see that it has huts that are built out over the ocean so for a cool $1000 Fiji Dollars (we think they meant Fijian money) you can stay ONE night. lol

Below is a close up of one of the huts that is over the water. Beautiful but expensive.
After our return to the Marina, it was time to get back to the Westin Resort, grab our bags and get checked out. The drive from Nadi to Sigatoga would only be one hour and was absolutely beautiful. We went through many small villages but finally made it to Sigatoga where we had to cross the river and continue past the town a small way to get to our hotel. The river had been a big part of the recent flood in Sigatoga but not as bad as Nadi had seen with two rivers by their town.
After getting checked into the our room (#21 and overlooked the pool) at the Bedarra Beach Inn, we headed back to Sigatoga to hike the Sand Dunes but was told it was to hot to hike them that day. So we went into town and used the internet - cost $3 Fijian per hour. We had dinner at the Le Cafe down the road but found out during our stay that the restaurant at the hotel had great food and we ate many of our meals there. The hotel had been a huge home that was converted into a hotel, adding an additional building with rooms. But only about 22 rooms in the hotel. After checking in, everyone addressed you by your name and greeted you with the traditional "bula!"

We had a great night sleep and then headed to the restaurant for breakfast which was included. ($105 US per night) Since it was a cloudy day - we decided that morning to head to Sigatoga Dunes again. We decided to do the one hour hike since it looked like it could rain any minute. Almost all the sand dunes in this hike were covered with vegetation so we later wished we had done the two hour hike. It did rain and we had to stop for about an hour in a shelter. After an hour delay and no stopping of the rain in sight, we opened our umbrellas and finished in the rain. There were wild horses walking around also and some areas were slick from the water. There was a small fee to do the hike in the dunes. (below are photos of Bob and I at the entrance sign while another photo shows Bob at the entrance to the trails sign and one of him in the shelter during the rain)

Below on the left is a photo of the town of Sigatoga which is where we had dinner one night and we used the internet. On the right below is a picture of one of the bridges that was partly washed away in the flood. A new bridge had already been built for automobiles so the old bridge was used by locals to walk across.

Below are a couple photos of people in Sigatoga. The one on the left is of kids playing in the river bank while on the right is a photo of some locals as they fished from the bank. You can see on the bank in the photo all the debris left after the flood.

The following day was one of the highlights of the trip. We had to get up early to get picked up for the long drive to meet up with Rivers Fiji for the Upper Nauva River white water rafting. The cost was expensive at 275 Fiji Dollars per person (and that was negotiated down to 220 Fiji Dollars) which was $125 US per person plus 40 Fijian Dollars or $23 per person for the pick up. Just getting to the river was an adventure. The below bus took us up and down huge hills before being dropped off at the river.

The following pictures start with us being given safety instructions for the float and are followed by many photos from the float. These include several beautiful waterfalls we saw, the unbelievable gorges we went through, and some photos of us going through some areas of rough waters. The last two photos show the photographer on his kayak in the rain storm that hit us at the end of the trip and a photo taken of Bob and I on the raft. The trip had lunch included and that was done by stopping on the bank of the river and setting up the prepared lunch. The following pictures came from the photographer (an additional cost) who came along with us and I had an underwater camera. Also a guy named Nick from Australia and his friend were in our raft and he had an underwater digital camera. So go ahead, check them out and click on any of them you would like see closer up. Awesome, awesome trip and beautiful scenery. The cost was high but it was well worth the unbelievable sites we were able to see. By the way, I am in the green jacket and Bob is in the blue jacket. (standing on the bank in the first photo) lol There were two rafts with four people and a driver in each. We had Joe as our driver while the other raft had Moses.

After an absolutely great pick of things to do, it was back to Bedarra Inn, dinner at the hotel and one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. (see photo below) Bob took part in the Kava Ceremony along with a couple that we had met from Australia which were also staying at the hotel. Then it was off to bed. We would be heading to Suva tomorrow and on to the island we would be staying on for a week. We needed a good night sleep because this trip would be a little long and we hear rough at times.
The next morning it was up early for breakfast. Nothing like animals walking along everywhere as you are eating. Below is a picture of some cattle as they looked for a place to graze.
And of course, before leaving we needed to take some photos. I just learned how to use the timer on the camera so now, hopefully we will have more photos of the two of us. lol Below are some photos by the beach at the Bedarra In.
Welcome to Suva. Suva is the capital of Fiji and was a two hour drive from Sigatoga. The drive was filled with beautiful hillsides, lots of animals crossing the streets and many villages to go through. It was all so interesting. We had hoped to spend some time in Suva but it seemed our taxi to take us to the jetty pick up was already there and the jetty was waiting for us. So we turned in our car and got in the taxi. Our next two hour adventure would take us through many more villages and over some rough roads. Our taxi driver was a Hindu Indian and we got alot of history about the Fijians, who seem to be more laid back versus the Indians, who were brought there years ago to work and now are the owners of most of the stores.

