That’s Fijian for hello and one of the words we heard the most during our time in Fiji. Everybody we met everywhere cheerfully greeted us with a big bula and a genuine smile.
With over 330 islands to choose from, we chose to spend most of our time in the Yasawa group of islands to the northwest of the country. The Yasawas are regarded as untouched and wild, a true beach paradise. Each island has only one or two resorts and our days were spent on a variety of activities described below:
Needless to say, there was a lot of beach time in Fiji. All islands were surrounded by gorgeous stretches of sand and palm trees. The water was crystal clear in beautiful hues of blue. We dipped into the water every now and then to escape the heat of the day.
The coral reefs surrounding each island looked healthy and filled with marine life. We went snorkelling pretty much everyday, swimming from our local beach to the reef and exploring the wonders underneath the surface.
The calm waters around the islands were perfect for paddle boarding. Getting high up on the board while paddling through the coral offered a bird eye’s view of the reef. I really enjoyed just paddling out into the ocean and sitting there while meditating. It was very relaxing.
One morning, during low tide, we kayaked to a remote sand bank and spent the whole morning enjoying our private paradise. The water was incredibly clear and the views of the mountains in the background completed the scene. It was one of our best moments in the Yasawas.
We took a cooking class and learned how to make Fijian Kokoda – a twist on a Peruvian ceviche, that includes coconut milk. It is a really simple recipe and we have since made it at home as well. Marinate some soft fish like tuna or mahi mahi with lime juice, add veggies and coconut milk and it’s done.
I thought that the beaches were going to be the highlight of Fiji, but the people there just blew me away – they were extremely friendly, saying bula and chatting with you all the time. This was specially the case during our village visit on one of the islands.
We visited the local school and got to interact with the local four to six year old kids. They sang us some songs and we asked them and the teacher questions about life in the village and at school. It was very eye-opening and endearing to see kids being educated in such different circumstances than in the big cities. What a group of cute and happy and energetic children!
The funniest activity we had was a crab race one night. Used as a fundraiser for the local school, the resort picked a few hermit crabs from the beach and we each bet on a crab. They were put in the middle of a circle drawn in the sand and the race began. It was funny to watch the crabs slowly moving towards the finish line and the crowd cheering for their respective crabs. We picked a very large hermit crab and thought it would win for sure; turns out it was the slowest! Darn – all for a good cause though. No crabs were harmed!
Everyday was some mix of the activities above, along with amazing food served by each of the resorts. It was the perfectly relaxing week and a half, feeling like we were so far from everything. Finally completing our 7th continent! Vinaka Fiji!