One of our travel consultants, Chelsey Secker, spent a week on the dreamy islands of Fiji to find out about the ultimate resorts and activities on offer.
With warm welcomes, Polynesian dancers and mouth-watering feasts cooked in an underground hot-pit, Chelsey wrote all about her spectacular time.
Take Off, Touch Down and Transfer
Excited to approach warmer shores, at 10pm I boarded an overnight flight from Adelaide with Fiji Airways. August is one of the best times to visit Fiji; there’s very little rainfall and perfect temperatures so I was taking my trip during an absolutely ideal window.
The drop-down TV screens provided light entertainment during the fairly exhausting flight, so I would suggest planning a day to rest and recuperate upon arrival.
It was 5.30am when we landed in Nadi, and we were welcomed warmly with smiles and a shell necklace from Tourist Transport Fiji.
We had an arrival transfer to the Denarau dock where our ferry was waiting and stored our bags while we had breakfast on board. The Captain Cook Cruise Ship has definitely been in operation for quite some time. Though the simple rooms looked slightly dated and tired, the ferry did its job and we arrived on the mainland of Tokoriki in one hour. The journey was rather rocky, and I was glad that I’d taken motion sickness tablets just before I boarded.
We docked just out to sea and a smaller tender took us to shore.
Tokoriki Island accommodates just two resorts, the Sheraton Resort & Spa Tokoriki Island and the Tokoriki Island Resort, both of which are happy for guests to visit and dine with their neighbours.
I started at the Sheraton, where I was hosted to a delicious lunch of quality pesto pasta, with a menu price of $65FJD per person, which is around $40AUD. Full and content, I was ready to look around the place.
Here, we stayed in the least expensive room on offer and found that they were very nice and spacious.
The 2016 Tropical Cyclone Winston shut down the resort for 9 months, and they are still redeveloping the site and returning it to its former glory. Among their current project plans is a cultural centre, the construction of which is already underway. It will host cultural dance performance nights, hold local dinners and have local handmade textiles to buy.
Later in the evening, I took a walk via the garden route to the other resort on the island, Tokoriki Island Resort. This one really took my breath away (no wonder it’s Trip Advisor’s #1 Adults only (16+) resort in Fiji). The other guests seemed to be taking part in some very special occasions – honeymoons, weddings, anniversaries and the like – the atmosphere felt extremely decadent. The manager and his wife, originally from the Gold Coast, have been running the resort for over seven years, and they hosted me for some drinks and canapes to finish off my day.
Denarau: Culture and Local Grub
The South Sea Cruise back to Denarau was running on ‘Fiji-time’, it was 45 minutes late and took twice as long as scheduled. It was something I was beginning to get used to, preparing for this by leaving room to move in my schedule.
Here I looked at three great places to stay, the Sheraton Fiji Resort, the Sheraton Villas, and the Westin. The Sheraton Villas were absolutely perfect for families, with two or three bedroom villas sleeping up to eight people. However, the Westin was best suited for myself with the quiet setting giving off luxurious tranquillity.
Inclusive in my stay was the Sheraton Kids Club, so the adults could drop off their children and enjoy the adults only area in peace. Even if you don’t choose to stay at the Sheraton, you can use this service over the duration of your stay for $25FJD a day, or around $15AUD.
I went to the Westin for a local style meal, deliciously prepared in an underground earth oven called ‘lovo’. The meal came with a traditional performance, the Westin being the only venue on the island where you can see one. The food and entertainment package is $125FJD per person, approx. $80AUD, and well worth the expense. I was lucky to time my stay here on a Wednesday – one of only two days the cultural experience operates, with the other being Saturdays.
Sigatoka: Jet Boat Safari and Seafood On the Sand
With a good night’s sleep behind me, I departed at 6.30am on a one hour transfer to the Sigatoka River for a jet boat safari. This was the highlight of the trip for me, The River Safari ranking #1 on Trip Advisor for good reason.
Moving down the peaceful river, we stopped at a local village where our tour guide made an offering to the chief before we entered – a ritual of acceptance. The warm-natured locals welcomed us and invited us to drink some Kava with them. Kava is made from a root vegetable, and while it tasted like dirty water, it had an immense calming effect on my whole body and left my mouth tingly and slightly numb. Accepting the invitation is a sign of respect, and our guide mentioned that the children of Fiji often acquire the taste for it quite young, using it to help them sleep.
We were introduced to new food, drinks and traditional song and dance, feeling encouraged by the villagers to participate in the festivities. During the rituals demonstrated for us, and as in most aspects of Fijian life, the men led the way and the women sat behind to watch.
In the afternoon, I went to the Hilton Denarau where I would be spending my last night in Fiji and was grateful to be upgraded to a penthouse!
Looking around the 2.5km property, I found that all the rooms were extremely impressive. Every room has an ocean view, with Kids Club and a nanny service available, and outside there are buggies offering lifts from one side to the other.
For our last dinner, we ate on a private table, set up on the sand under four-poster bamboo structure which was draped in white cloth. The fresh seafood was absolutely delicious, but there were other options for those who would prefer otherwise.
Last Day on Momi Bay
I spent my last day exploring the Marriott luxury resort in Momi Bay.
True to its name this place is, hands-down, the most luxurious place that I’ve stayed at in Fiji. They were fully booked out during my stay, but I was able to get a sneak peek inside one of their overwater bungalows while it was being cleaned. I must say, it’s places like this that give Fiji its reputation of grandeur.
An overwater bungalow will cost around $1300AUD per night, but I can only imagine it would fulfil all of your greatest luxury travel fantasies. On top of that, there’s a swim-up bar, Polynesian fire shows and dancing. This is the kind of thing that you usually only see on TV, like The Bachelorette which was being filmed here during my stay. The Momi Bay Marriott have upcoming plans to build a 4,000 seat conference room, on-site chapel, and an island bar sometime in the near future, as if it wasn’t great enough already.
It seems as though fate didn’t want me to leave the sandy islands too soon, either – so my return flight was delayed by two hours. The airline staff at Fiji Airways were more than accommodating, and left my trip on a high note with a complimentary $30 food voucher to spend in-flight. I waved goodbye as the plane took-off, daydreaming about my next visit to Fiji.
Chelsey’s Top Tips for Fiji
- The River Safari was a great way to see the cultural highlights of the islands (as well as being action-packed).
- Many resorts cater for children and families, however, there are also many properties that are strictly ‘adults only’.
- Take the time to head out and explore the islands – there are many day trips available and it is nice to experience both the island stay and the mainland stay.
If you’d like to enquire about booking a Fijian getaway, or simply to find out more about Chelsey’s trip, contact Angas Travel today.