Now, I wasn't driving so I was able to take many pictures. Above on the left is a small market set up in front of a home, selling the produce and food they raise. If you make the picture big you will also see the sign that says, "chicken 4 sale!" lol What we also learned is many village people head out in the morning into the brush and find their food for the day. You see them coming out of the brush with burlap bags filled with roots, coconuts, fruit, or whatever they could find to eat for the day. Then in the afternoons the men usually fished for the meat for dinner. We felt that Fiji was about 100 years behind the US on so many things. Above right and the below photos show the people with their food finds of the day along with wheelbarrels filled with what they picked to eat or sell.

Another thing you will see is that most everyone has a big knife or machete. They use these to get their food. In the right photo above you will see the typical "bure!" This is the Fijian home. It has a tall roof so the heat rising out of the home. And windows so that a breeze can blow through them. In the past few years houses have been built the typical way we build them but now they were going back to the style of their ancestors.
After two hours on the road, we finally made it to the jetty (boat) pickup. The road was very bad at times to get to the Natovi Jetty pick up but slowly, we made it. Once in the jetty we headed to the island of Naigani which would be our home for the next week. Above is the island as we headed to it. We felt bad that so many people were there waiting for us, including the chief of the village on the island. The manager was also there to greet us and we showed our paperwork that we were not suppose to be picked up until 3 in the afternoon versus 10 a.m. when the taxi was there. Many village people were on the boat along with one lady that we found would be our night waitress for the next week.

Above on the left is our "bure #7!" This building had an one bedroom on the left of it (ours) and the right side was a two bedroom unit. Above on the right you can see our unit had a full size bed, twin bed, and a couple of chairs. Not in the picture was our small kitchen with fridge and the bathroom and closets. We had read that there was no air conditioner and that bug nets were around the bed but we were surprised to find we did have an air conditioner. (and no bug nets. lol) Since the island runs with a generator, it was turned off from 4 a.m. - 7 a.m. and then again from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Below is a picture of the view out the front of our bure.
On the left below is a picture of me on the beach in front of our bure while the photo on the right is the walk way through the coconut trees to the kitchen/dining area, pool, meeting areas for excursions, store, office, etc.. It was definitely scary walking under the coconut trees. Everyday we heard and/or saw coconuts falling. Also the mosquitos were horrible. They had those mosquito coils in the bures for guests to use and I lit one up each night that burned all night long

We chose the full meal program to start. On the left below is the dining area and as you can see, the two black chalkboards have the lunch and dinner menus for us to pick what we wanted prepared. This was done at breakfast time. In the right photo is Bob eating breakfast one morning. Breakfasts included fresh fruit, some type of hot bread/scones/doughnuts that was different every day and delicious, cereal, pancakes, and eggs cooked to order with bacon/sausage or ham. Later in the week, we cut our meals back to regular breakfast, and lunch and dinner ala carte. Cut our bill in half and still plenty of food.

Below on the left is the swimming pool while on the right was the golf course. I have to admit, I only saw two flags and the golf course wasn't usuable. They did weed eat (yes weed eat) the entire thing while we were there which made it better.

You could also get a massage at the massage hut if you could catch the lady there. We only saw her the day before we left and the day we left. On the right was the internet room. It was expensive at 15 Fijian dollars per hour but Bob did have to use it about every other day to keep in contact with the office.

One day Bob did go scuba diving. Frank and Tony were the dive masters and took Bob out. He did like it but wasn't as fun not having anyone he knew go with him. Below Bob heads out to scuba dive.
We also had kayaks available to use. Bob and I did go around part of the island. Below is a picture of us kayaking and on the right is Bob getting ready to snorkel on a stop while kayaking. We got into the water but within 20 feet we started getting stung by jellyfish and ran out.

We did snorkel at our beach in front of the bure area. On the left below is Bob heading out to snorkel while on the right you can see the blue starfish we found in the water all around the area. In the next two pictures below Bob and the starfish photos, you can see the coral and on the right while the photo on the left has a couple very small blue fish.

Also during our snorkeling we saw the above puffer fish swimming in the grasses. (top left) and in the right photo above you can see the coral as I stood and looked through the clear water. Below on the left is the grave of the village chief. Our island had only one village and the chief was recently in an accident and killed. Because of this, part of the beach was not allowed to be swam in for a year. After the death of the chief in the village, a sacrifice of waters had to be made. It just so happens that was almost directly in front of the resort and our bure. It was marked and no one was allow to swim or go into the water there. In the photo on the right is the village which was over to the left of the resort and you had to walk through on a path through the brush/jungle to get there. This picture is taken by us while on the boat.

The resort was charging 75 Fijian dollars per person to take someone to the old Capital of Fiji - Levuka, which is found on the island of Ovalau. We had met Antone who was from New Zealand and he had been on the island for about a month. He had met the village people and ask them to take us to Levuka. So we paid 100 Fijian dollars for the two of us to go. The boat ride took about an hour but seeing the old capital was worth it. It was like going back in time or walking onto a western set in a movie. Very neat.
Below is the town of Levaku and this was the capital before they moved it to the big island and city of Suva. They felt the capital could not grow on this island since it is so hilly and rocky. Levuka looked just as it did in the 1800's.

