Fiji Viti Levu- Mainland fun

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My last four days on Fiji was spent on the “mainland” island of Viti Levu. There were a lot of things I wanted to see and do on Viti Levu, but it is a large island, and it is not as easy to just base yourself in one area to see many different sites.

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I decided to stay on the southwestern side of Viti Levu at the Intercontinental Fiji Resort. Or I should say my travel agent recommended it, and since it sounded suitably extravagant, I figured why not? It is a very beautiful resort, though a bit more geared toward families and golfers, rather than single travelers.

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Due to a number of circumstances, I ended up not doing much of what I wanted to do while on Viti Levu (which just gives me an excuse to return). For the most part I relaxed by the pool, slept in, and some spa stuff (including an absolutely heavenly, decadent, four hand massage).

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And of course, I enjoyed a variety of beautiful sunsets (a theme of this trip). My favorite sunset was the one pictured in the title picture. That was also the night the resort hosted a fire ceremony on the beach, which was a beautiful backdrop to see the fire jugglers while the colorful sun dropped below the horizon.

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As per usual, the other sunsets were not AS spectacular, but still colorful and beautiful nonetheless.

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My last full day on Viti Levu, I had wanted to do a day long adventure on the Navala River. Unfortunately, the tour operator I hoped to use had lost the access rights to the upper Navala River, due to a land dispute with the owner. Then to compound my disappointment, my last day happened to be election day in Fiji. It was actually a pretty big deal, because this was the first democratic election in Fiji since the military coup in 2006. An interesting quirk about Fijian elections was that all eligible adults were required to vote or receive a fine. So since voting was mandatory, most tour operators were not offering any tours that day.

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However, one of them was. I decided to do a zipline/waterfall hike out in a nature reserve north of the capital city of Nadi. It was pretty fun. There were about eight ziplines, most of them on the shorter end of the runs I’ve done in the past, but they were set in a very lush forest.

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After ziplining and lunch, we headed out on a hike to a couple of waterfalls. Along the way, we passed some very beautiful rope-like tree roots, and also some small pineapple bushes.

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The waterfalls were small, but the pools were cool and refreshing and you were able to swim in them. I hadn’t realized this particular part of the trip, so I had not brought a swimsuit, but it was so warm and sunny, that my clothes dried quickly.

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All in all, I didn’t get to see as much of Viti Levu as I wished. There is a lot to see and do on the island, and when I get back to Fiji, I will definitely take more time to explore it all.

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Fiji Nacula Island- Isolated Beauty

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My second stop on my Fijian extravaganza was Nacula Island. I wanted to experience as wide of a variety the country had to offer as possible. So that meant I wanted to visit one of the islands in either the Mamanuca or Yasawa island groups. This one took some research and hard choices to make, because there is such a wealth of opportunities among these small islands. The Mamanuca Islands are much closer to the mainland of Viti Levu, and many of them can actually be visited on a day trip (and many people do). The Yasawa Islands are much more remote, and really can’t be visited on a day trip, at least not one that can make for a full day.

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After careful consideration, I chose to stay on Nacula Island. Nacula Island is actually fairly far northwest of Viti Levu. There are islands that are farther north, but don’t offer the wealth of possibilities. Nacula Island is pretty big, with a wide variety of beaches, hikes, and small villages to occupy your time. There are some nice resorts on the island, particularly the one I chose, the Blue Lagoon Resort. This resort has a wider variety of expense options, from the cheaper dorm beds, all the way up to your own beachside bure which fronts Long Beach, a long stretch of sugar white, super soft sand with easy swimming and snorkeling in warm water. In addition to what was offered on-island, the Blue Lagoon Resort also has regular trips up to Sawa-i-Lau Cave, which is this weird and beautiful limestone cave where you can swim in the sea. I really wanted to go there, so which resorts offered that trip played a great deal into my final decision on where to stay.

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There are two ways to get up to Nacula Island: sea plane or boat. I took a sea plane out to the island, but to save money I took a boat back. Knowing what I know now, I would just cough up the additional funds for a sea plane back to the mainland.

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A boat trip out or back takes about half a day (at least) at around five hours minimum. At first, the boat trip was interesting as we stopped at different islands. But after a while, the trip just became repetitive because the islands looked the same from the boat, the sea got rougher, and the boat got more crowded. I was over it by the time we rolled into Viti Levu and was kicking myself for being too cheap to get a sea plane back. A sea plane trip is only about 30 minutes as opposed to five hours and it took me right to Nacula Island and offers a beautiful view over the islands.

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I was out on Nacula Island for about five days, and that is plenty of time to relax and see a wide variety of stuff. One of those mornings was the trip out to Sawa-i-Lau Cave, which was delightful, and thankfully we were the first group to the cave, so it wasn’t that crowded. I also did some hiking (subject to the next blog post), snorkeling and just plain relaxing on the beach. I also took a group trip to one of the local villages, Nacula. It was a small village but it was interesting to see.

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We saw the island-wide school all the different villages sent their children to, that also housed a solar panel electricity set funded by the European Union.

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For a small village, there were a couple of churches: both the older Catholic Church and the newer Protestant Church.

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Nacula Island is a good place to kick back and relax and enjoy “Fiji Time.” I spent many hours doing that. My bure opened right onto the beach, and I had my own beachside chairs to relax. The beach itself was very beautiful with soft sand. The snorkeling off the beach was pretty good as well. There was a small coral reef that house a wide variety of colorful fish. It was so easy to just wade into the water at high tide and paddle around a bit looking at the fish. I also took another snorkeling trip through the resort out to another island. This part of Fiji is amazing for snorkeling. The water was warm (not hot like the Caribbean), though winter was just ending so it probably gets warmer in the summer. The water is clear and the colorful fish are plentiful. The seas up in this area are pretty calm, so it is easy to snorkel and you don’t have to fight the ocean currents. Seriously, Nacula Island looks just like you imagine a tropical paradise island could look like.

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This island is also a good place to view the sunset since the resort faces to the west. Not every night had a beautiful sunset, of course. In fact, every night looked a bit different depending on the quality of the light and the clouds. My favorite sunset was the one in the title picture. This was my second or third night on the island, since the sunsets had been pretty gray and nearly non-existent up to this point. But this night was amazing. The colors were a mixture of orange, pink and magenta, and they just got brighter as the sun dropped toward the horizon. But the best part was when the sun did drop below the horizon and the whole sky lit up for a couple minutes. It’s like the clouds had a major color explosion and filled the whole sky. It was rather awe-inspiring to behold.

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Subsequent sunsets were never quite as spectacular as that one, but they were definitely lovely to look at, with most sunsets taking on a golden yellow tone contrasted beautifully with blue sky and sea.

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Nacula Island was definitely worth my time, and I would absolutely come back on a second trip. I would just suck it up and pay for a sea plane both ways to save time. Sometimes it is worth it to spend some extra money to maximize your travel time.

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