The thought of visiting Fiji should make anyone feels exhilarated with all that sun, sand and sea. Blessed with 333 tropical islands and home to some of the happiest people on Earth, nothing prepared me for the charm and warmth of the Fijians, much less the gorgeous sights and sound of the truly spectacular islands located in the heart of the South Pacific.
My itineraries included islands exploration – Savusavu, South Viti Levu Island, Sigotaka and Kuata Island. In this article, I’ve put together some brilliant places you could explore for your trip to Savusavu, considered to be Fiji Islands’ best-kept secret.
Fiji Airways commenced twice weekly direct flight from Changi Airport since April 2016. You can look forward to great sunset during the flight as it cruise eastward from Singapore to the enchanting islands. The beauty of visiting Fiji Islands starts even before we reach our destination, with a gorgeous dusk over the Solomon Sea, during a ten hours direct flight to Nadi Airport, the main international airport of the Republic of Fiji.
To get Savusavu, you’ll need to take a domestic flight from Nadi to Labasa via Fiji Links, then 1.5hrs scenic land or a 20min private plane transfer completes the journey. The flight service feels like a brisk air-conditioned bus journey. It was at this flight that an aged Fijian strike up a conversation that lasted 1 hour. Fijians are friendly people as i will learn along the way.
Koro Sun Resort
My paradise for the next 2 nights was Koro Sun Resort. Life felt great as I started to get into the Fijian vibe. Savusavu is also known as the “Hidden Paradise”. The views here are breathtaking and sound of the sea calms you even in the room. The resort intentionally make WiFi available only at their bistro so that guests get to fully reconnect with themselves, not on their smartphone screen and enjoy nature.
Did you spot a white object near hammock? Since the bures in resort do not have telephone and wifi, you will have to use this coconut to request any staff service. All you need is to place the coconut at front door of the bure. Within short notice, you can expect the staff to pop by your bure.
Experiencing Fijian Culture
One thing that keeps cropping up in Fiji is Kava. The root of the Kava plant is used to produce a drink with sedative and relaxant properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia for its sedating effects. We were brought to a kava shop by Ramano , the resort guide/driver to see how kava is made. The machine was basically an electric operated pounding machine with a metal stump that pound the dried kava roots into powder. A typical packet of kava powder is about FD$10, for a simple kava presentation ceremony.
You have to try Kava drink, as it ‘brings’ people together in Fiji. It’s one of the core Fijian culture, where this drink is served during traditional ceremonies. I managed to witness this casual Kava ceremony and presentation at Koro Sun Resort after dinner, by the resort guest relations manager.
One the main things that interest me is a country cuisine and my first meal at Koro Sun Resort was a delicious healthy garden salad. The meals are prepared fresh with locally grown pesticide-free ingredients. Fijians are very particular in cultivating their produces organically.
The meal main course was Ham Quiche on Tomato Cuss. Delicious, light and healthy meal indeed.
Next came a spa treatment at the resort Rainforest’s Spa, with a signature treat – the Banana Leaf Wrap Spa. I was about to be wrapped like an Otah. Scrubbed with brown sugar, coconut oils and natural botanical herbs, I was then left alone to be “marinated” with the mixture.
The Banana Leaf Wrap Spa is formulated to rejuvenate the body after jet lag or stress, leaving us feeling balanced and renewed. I truly sunk into a deep slumber during the 1 hour spa session, lured by the natural stream soothing water lullaby, just beside the spa.
Edgewater Bure at Koro Sun Resort
Fiji seascape are simply fabulous as you will not see ocean liners on the sea horizon. This picture was shot from my personal sea front villa – called Edgewater Bure (pronounced as Boo Ray). Bure is the Fijian word for a wood-and-straw hut, sometimes similar to a cabin. In its original sense, a bure is a structure built of anything that comes to hand. The components of a bure are either stacked together, tied together by rope, or a combination of both methods. Though, the bure here are the luxury type, of course.
My luxurious Edgewater Bure suite at the resort. Superb view and well furnished room enhanced the paradise feeling.
Fijians have a great sense of humour, as this sign at the resort shows, alluding to their old days of cannibalism. The last known recorded incident of cannibalism in Fiji was in the 1860s, with the death of missionary Reverend Thomas Baker. Are you aware Fiji islands were previously known as the Cannibal Isles ?
