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Taveuni: the Garden Island of Fiji
Posted 22 Sep 2014

Home to some of Fiji’s most precious indigenous flora and fauna, such as the Tavneui fruit bat and the rare Fiji Banded Iguana, the ancient island of Taveuni is the third largest island in the Fiji archipelago and a great place for a memorable Fiji holiday.

My first trip to Taveuni,  began with my first flight on a DH6 Twin Otter aircraft. One of the flagship propeller planes for  Fiji Airways’ domestic subsidiary, Fiji Link. As a Fijian, it’s sad to say that I have found it quite common for locals to not venture out to other islands, missing out on the entirety of the beauty that is in their own backyard.

As we passed over the island, I could see why Taveuni is known as the Garden Island of Fiji. The entire surface of the island is covered with a lush tropical carpet of green rainforest and swaying palm trees. Paradise, to be sure.  The view from above of the lavish greenery of the mountains against the deep blues and greens of the ocean and lagoons left me in awe-inspiring wonder.

Taveuni

Landing at Matei airport was a treat and something that was a topic of discussion for my Australian and New Zealand friends. They were in Fiji for a short business-meets-pleasure trip. The small, laid-back wooden building that made up the airport was a novel sight for those that were used to seeing modern-day airports getting bigger and looking like they belonged in a science fiction movie.

However, the mod-cons were soon laid on thick and heavy when we arrived at the award-winning Taveuni Island Resort & Spa. The stunning resort was where we would be resting our head for the duration of our Fijian vacation. Needless to say, our stay was very relaxing, made that much more memorable by the friendly resort staff, mainly tended by wonderful owners, the Cammick family, and a few locals from Taveuni who have become an extended family to the resort owners.

The mouth-watering food is sourced as much from the resort garden as possible. Seafood, needless to say is fresh out of the ocean.

Activities on Taveuni

Hopping on to a 4WD we headed off to explore the major landmarks on Taveuni. These included the breathtaking Tavoro Waterfalls at the Bouma National Heritage Park, Wairiki Catholic Church, the old international dateline, and the natural waterslides.

Tavoro Waterfalls

There is a FJD$10 entry fee at the Tavoro Waterfalls which goes to the local community and is well worth the price. A short walk through the jungle soon opened up to the stunning falls. They were a series of three waterfalls that cascade from the top of the crater-lake high up in the mountains. We continued our trek to the 24 metre high Lower Bouma Falls. Here an inviting fresh water pool became a refreshing sanctuary from the balmy heat of the afternoon.  

Bouma

Holy Cross Catholic Church

Another short drive and we were at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Wairiki, which was the first Catholic Mission on the island, built in 1907 by French Missionaries. The church is an imposing stone structure built in the Roman style with stained-glass windows, one of which still has the scrawling “Lyon 1892.”

As is customary and a sign of respect for places of reverence, seating is on woven floor mats.
A cat nap in the 4WD brings us to the old international dateline or 180 degree Meridian. Everyone takes turns getting pictures taken jumping into “yesterday”.

Taveuni Natural Waterslides

The next activity on our nature excursion is way off the beaten tourist track. We spent the morning climbing high into the mountains, clinging onto tree branches and reeds as we traversed narrow mud trails until we finally arriving at the natural waterslides. Unfortunately this activity looked a bit too ‘adrenaline junky’ for most of the group and only three of seven ended up taking the plunge. What an exhilarating rush. Definitely worth the climb.

The underwater attractions of Taveuni are one of its greatest assets, but because of our very short trip, we had to stick to the terrestrial displays. However, there are many places where you can scuba dive, surf and snorkel on the island.

Taveuni, known in Fiji as the Garden Island, was an exciting mix of luxury, adventure, culture and intrepid travelling; another trip down is definitely on the list and an absolute must visit on your Fiji vacation plans.

Kids

Ask your accommodation hosts to arrange a tour for you so that you can see the above attractions.

Getting there and away

- Fly to Taveuni with Fiji Airways from Nadi or Suva. Once you have arrived, the resort is a short drive from Matei airport.

Organise your Taveuni Island Holiday

Flights to Taveuni – Fiji Airways operates flights to Taveuni regularly from many domestic ports including flights from Nadi to Taveuni and flights from Suva to Taveuni.   

- Flights to Suva - Fiji Airways operates flights to Suva regularly from many domestic and international ports including flights from Nadi to Suvaflights from Sydney to Suva and flights from Auckland to Suva

- Flights to Nadi -  Fiji Airways operates flights to Nadi daily from many international ports including flights from Sydney to Nadi,flights from Auckland to Nadiflights from Los Angeles to Nadi and flights from Hong Kong to Nadi.

