If you’re looking for an island paradise, one thing to consider is that the further you go, the fewer the people. For some, Fiji may not be the most accessible country in the world, especially if you don’t like long flights, but if you want to drop out of the rat race and leave your cares behind, well, then get out the inflatable neck pillow, we’re going on a long-haul. And yes, paradise does await.
Fiji is made up of more than 300 islands, but eeeeeeverybody flies into Nadi (pronounced ‘Nandi’) International Airport, on Vitu Levu, first. Approximately 87% of Fiji’s population lives either on Vitu Levu or Vanua Levu, the two big islands, and sure, you could stay there, too. There are plenty of sweet spots along the coastline within easy reach of Nadi. But remember what we said? The further you go…
When Francis and I picked Fiji as a destination in 2008, we were in dire need of a bit of pampering. We dislike large resorts, though. In fact, I don’t think we’d ever stayed at a resort before. The search for a small-but-fantastic place with quiet beaches and no children began, and soon, the interwebs presented us with the incomparable Navutu Stars on Yaqeta Island, part of the Yasawas chain.
To get there, we hopped on the Yasawa Flyer, a catamaran ferry that leaves from the Port Denarau Marina. The ride to Navutu takes four hours, but along the way, you get a chance to view other islands and resorts during (the first) four stops in the Mamanuca chain and then about a dozen more quick Yasawa stops. After Navutu, the ferry goes even further still.
And what is Navutu Stars all about? Well, considering that Francis and I aren’t resort people but made another trip to Navutu in 2010 says something. Just nine bures (Fijian-style huts), private beaches, snorkeling and fishing in perfectly blue water, and last but definitely not least, a team of warm, wonderful staff. Here are some of my favorite photos from our trips, and tips on how to maximize your time in paradise. I apologize in advance if viewing them causes you to plunder your savings account and book a trip to Fiji tout de suite. (Do it.)
Tip #1: Spend as much time in or on the water as you can, sometimes with a dog.
Tip #2: Eat what you catch.
Tip #3: Sing (a lot) and tell really funny stories.
Tip #4: Attend a wedding, or maybe Sunday church in a village. And sing (a lot).
Tip #5: Hang out with the staff, and sometimes a dog.
Tip #6: Eat lots of yummy stuff and then lay in your hammock.
Tip #7: Watch the stars at night, take selfies on the beach and thank the universe for having put you there in the first place.
Finally, when you’re leaving the islands, Jack’s of Fiji provides the perfect souvenir option, because didn’t you always want a cannibal fork?
p.s. The dog in the photos is the lovely Mia, a purebred Golden Retriever. Her humans are the resort’s owners, who, at the time of our second visit, were building a sister resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Maya has since joined them there, but in 2010, in their absence, she adopted us for the length of our stay, following us during many of our activities, including snorkeling (the only problem with that was that she got so tired swimming out to us that she’d then climb on me, hence the reason I’m holding a Golden Retriever in a Fijian bay).
p.p.s. The bald fellow with the goatee in the photos is Ed, a New Zealand-Italian mixed breed that we adopted during our second visit. Actually, he was managing Navutu Stars while the owners were in Cambodia. He has since joined them there, too.