Looking up to sky at the resort and you be greeted by tall coconut trees. You see them everywhere along the coast as well, enhancing that paradise ambience.
The sunset at Fiji are simply to die for. Serene and simply spectacular. You wish time stand still. The natural beauty of Fiji Islands is round the clock. The weather has a warm tropical climate. Normally, the best months for holidaying is late March through to early December, pertaining to weather.
These dried pandanus leaves can be commonly spotted at most villages. Pandanus leaves are hung dry first before being woven into various arts form of handicrafts. The farmers only cut off matured leaves letting the plant regrow again.
This is how pandanus leaf fan looks like. It’s comforting to know most of Fijian arts and crafts are Earth-friendly product.
Look at this beautiful lookout point at Savusavu. On a good day, you could actually see fluffy white clouds forming and moving briskly in the windy deep blue skies.
The topography of Fiji islands being relatively low, does not favour waterfalls formation. But those few that exists, are always a lovely sight. Like this at Vuadomo Village.
Mother and her kids at Vuadomo Village. They may not live on much, but I can sense their happiness. Perhaps that is the answer to a happy life ?
Fiji Coconut Festival
Enroute to the pearl farm, we were brought to Fiji World Coconut Day 2016 fair by our resort guide. Coconuts play an important role in Fiji because they are a key export earner. Not only coconut is a major export for currency, the versatile plant is very useful for daily life. It’s a symbol of Food, Shelter and Life in Fiji.
Participants at the event were friendly people indeed. They never shy from camera. One group of coconut farmers even requested a picture, where I was more than happy to oblige.
Cultured Pearl Farm at Justin Hunter Fiji Pearls
At the pearl farm, visitors are introduced to pearl farming industry at the Justin Hunter Fiji Pearls. From how pearls are cultivated and how to differentiate the grades of pearl.
We were lucky to see a couple of visiting Japanese pearl culture experts at the farm doing seeding procedure. They are sort of a “oyster doctor”, deciding the eventual type and colour of pearl after the 18 months period. The pearl technicians are from Mikimoto in Japan and are only at the farm in the months of April/May and October/November to conduct seeding work.
At the oyster larvaes holding tank, you will not be able to see the oysters larvae as their sizes are so small you need a microscope to see them clearly. The tank holds nylon nest for the larvaes to latch on and grow from there.
The snorkeling trip provided as part of the pearl farm visit was aborted due to choppy water that afternoon. So instead, we were brought snorkeling at Namena Island, which features a Giant Clams (Tridacna) farm.
It’s a rare treat to spot these clams because Tridacna gigas is considered one of the most endangered clam species in the world. This species of clam have an average lifespan in the wild of over 100 years.
Lovo – Traditional Fijian Food Preparation
I rushed back to the resort just in time for the Lovo unearthing. Lovo is a traditional form of cooking. This is the Fijian name for a feast cooked in the earth. The taste was like a BBQ, only a little more smoky and it’s an efficient way to cook large quantities of food at the same time. It was an eye-opener seeing this unearthing for the 1st time and the smell wafting from the unearthing prepares you for the dinner ahead. No appetizer needed.
You have all food items wrapped in coconut leaves, except the taro (yam). On menu at this occasion was pumpkin, taro, fish, chicken. All locally grown, produced or sourced.
The Meke – Fijian Traditional Dance
A typical night at a Fijian resort usually includes Meke dance before dinner. At Koro Sun resort, the villagers living around the resort turned out for this great session. You don’t need great sound system, just honest warm heart and great lung power.
Their great lung power worked brilliantly for this traditional style of dance. It was a surreal experience listening to the the amazing vocals from the villagers. There is nothing like seeing grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters all united in a Meke dance.
I arrived at Fiji Islands expecting sun, sand and sea. But the real gem I found was the warmth and friendliness of the Fijian people. Everyone wave to wave everyone on the road. Fijians in the village area walk everywhere they go. And I was told, when one buys a car in the village, the car belongs to everyone in the village. And when one encountered problem in the village, everyone helps out. Such is the amazing experience that sets Fiji Islands apart from many places I visited. Do check out my followed up article on the other islands on the trip.