During a years trip around the world, we needed a holiday! We decided to head over to Fiji after leaving New Zealand and we were on our way to a ‘tip’ I had been given by a fellow traveller back in Oz, to go to Margaret’s Travel.
TOP TIP (before you travel or book) My travelling friend said ‘do not book anything before you go. Just get to the airport and find an agent – Margaret’s Travel Agent, was who she and I used, and they do everything there. You just need to get to Nadi. there are so many islands there, so many options for you. Good Luck and let me know how you get on!
I had no idea that on arrival, all of the agents in Nadi airport would be swarming all over us. I had stated I was trying to find Margaret and of course, they were all Margaret! (or so they said)
Margaret arranged our two week ‘holiday’ for £308, including 3 meals a day and our room. Bargain! We had decided on 10 nights on Mana Island at Mana Lagoon Backpackers and 2 nights at Beach Comber aka ”the party island”. Our lovely agent also drove us to our first stop Horizon Hostel in Nadi and stopped along to the way to buy us some pineapple from a roadside seller as a treat, this was the first showing of how lovely the Fijian people are. We spent one night on this beach resort, had a beer and watched the sunset. Finally here, in Fiji! I couldn’t believe it.
We got up early to head over to Mana Lagoon. It was a 35 minute boat trip. I was so excited to be stranded on a beautiful island for a break.
On arrival, we were greeted with a welcome song by all of the staff at Mana Lagoon. They took our bags for us and carried them inside, sat us down and performed a show for us, including singing and dancing. There were only myself and my travel buddy who were receiving this wonderful welcome. It certainly set the tone for the rest of our stay.
Mana Island, is part of the Mamanuca Islands. It is 1 of the 332 islands that make up Fiji. You can get here via boat from Nadi. They used to have an airport, but they have since stopped all flights in 2014. There are two hostels on the island and two spa resorts. I can only speak for my hostel, but my budget hostel gave me everything I needed. I had a beach on my doorstep, the most wonderful, kind and entertaining staff, a bed to sleep in and 3 meals a day. It was relaxation heaven.
Our breakfast consisted of pancakes, cakes and porridge. Meals were variations of fish and chicken. We had one evening where we went crab hunting and roasted them fresh on an open fire. This was a real treat! They really looked after us.
Top Tip: Do a day trip to Modriki Island, where the movie Castaway was filmed
We took the boat with 4 of the staff members and one other traveller. The boat trip took 40 minutes. It is an uninhabited island. One of our tour guides, walked us to the highest possible (by foot) view points, which is featured in the film. It was a breathtaking view. Super hot and walking in flip-flops, not sure its the best hiking gear, but we did it! So peaceful on this island. We spent a good few hours on there. We played in the sea for a while whilst the boys climbed trees and collected fresh coconuts to take back with us. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip as it was just us, on a deserted island, far away from anything. It would be terrifying being stranded on here. It was an incredible feeling to be the only ones on the island though, I would highly recommend making a trip out here if you get chance. Pure paradise!
As well as the crab hunting, entertainment was provided by the staff in forms of their native dancing and singing. We also engaged in an evening of kava, which is a tea like drink, created from the root of the kava plant. It’s a relaxation drink, like an over excited camomile. It tastes gross, but it was a ‘I’m travelling and trying new things’ situation.
We had the guys climb trees on a morning and cut us down fresh coconuts. It was our perfect break from months of travelling. In fact, it was so perfect, we decided to sack off the ‘party island’ of beach comber, and stay at Mana Lagoon for longer.
Random memory – These are now the best stars in the sky, I have ever seen.
I remember lazing in the sea one day and heard the squeal of a pig. One sound I will never forget. The small village behind our hostel had been feeding up a pig and were getting him ready for one of their 21st birthdays. Parties are big here and family is very important. With the pig now ready for cooking, they dug a huge sand pit and put the pig in there to slow cook. This is something they would do for many celebrations. Their party went on into the evening.
We took walks on the beach, took a 30 minute tour of the whole island, sang around the camp fire, we took a kayak out for the day, we made friends with the other backpackers and had a goodbye song from the other travellers and staff on our last day. A ritual that we all did for each of the arrivals and leavers, together. It was wonderful.
Top Tip : I think I have said before, but I have an irrational fear of sharks, but I was told, and saw many day trips, to go scuba diving. It’s one of the cheapest places you can do your PADI.
Fiji can be done on a budget, as we found out. It’s just the getting there that may cost you alot. It was our opportunity as leaving New Zealand and heading to America would have been a very long trip. Fiji was the perfect stop-gap.
This was an amazing experience and I will forever be grateful to the wonderful Fijian people for looking after us at Mana Lagoon, the way they did. Such a chilled and beautiful place in the world. It really was the paradise I had imagined.
Is there anything I have missed, that you would like to know? Please, ask away. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share, I would really appreciate it 🙂
#iwozere – Have you been here?