Originally from the tiny island of Jersey, UK, Ellen now lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, the Northern Rivers, home to the world famous Byron Bay. Ellen’s passion is being in or under the water. Fins, mask and underwater camera in hand, exploring the reefs and wrecks around Byron Bay is this adventurer’s game.
Hi bikini fans, I’m Ellen- a MI OLA Brand ambassador currently living in sunny Australia. I’m a Brit by birth, so growing up in a place that’s often cold, wet and windy ignited a passion for travel. There’s nothing I love more than a tropical adventure!
I was lucky enough to spend a week in Fiji recently. I’m loving I can share my insights to this beautiful place with you all.
#GetOutThere Guide: Fiji
Fiji is actually a collection of over 300 islands, ranging in size from a few square metres to 10,000 square kilometres. Pretty much all of these islands boast palm-fringed beaches of white sand, surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with corals and fish.
The larger islands boast dramatic mountain ranges and lush valleys, complete with rainforests and waterfalls. Anaconda, Castaway and Blue Lagoon were filmed here.
Let’s face it, you don’t go to Fiji unless you like the ocean! Most of the activities available centre around the turquoise waters.
Explore beautiful, healthy coral reefs close to shore. Swim right off the beach and see an array of soft and hard corals. There’s no missing the huge variety of small, colorful fish.
Prepared to venture out a little deeper? At 3-5 m (10 – 15 feet) deep, you’ll be rewarded with huge coral bombies every colour of the rainbow. Come across Fijian groupers up to 1.5 m (5 feet) long. If you’re there at the right time of the year, you might even see some Manta Rays!
SCUBA schools (PADI accredited) can be found on most of the islands. If you choose to dive I’d recommend the Yasawa Islands. The dramatic volcanic landscapes means the underwater rock formations are equally interesting with tunnels and caves to see.
Experienced guides will take you on excursions to see sharks and turtles.
The island of Tavarua is at the southern end of the Mamanucas. It’s home to the famous Cloudbreak and Restaurants reef breaks. These breaks get very crowded. A better bet is the ‘Coral Coast’ which covers the southwest coast of Viti Levu, the main island. The hundreds of kilometers of reef breaks here mean you’re bound to find a wave to yourself!
Most island resorts have paddle boards and kayaks for hire, as well as organizing typical beach activities such as volleyball.
A great thing to do is to take part in the local craft lessons and learn how to make hats, crowns and baskets from palm fronds.
Where to Stay
The islands are pretty small. In the case of the Yasawas, if not small, then remote. Often there are only one or two resorts per island. I’d recommend you do your research.
Some islands cater to the party crowd, others to families or couples. Some resorts are luxury and others are budget. A good number of islands cater to everybody. They have three or four different accommodation options to suit every price range. Some offer more secluded accommodation or something nearer the bar.
Our favorite was Bounty Island in the Mamanucas. It was fairly basic, but we liked that! We had a beach hut to ourselves a stone throw away from the ocean. Every day we were able to find our own stretch of sand and often wouldn’t see another person all day! Perfect for that castaway, desert island experience.
Where and What to Eat
Here’s the (slight) catch to these beautiful islands: you’re a captive audience when it comes to food. All islands run a compulsory ‘all inclusive’ policy when it comes to food. This cost is often charged on top of your accommodation fee. When booking be sure to ask whether your price includes the ‘Resort Tax’ (a.k.a. your food charge) or not. It’s great value for money at around $30 per day for 3 beautiful meals, but it can be a bit of a shock to the system if you hadn’t budgeted to pay that on arrival.
Bear in mind that for each meal, you’ll probably only be presented with two or three options. If you’re a really fussy eater, an island hopping adventure may not be for you. However, if you love to try new things, and you’re a fan of fish, curries, and fruit (though not all together!) then you’ll be fine.
One place that has to be mentioned is a trip to ‘Cloud 9’ – it’s heaven! Cloud 9 is a floating 2-storey platform bar/restaurant/relaxation-station moored close to the Malolo Barrier Reef. There’s no better way to enjoy a cocktail (or two!) than under a cloudless sky with a 360° view of turquoise waters.
What makes Fiji such a great place? The People! Fijians are such a warm, welcoming and friendly people. They go out their way to make sure your visit to their country is special and memorable. From the very first cry of ‘Bula’ (welcome) you feel like one of the family. Trust me, you’ll be sad to say ‘Moce’ (goodbye) to these beautiful islands, but you’ll definitely say ‘Vinaka’ (thank you) for one of the best trips of your life!
How to #GetOutThere
First stop is to get to Viti Levu, the largest island. The international airport is located in Nadi on the west coast. From here take a 15-minute taxi or bus ride to Port Denarau, where you can pick up a boat out to the islands.
Depending on your budget (and any time constraints like flight arrival times) you have a few options:
This bright yellow catamaran offers the best value for money if you intend to island hop your way through the Mamanucas and Yasawas. The downside is the restricted schedule – one outward/northwest-bound and one inward/southeast-bound voyage per day.
Your hotel should be able to arrange a 10-20 seater boat to cater for passengers arriving on similarly timed flights heading to nearby islands. You may have to wait for an hour or two at the marina, but this gives you a great chance to try the local beer (I recommend ‘Vonu’, which means ‘turtle’ in the local dialect).
Arrive in style by booking a flight with Turtle Airways (sensing a theme yet?!). This way you dictate the schedule, and you get some amazing views of the coral reefs on your way to your chosen island. Landing on water is quite a thrill, but unsurprisingly, this is the most expensive travel option.
Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?
Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?
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