Five Relaxing Days in Fiji

An Oceania Trip: Part 4

This is the fourth post in a blog series about our November 2017 trip to Oceania. Read about Sydney in Part 1, Cairns in Part 2, or Auckland in Part 3.

Frankly, I didn't find a ton of pictures from Fiji on my phone even though it was very beautiful. We were just having too much fun soaking up the view and having a good time!

Approaching Savala Island in Fiji.

Five Relaxing Days in Fiji


Our flight from Auckland to Nadi was relatively short, at around three to four hours. When we landed, we were greeted by various Fijians as we exited the plane and lined up at customs. They definitely play up the resort aspect of this island nation.

Fiji is more cash-based than Australia or New Zealand, so one of the first things we did was withdraw cash at one of the Westpac ATMs at the airport. A taxi to Denarau Island is about 30 FJD, which we shared with another couple in the same direction.


We stayed at the Westin Denarau Island, which is one of three interconnected SPG properties on Denarau. The other two are Sheraton Denarau and Sheraton Fiji, with the latter being the fanciest. You can go to restaurants at all three and have everything charged back to your room. Each hotel had at least 2 or 3 pools, as well as a beach-side lounging area. The Westin even had a volleyball court and chess board on the beach!

Of course, you can’t be in Fiji and not have access to Fiji water. As all Starwood properties offer free water, we had complimentary Fiji waters waiting for us in our room.

Bring on the complimentary Fiji water!

We ate dinner at Zing, which is an Asian fusion restaurant at the Westin. It offered a mix of Indian and Chinese food, though modified for Western tastes (that's where the fusion part comes in). Zing also turned out to offer the best value out of all the restaurants at the resorts. We also decided to try the local beer (aptly called Fiji beer), which was quite tasty.

Dinner and a beer at Zing, an Asian Fusion restaurant.


We weren’t quite ready to go on a tour just yet, so we basically spent the day lounging at the pool and napping.

We walked around the other Starwood resorts, and found a stall near the Sheraton Fiji. There was a sign advertising a $10 FJD tour to South Sea Island. Upon chatting with the lady at the stall, it turns out they ask you to sit for two hours at a Wyndham timeshare presentation in exchange for an all-inclusive day tour at the South Sea Island, normally $100 FJD or more. Since we were only in Fiji for a short period of time, we chose not to spend half a day at the timeshare presentation, and ended up booking a tour to Savala Island from our hotel.

We made a stop at Port Denarau in the evening, which has a collection of shops and restaurants targeted at tourists. The restaurants offered Western-style cuisine (tailored for the abundance of Australian and New Zealand tourists). The shops are full of cheap souvenirs and vacation-y clothing. Eugene ended up buying a bright flowery shirt for $10 FJD to get into the spirit.

Said shirt.


The closest beach to Nadi is Natadola Beach, about an hour away from Denarau Island. The Starwood properties on Denarau Island have their own taxi service, so it tends to be quite expensive (over 100 Fiji dollars). You also feel bad haggling with the locals because you know they don't make that much and live in villages much further away from Nadi.

The drive is unexpectedly scenic on the way there. You end up passing by many local villages and sugar cane fields, which is the Fiji economy's main export. It's a refreshing change of scenery from the man-made luxury of the Starwood resorts on Denarau Island.

At Natadola Beach, we bought food from the locals, which consisted of fish and cassava for 10 Fiji dollars. This was probably the most authentic Fiji meal we had, compared to all the Western-style fusion food that was available at the resort.

At Natadola Beach.

The white sand beach of Sigatoka stretches for quite a long distance, though I don't know exactly how many kilometres. The size of the beach means that it never really gets crowded. We saw fewer than a dozen other tourists who were snorkeling or swimming in the waters with us.

We hung around the beach for a couple of hours, and bought a coconut from another local after we were done swimming for about 10 Fiji dollars.


This was the one tour we took on the trip, and cost about $130 CAD per person. We decided to go with Savala Island it was privately owned, and only had a set number of tours per day, which meant it was much less crowded than somewhere like South Sea Island.

The crew taking care of us were tirelessly cheerful and talented, serenading us with a series of Bob Marley songs and other classics from their repertoire. There were endless snacks and beverages available on the boat, and we were treated to a delicious barbecue lunch while on the island itself.

The view from our boat on the way to Savala Island.

Savala Island itself is super tiny. You could probably walk around the entire thing in about 15 minutes. Most of the activities were away from the island - you could snorkel, you could paddle board, you could swim, or you could take a boat tour. If you didn't want to do anything, you could sit under one of the umbrellas and read.

We snorkeled around the area for a little bit, but we found the snorkeling equipment to not be that great, so we gave up after about half an hour and decided to take the glass-bottom boat tour. At one point there was also a small group of baby sharks that swam up to shore for food.

Feeding baby sharks.

After snorkeling, we took it easy for the rest of our time on the island, relaxing underneath an umbrella. The white sand, turquoise water and distant mountains really made you feel like you were far away, on vacation.

The view from Savala Island.


Our last day in Nadi was all blue skies and easy breezes. We spent the morning walking around the resort and hanging out by the beaches and pools.

At one point we joined a kava demonstration at the hotel. Kava is basically the national drink of Fiji. It's similar to alcohol or marijuana, in that you drink and it is supposed to relax you. In fact, people say kava is why people are always on "Fiji time" - it doesn't make you feel as though you need to be in a hurry. Both Eugene and I only had a few sips, so I can't say it did much for us, but it was very cool to experience at least a little bit of Fiji culture, even if it was within the confines of a Western-style resort.

Perfect weather at the resort on our last day.

Since we had a late flight, we still had several hours to kill. We decided to spend the afternoon at the Sabeto Hot Springs, which is a family owned business around 20-30 mins away by taxi from the resort. The main attraction here is the mud baths. Basically, you cover yourself in mud and let it dry in the sun. It is charcoal-based mud, which is supposed to draw out impurities from your skin. Once the mud is dry, you then wash yourself off in a series of pools (that get clearer and clearer). I found it a little gimmicky to be honest, but the mud baths weren't crowded at all, which made it very relaxing.

While most of the Fijians that we came in contact with were from a resort or tour group, we nevertheless found them incredibly warm and hospitable. I had read several blogs describing the friendliness of Fijians before going, and rarely did we see a Fijian without a genuine smile on their face and well wishes in their words. Not that people in Australia and New Zealand were unpleasant at all, but we definitely felt like we were well taken care of in Fiji.

As we spent a lot of time at the resort (more or less recovering from our adventures in Australia and New Zealand), we definitely have a long list to check out if we're ever back in Fiji. In particular, we'd like to check out the other island, Vanua Levu, as well as Taveuni Island, which is supposed to have a ton of unique wildlife.

Shortly after our mud baths, it was time for us to pack up and go to the airport. Farewell Oceania! It's been swell.

To be continued in Los Angeles...