By Jessan Doton continue reading
Tagged: Adventure, Culture, Relaxation
Your dream wedding on Fiji's Mana Island
Posted 19 Sep 2014

Imagine yourself in a flowing white dress, frangipani in your hair, sandals on your feet and sunshine second only to the beaming smiles of your friends and family, as you walk hand in hand along a white sandy beach with your soon to be partner for life.

Have you dreamed of marrying your loved one on a gorgeous remote island in the South Pacific’s Fiji?

Then look no further then Mana Island. It’s nature in its most elegant form with a clear crystal sea spreading for miles around the green island fringed by white sandy beaches and coconut palms.

It’s the Fiji you’ve always read about and an exquisite backdrop for any wedding or honeymoon.

ManaIsland

Mana Island Resort

Mana Island Resort is placed on the picturesque Mana Island and has all the facilities needed to cater to your special day. From romantic honeymoon and beachfront bures (Fijian for a wood and straw hut) to a luxurious spa offering treatments that will get you ready for your special day.  The staff are extremely hospitable and will go out of their way to make sure that you have everything that you need.

The resort and island provides a beautiful backdrop for your wedding photos; with endless opportunities for priceless photos. Picture the moments being captured as you hold your loved one on the beach at sunset with canoes rocking in the background or as you make your way down the long jetty that casually runs across the beach and into the mesmerizing unspoiled water.

ManaIsland-Restaurant

On Mana Island, the choice is yours between a chapel or beachside wedding.

The seaside chapel sophisticatedly blends traditional and contemporary architecture and sits by a stunning tropical garden providing the perfect intimate setting for those looking to wed.

ManaIsland-Chapel

For those whose hearts lie by the ocean, a beachside wedding provides a popular option. With the sounds of crashing waves and the fragrant smell of the sea, you’ll be sure to have a wedding showcasing Fiji’s remarkable beauty.

ManaIsland-Wedding
 
Whatever option you choose you’ll be sure to have a wedding that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. 

Getting there and away

You can fly to Nadi with Fiji Airways. From Nadi Airport, take a 20 minute drive to Port Denarau where catamarans depart three times daily. Alternatively, you can choose to charter a 15 minute seaplane or helicopter flight.

Organise your Fiji Wedding

Flights to Nadi -  Fiji Airways operates flights to Nadi daily from many international ports including flights from Sydney to Nadi,flights from Auckland to Nadiflights from Los Angeles to Nadi and flights from Hong Kong to Nadi.

By Naziah Ali continue reading
Tagged: Romance, Wedding
Fiji Viti Levu: A Fresh Food Safari
Posted 16 Sep 2014

Sitting in the shade of a roadside stall, dribbling sticky green coconut water down your neck and arm in a hurry to get to the sweet jelly flesh – how much better can it be?

Maybe sitting in the warm Pacific sucking on a mango, but it isn’t yet mango season.

Mangoes

Whatever the season, taking your own food safari around Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, is an utterly splendid way to see Fiji’s famous scenic spots, while sampling the gastronomic delights of Fiji’s largest island.

Your Viti Levu food itinerary

Set aside a day, rent a car and start your food safari trip from Fiji’s capital city, Suva.

Suva

Suva is a culinary hotspot with fresh local produce and restaurants from all over the world to choose from. Highly recommended is the Suva market on Saturday morning which is filled with fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood. You might like to make like a local and indulge in some Chinese food at one of Suva’s most popular spots Joji’s restaurant.
Once ready, take King’s Road, located in the south east of Viti Levu towards Nadi,

Roadside (Kings Road)

Majority of the ride will see you passing roadside stalls, manned by smiling Fijian faces and sporting root crops, an array of fresh seasonal produce and if you’re lucky, some fresh seafood. Pull over and ask one of the friendly stallholders what the prices are. Produce is direct from plantations so it is fresh and free from many chemicals found in supermarket produce. If you choose to buy something, you’ll also be supporting one of the many local villages.

Veggies

Nadi

Rounding the opposite end of the island, Nadi town is a popular tourist stop and has several more conventional restaurants if you fancy a sit-down meal. Try Tu’s place where they are well known for their fresh fish and chips.

Sigatoka

An hour out of Nadi, the Sigatoka market is a compulsory stop. Sigatoka Valley, also known as the “Salad Bowl of Fiji” is colourful, both in the stalls and on your taste buds. Farmers travel long roads from the interior of the valley to sell their produce in a newly renovated market right next to the Sigatoka bus stand.