Above on the left is the Sacred Heart Church which was built in 1858. The church boasts a French clock that strikes twice each hour, with a one-minute pause in between. Instead of a chime or a clang the clock produces a most unmusical ‘thud.’ On the right is the European War Memorial on Niukaubi Hill. That is Bob and Antone standing in front of it.

Atop Mission Hill are some of Levuka’s finest old buildings, including Methodist mission homes and the Delana Methodist School. To climb the 199 steps(photo above) to the top, begin at the historic Methodist church. The vista from the hill is worth the climb. On the right above is a photo looking out at the reef.

We had lunch at "Whales Tales" where we ordered crepes. They were delicious and cost $4.25 Fijian dollars. Above is the sign and menu from the restaurant.

The island in the distance that you can see in the photo on the left is owned by David Gilmour. Gilmour started Fiji Water. In the above photo on the right, the village guy that took us to Levuka. On the way back to the Naigani Island he fished. It took over two hours to get back to the Naigani island.
While heading back to Naigani Island, we came across this boat. (above left photo) This boat houses fisherman who go out and stay on the boat for days. On the right above shows one of the many parrots that fly all around the island. Below, at dusk, you will see the fruit bats. On the left you can see the bat hanging upside down eating pods off a coconut tree while on the right, I caught the huge bat as he took flight. From wing tip to wing tip we estimated them to be about 3 1/2 feet to 4 feet wide.

Above you can see the moon as the sun begins to set and from another view, the sun setting. This was our last night so seeing this beauty needed to be put in a photo.
Our last dinner was enjoyed in the inside of the dining area. In the background you can see several couples. On the island with us were 2 German Couples and one Canadian couple. On the right is two of the many people that made our trip so fun. Sie, our night waitress and Soka, our host and worked helping to serve dinner a couple nights a week. They were two of the best staff members on the island. One of the cooks we met was Eli but we only saw her once or twice.
I got up early our last morning to see the sun rise. And what a beauty it was. Below was our last breakfast along with our day waitress who was named Sova. She was absolutely great and lived in the village on the island. She was another person that made our stay so special.

As we boarded the boat, the staff (below photos) came out to sing to us as we sailed away. What a great ending from a wonderful staff. If not for the staff, our stay at Naigani Island would not have been as wonderful. We had to return to the big island via john boat since the big boat had broken down earlier in the week when many of us chose to do a "dolphin" run. We came back with the broken down boat while others were picked up in the john boat and continued on the trip.

On our drive back from Suva to Nadi, we stopped at Pacific Harbour. Very nice area with alot of shops and backpackers accommodations which are usually like a hostel. (below photos)

Below you can also see a market in one of the towns we went through while also you saw homemade brooms being sold on the side of the roads.

Fijian villages do recycle and it looks something like the above. Check out what they recycle: "tin cans" "plastik" and "kava" They don't want to forget those kava roots that they need to have their favorite drink each night. lol

Again, on the drive we saw horses not only on the road but running wild on the beaches. Above right you can see the new baby colt with her mom.

And we saw many locals fishing for their dinners. Also enroute to Nadi, we decided to stop at Momi Guns to do a tour. Unfortunately it was closed that day so we didn't get to go in but the view from the area was beautiful.
Across from Momi Guns I snapped a photo, below on the left, of some people farming with oxen. Look at how much plowing they had already done. I can remember when my grandpa put a garden in but it was with a single horse and plow. lol In the right photo I caught these kids swimming in a ditch not worrying about a thing. Some of them didn't even have clothes on. lol

My final picture is the sign saying welcome to Fiji with "Bula!" This is the entrance sign when you arrive at the airport so it would be the last sign we saw heading back to the airport.

What a trip this was. To this trip at one of my favorite islands in Hawaii and continue to uncharted areas of the world for us. We didn't know what we would find but was hoping for the best. And we saw the best and the worst. Going into Nadi, Fiji and seeing the devastation was very sad. But we understood after seeing our home town in the 1993 flood. But we also were able to see the beautiful side of Fiji. One thing for sure, Fijian people are the most friendliest people in the world. So polite, always greet you with "bula" or hello in Fijian. Fijian people speak great English since they are taught three languages in school. And we found no barriers getting around the islands. Naigani Island was very laid back with no phones, tv, and little to do. But it was very relaxing. Thanks again for taking this unique and exciting journey with us. I hope you have learned a little about Fiji and their people as we did.



  1. I liked your blog mom it has been done very good. The pic looked great, I injoyed reading this. keep up the good work and we will see you on the next trip. love you mom Eric

  2. This certainly seems like a great adventure and a trip worth taking. The pictures are wonderful and give you a good feel for what you would experience. I especially ejoyed enlarging the rafting pictures and seeing the expressions on your faces. Diana


Thanks for your comment. If you have any questions from our travels, please email me at debecanaday@yahoo.com

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