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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.