SigatokaMarket

Coral Coast

Our final request is that, en route back to Suva; you call into the Eco Cafe situated on the Coral Coast and sample their wood-fire pizzas. You can also call ahead to request their tiramisu, made by the sun-kissed hands of owner Degei and his Italian wife, Fabi.

By now you can carry on home to Suva with tummies and shopping bags full of food and Fijian stories gathered along your drive. These are only some of the amazing stops around Viti Levu but you hardly need an elaborate strategy to find fresh and delicious food in Fiji.

Getting there and Away

- Fly to Suva with Fiji Airways, hire a car and then take a short drive from Nausori Airport to Suva city centre. From there make your way to Nadi, then Sigatoka and the back to Suva. 
- Alternatively, fly to Nadi with Fiji Airways hire a car and then take a short drive from Nadi Airport to Nadi town. From there make your way to Sigatoka, then Suva and then back to Nadi.

Organise your Fiji Food Holiday

Flights to Suva - Fiji Airways operates flights to Suva regularly from many domestic and international ports including flights from Nadi to Suvaflights from Sydney to Suva and flights from Auckland to Suva

- Flights to Nadi -  Fiji Airways operates flights to Nadi daily from many international ports including flights from Sydney to Nadi,flights from Auckland to Nadiflights from Los Angeles to Nadi and flights from Hong Kong to Nadi.

By Naziah Ali continue reading
Tagged: Activities, Culture, Leisure
5 activities to see and do on Samoa's Upolu Island
Posted 12 Sep 2014

Last month, the world’s attention turned to the Pacific Island nation of Samoa when it hosted the third UN International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia on the main island of Upolu.

The Conference addressed the sustainable development challenges that small island countries face and this year the theme was focussed around developing enduring partnerships between small island states – something Samoa have been championing for some time.

First time visitors to Samoa’s capital, Apia, may not have known about the natural and cultural wonders of the island nation. Indeed, the Samoan people take pride in themselves and their living culture. Their capital is a true reflection of that - a vibrant, sophisticated, modern Pacific city with a great dining, arts and shopping scene - and clean to boot. In the years to come, it would be wonderful to see Apia and Samoa internationally recognised as an arts and culture hub for the Pacific.

For travellers thinking about flying to Samoa, we’ve put together an insider travel guide to some of the ‘must see’ activities and attractions in Apia and the island of Upolu.

To Sua Trench

Pictures alone do not do the To Sua Trench at Lotofaga Village justice. You’ve got to see it in person to get a sense of the beauty and scale of this unusual natural attraction. Essentially the Trench is a ginormous, garden- set waterhole that’s accessible only by a long ladder.

The more adventurous and advanced swimmers cum divers can access the sea through an underwater lava tube. Lush gardens, dramatic cliffs, striking panoramic views and a number of open-air fale (beach hut) means you can easily spend the whole day here.

DIRECTIONS: Take the Cross Island Rd and turn left at Siumu and head over to Lotofaga. Alternatively, take the Main East Coast Rd and continue cross island on the Le Mafa Pass to Lotofaga. Look out for signage.

Sua

Savaia Marine Reserve

One of Samoa’s premier snorkelling and diving regions, the Savaia Marine Reserve is a testament to what good conservation can do to protect a fragile ecosystem. The reserve was set up after a severe cyclone battered the coast in the early 1990s and is structured to improve the health of the coastal and marine environment as well as protect the region from future cyclone storms, land-based pollution and unsustainable fishing practices.
Visitors are welcome to swim and check out giant clams and other colourful marine life in a beautiful village setting at the Savaia Marine Biodiversity Conservation Reserve on the picturesque south coast of Upolu.

DIRECTIONS: Take the main South Coast Rd and turn off at Savaia toward the south western region of Upolu, along Lefaga Bay. The region has a number of reasonably priced village homestays.

Samoa

A Touch of Samoa Spa

As a self-confessed spa junkie who’s docked his fair share of massages over the years, the two- hour treatment (a foot massage followed by a full body massage) was one of the best I’ve received to date. I found the Samoan <i>fofo</i> differed a great deal from Fijian <i>bobo</i> and the ubiquitous Swedish massage techniques that I was more familiar with. Expect deep tissue type work with flowing, gliding movements and a fair bit of full body stretching. Fofo has roots in traditional Samoan healing.

The Spa is located on Main Beach Road, Matautu-Tai and is open Mon to Sat - 09:00 to 19:00 and Sunday 11:00 to 19:00.


