I arrived in Fiji with zero expectations. I had heard hugely conflicting opinions from good friends, it was like Marmite, people either love it or hate it. I decided to book my flight to Fiji between New Zealand and USA, a popular route for backpackers. The main reason I had to come here was the people who loved Fiji really loved Fiji, it seemed too much of risk not to. And their biggest highlight was usually Island hopping in Fiji.
I arrived in Nadi on the Fiji mainland with plans to meet up with a couple of good friends from England that I’d met on the East Coast of Australia. I’d got there a day later than them, and occasionally when you’re travelling, a plan just falls into place. Its great! You don’t need to spend any time researching guide books, haggling over the price or debating your options. My friends had booked the whole thing and all I needed to do was hand over my Fijian Dollars, kick back with a Fiji Bitter (highly recommended) and enjoy some ‘Fiji Time’!
Our ‘Bula Pass’ around the Islands started first thing the next morning, and after just a few minutes on the boat, it was obvious, Fiji was a bloody paradise and I was going to love it here!
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ur boat pulled into Likuliku Bay, where we were greeted with traditional Fijian music performed live on the beach and a customary “Bula!”. We had arrived at the beautiful Octopus Resort, this paradise was more like a honeymoon destination than a backpacker resort, and although it was the most expensive of the islands we chose, it was absolutely worth it. The price includes all your food and the lower budget option left us in the ‘dorm’, but it had no bunk beds which was a very welcome change.
There’s enough to keep you occupied here for a week, even a month. You can enjoy one of the world’s most popular beach’s, snorkel around the bay, lay by the pool, play beach volleyball with the staff, go sea kayaking, as well as evenings filled with crab racing, live music or a disco to keep you occupied. Visit their website for more activities. My personal highlight was our visit to Nalauwaki Village, where we were greeted by locals and children with cheeky smiles from ear to ear. We could not have felt more welcome. We were treated to Kava, a traditional Fijian drink made from the root of a pepper tree, with deep social and spiritual connotations. This ritual was followed by a choir of simply awesome voices, I have a short, low quality video of them and its still baffles me how great it sounded. After a long day in paradise you can then enjoy a Fijian massage with this an amazing view out to sea.
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]amous for the filming of Celebrity Love Island, our next stop was Bounty Island, the “Jewel of the Mamanucas“. There is some spectacular snorkelling in the marine reserve and the island’s 48 acres of tropical gardens and pristine beaches made it hard to resist! During some seasons you can also feed baby sea turtles and watch them released into the wild! You’ll also find a number of water sports and arranged activities here. Our low budget dorms really were low budget, we were spoiled at Octopus Resort and things here were back to basics, which I didn’t mind at all but this may be the reason some backpackers didn’t like Fiji. There are however a range of accommodation options available on Bounty, to suit your needs. Lastly, it was becoming apparent that sunsets in Fiji were simply irresistible, and Bounty Island was no different.
[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike most of the islands you have a range of accommodation to choose from at Mana, and we found a cheap budget backpackers that immediately made us feel welcome with stories around the fire pit and a cup or two of Kava! This was possibly the friendliest of the islands, however the exclusive resort on the opposite side gave Mana an ‘us and them’ feel to it, which ruined the initial welcome. Although it seems their security at this resort is pretty tight, I did drop in for a dip in their pool on the way to the island viewpoint. Mana has some more incredible snorkelling here, where I saw my first ever reef shark! It just cruised past me, and I spent the next 5 minute losing the group and swimming behind it. If that sounds exciting please take a few minutes to read about an even more terrifying encounter below. Intrepid Encounters: Shark dive video with Bull Sharks in Fiji
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]aved the best until last? Well maybe not, but certainly the craziest! Beachcomber is well known as a party island, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I’d heard it was expensive and full of drunk idiots! (At this point some of you may think I’d fit right in?!) It was immediately apparent from stepping off the boat, a large group of American lads heckled every girl, it was a little intimidating even for me (sorry nothing against American guys, Brits are just as bad, if not worse). The accommodation was a mass dorm, and the bar / party area was strict on ensuring you only drank their alcohol. I did end up having a great time here, it helped that I bumped into a few friends from previous islands. The following day was spent nursing a hangover on the beach. My tip: carefully place your towel in areas unlikely to have been used for sex the night before. Yes, I decided to write that exactly how it is!
On the whole, Island hopping in Fiji is a must. I will 100% come back to Fiji, and hop around some of the other islands. Spending a week surrounded by crystal clear blue waters and immaculate beaches is a backpackers dream. My advice if you speak to anyone who tells you otherwise? Go and see for yourself!
Have you been island hopping in Fiji? Where was your favourite? I’m excited to add some new islands to the list for my next visit! So please put your feedback in the comments below. Thanks for reading.