The first afternoon I spent in Fiji I was surprised. I knew that the people were lovely, but I really was taken with the beauty. I have always wanted to go to Fiji but I wasn’t sure if you could move about the Island and experience what life is like for people here. Well you can. You can hire a car to get around the main island, Vetu Levi, but if you are not that brave there are local buses and even better still very cheap taxis. We arrived at Nadi in the early afternoon, and after a cheap jetstar flight we were hungry and thirsty. It took a little while to clear customs as we had quite a lot of cheese with us as a treat for some friends living here. In return they booked us a taxi for a 3 hour journey north. Taxis are easy to hire but it was a nice treat to have a driver waiting. The one single feature that lulled me into a pre-love feeling was the 2 men with guitars crooning to the passengers in passport screening. Oh my, a happy guitar strumming dude can make you feel good about customs.
The heat when we left the terminal was excessive around 40 C. The driver of the taxi, asked us if we wanted to turn on the air conditioning when we hoped into the car that incidentally had plastic seat covers. What do you think we said?. I was afraid the cheese would start grilling spontaneously on the back seat. We are headed for Voli Voli Beach Resort to lull ourselves into a relaxed state. Although we are eager to get to the beach , we are hungry and ask the taxi driver if he knows somewhere to eat. Do you like Indian food? he says……. we sure do. Here’s our Thali plate. ($9 Fj). We probably went to his cousins restaurant.
Voli Voli beach resort is owned by New Zealanders who moved here in 2005. It is a bit off the beaten track, in an area that has very few resorts. This northern tip of the island has a lower rainfall and and nearby there are spectacular mountains, traditional villages and thick tropical jungle. Our journey took us along roads that have been recently up graded, through small villages and green mountain passes with peaks of the ocean on our left all the way. The taxi dropped us at the resort around sunset ( $180Fj). This resort seems to offer a bit of everything to everyone in both the restaurant and the rooms. Rooms for groups and backpackers, rooms for families “the studio Valles” with a Queen sized bed several singles, a kitchenette, laundry facilities and bathroom and a large private balcony with spectacular views. The Queen Valles are designed for sharing with two queen beds in a very large room with a double bathroom and balcony. The Valles are set on two hillsides with the pool and restaurant in the middle. It is moderate climb to your room which I really enjoyed because there is no other gym facilities if you don’t count climbing into a hammock. Views from just about anywhere on the property keep reminding you that there is not much to complain about when you are watching the sunrise or sunset. Our room had a view out to the ocean over the trees and was clean and very big. There were very few working light bulbs but, well, it’s Fiji.
Here’s how we saw the first few days of our stay.
The ‘Voli voli’ means sand in the local Fijian dialect, and the beach was named after the sand spit that stretches 80 metres out to sea, providing a wonderful sunbathing spot that disappears at high tide . This is the most northerly point of Viti Levu. The water is clear and inquisitive fish dart around you taking little nibbles and freaking you out a bit.
Because Voli Voli is off the beaten track and has it’s own private beach, pool and restaurant you can become immersed in the place and the activities, or even whoever you are travelling with. Diving is reasonably cheap and very good. Each morning trips leave from the dive shop on the beach at 8.30 am and return for lunch. Here you are offered all levels of diving from experienced to beginner with qualified instructors. Snorkeling, kayaking and laying on the beach are free, but if you want you can go on sunset cruises, fishing trips, local village shopping ( a 10 minute drive away in Raki Raki), join a Kava ceremony or just eat all day. It’s all possible.
All I wanted to do was read a book because there is plenty of exploring ahead of me. I didn’t notice until it was pointed out that there are no TV’s or electronics. No WiFi in the rooms always has me nervous. You can find this in the restaurant but Fiji’s internet is not cheap so there is a fee. The restaurant itself is half sand floor and the rest is full of Fijian made and designed furniture and overlooks the pool. There are big lounges in the as well as tables or you can just eat at the pool if you prefer. By the time to sun has been in the sky for most of the day the pool’s water temperature is like a hot water bath and it’s very hard to resist a beer at the swim up bar. The prices were perhaps not what I expected but they are reasonable Australian cafe prices. The menu offers an international line up of favourites from pasta to curries and sandwiches. The food is a little underwhelming offering more than it delivers but they try really hard and the staff are friendly and helpful. Our most exciting day was when we saw the dive boat come back with two giant red snapper, where we dreamt of charcoal grilled fish and salad, which we didn’t get. It came with rice threaded onto skewers with a cream sauce. A curried Mud Crab dish has to be booked a day in advance so that they can be thawed. Disappointing ( $65 FJ). And God love you Fiji, we asked for a wine list and they said they were making a new one. So after finding this out we asked how we could know what to order, did they have an old one in the meantime? . “Well what do you want to order?” said the waiter. “We’d like to order wine but we dont know what you have” we said. We were soon fully informed that they had white or red. ” Which one do you want?” The wine list was back the next day. Funny Fiji time
3 relaxing days later I am excited to say we are heading off to see Dolphins, in a very special place called Moon Reef 1 1/2 2 hours drive away . Come back and see!
If you are interested in Voli Voli the website is here
My Kitchen Stories travelled independently and all opinions are my own