SamoaBeach
 

Manono Island

Experience traditional island life on peaceful Manono, located 3.5 km off the western end of Upolu. A steady paced walk along the coastal track that connects the island’s four main villages lasts two hours unless you stop for a dip in warm turquoise ocean waters or chat with the friendly locals along the way. Manono Island also has a number of archaeological sites such as the Grave of 99 Stones, which marks the resting place of the high chief Vaovasa. Each stone represents one of his wives. A trek to the top of Mount Tulimanuiva in the middle of the island will reveal another site, the Ancient Star Mound.

DIRECTIONS: Head west past the Faleolo International Airport to Le Vasa Resort at Cape Fatuosofia. Look out for the Manono uta wharf past the resort. Catch a ride on any of the small boats heading to the island. There are a few homestays on the isle.

Piula Cave Pools

Located under a historic Methodist Church built during the German colonial time, the Piula Cave Pools are fed by pristine underground waters running from a deep inland source. Splashing into to cool waters is a must do for any visitor. The site is run by the Methodist Theological College and you can stay at a traditional fale and soak up the sun.

DIRECTIONS: Take the Main East Coast Road to Lufilufi. Entry to the Piula Cave Pools cost SAT5 for adults and SAT3 for children under 13 years of age.

PiulaCave

Getting there and away

Fiji Airways flies direct to Apia from Fiji regularly.

Organise your Samoa holiday

Flights to Samoa -  Fiji Airways operates flights to Samoa regularly from many international ports including flights from Nadi to Samoa, flights from Suva to Samoa, flights from Los Angeles to Samoa, flights from Honolulu to Samoa and flights from Hong Kong to Samoa.

 

By RAJAN SAMI continue reading
Tagged: Adventure, Family, Relaxation, Surf and Dive
What to do in Sydney
Posted 11 Sep 2014

Australia’s largest city has an abundance of sights and suburbs for you to see. Handpicked are some of my favourites below.

Sydney01

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

Your first stop should be Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Set on 30 hectares on the edge of Sydney Harbour, the gardens have several themed areas from rare and threatened plants, to a tropical garden and a romantic rose garden. Entry is free and, if the weather is clear, snap a sensational selfie with the Sydney Harbour as the backdrop from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

Simple strolling is also rewarding in Sydney, as it’s peppered with monuments and reflected on the stunning waterfront. You can walk from the Royal Botanic Gardens to the Sydney Opera House which gives you a perfect view of the Harbour Bridge, against the Sydney skyline.

ArtGallery

The Art Gallery of New South Wales

If you’re interested in art then the Art Gallery of New South Wales boasts five levels of Australian, Aboriginal, European, Asian and contemporary art that won’t cost you a cent. It’s only a stroll over from the Botanical Gardens, overlooking the Harbour.

Cockatoo Island

Leaving the shores is also an option, via a 10-minute (and under 10 dollar) ferry ride from Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island (which is situated in the middle of Sydney Harbour). The heritage-listed island and its buildings are steeped in history. Once a prison and later a shipyard, Cockatoo Island currently offers ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping if you’re enticed to stay the night (and have some extra cash to burn).

Sydney

Newtown

A popular suburb to visit in Sydney’s inner west is Newtown. The quirky, bohemian inner city suburb is only a few train stops from the city centre. Unlike its name suggests, Newtown recalls a bygone era with its quaint heritage listed buildings and vintage store fronts. 

Newtown’s King Street, dubbed ‘Eat Street’, sports numerous cafes and restaurants from various cultures. Any one of these makes the perfect spot to sit down, indulge in a bite and perfect the completely costless sport of people-watching.

Getting around Sydney’s CBD for free

The 555 shuttle bus is a free ride around town for keen sightseers. The bus runs every 10 minutes and stops at a number of destinations between Sydney’s main train station – Central and Circular Quay. It operates from 9am to 6pm.

Getting there and away

Fiji Airways flies direct to Sydney from Fiji daily. Sydney’s CBD is located approximately 30 minutes from Sydney’s International Airport. Newtown is located 15 minutes from Sydney’s CBD and 15 minutes from Sydney’s International Airport.

Organise your Sydney Holiday

Flights to Sydney -  Fiji Airways operates flights to Sydney daily from many international ports including flights from Nadi to Sydney, flights from Los Angeles to Sydney, flights from Honolulu to Sydney and flights from Hong Kong to Sydney.

By Naziah Ali continue reading
Tagged: Activities, Leisure
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