Coconut trees, white sandy beaches, twinkly, warm water, fresh seafood for lunch with colorful cocktails – the Fiji Islands is a dream for many. I was blessed to spend about two years of my life in the capital city of Suva.
The Fiji Islands is made up of 332 islands! Most of the islands are inhabited while many are made into resorts. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The capital and largest city, Suva, is on Viti Levu. While I spent most of my time there in Suva, we explored the other Islands quite frequently as well.
Now, before I get into more details, I just want to let you know that most of the pictures I will be using here is from Google 😦 while we had three cameras in Fiji, most of the pictures are all gone (long story!) and the ones I do have, I can’t use here (pre-hijab era 😛 ).
Let me start by telling you about one of the many Island cruises we went to. We went with a couple of family friends we met in Fiji. We had to drive to another city from Suva, called Nadi, to embark on the cruise ship. We rented a big bus to fit about 20 people. The ride itself was an adventure! We took pit stops to grab cocktails and snacks and to enjoy the mountainous views that came on the way.
We stayed at a resort in Nadi for three nights, went to the cruise on day 2. The island we went to is called Beach Comber – a very well known party Island among tourists. People come to dance, mingle and sip cocktails under a tropical sky. Full of a young, backpacking crowd, you can walk around this island in about 10 minutes! It’s that small. There are loads of activities you can choose from – we went snorkeling, rode a glass boat, fed fishes and then relaxed as the orange velvety sun set over the deep blue lagoon.
While most tourists spend their time in the gorgeous islands, the cities also have a rich culture to offer. I personally believe that the best way to fully get the experience is by mingling with the locals and learning about the country from those who reside there. I was lucky enough to get the full experience through school and the friends I made. My sister and I went to a school called SMC, where majority of the students were local Fijians. It was actually surprisingly easy to make friends. I think I was more social back then compared to now (yes, that’s possible!). Somehow word spread real fast and I was known as “the girl from Canada”. I think going to SMC and becoming friends with the local Fijians gave me an insight to their culture, language and way of life that I would have missed if I went to a school for expats. I have such fond memories of SMC; I will cherish them forever!
I don’t usually like stereotyping people based on their nationality. But this is from my experience of moving and living in so many places- I have found Fijians to be the most friendly, down to earth and open people when it comes to living. They will never make you feel like an outsider in their country. When they say their doors are open for you whenever you need them – they actually, literally mean it. Our neighbors were this well known political family and the way they lived their lives, with so much simplicity was refreshing to all of us. This was noticed by my parents more than me or my sister as they come from Bangladesh where politics is so dirty, you can use all the detergents in the world and not be able to see through their work. And the worst thing is how they carry themselves with pride after.
There is a diverse array of food available in Fiji. Indian and Chinese cuisine is readily available due to the large influence of those two cultures. Seafood is also a major part of their diet. A lot of their meals is coconut milk based (my mom absolutely loved it!). One of my favorite meals was one that was cooked in an underground oven, called Lovo. Chicken, fish and meat are first marinated in sauces and garlic and wrapped in foil. All the meat and vegetables are placed in a hole, with hot rocks and covered with banana leaves and cooked for 2–3 hours. It is a very healthy meal because no oil is used in cooking. The taste is very much like a smoked or BBQ style dinner.
We really enjoyed our time there. Even now, whenever all of my family gets together, we reminisce about the beautiful time we spent in the Fiji Islands. If you get the chance to go, I say do it! Spend an evening sailing in the blue lagoon, feel the sand under your feet, greet the amazing locals with Bula, enjoy a meal cooked underground and get to experience the island life fully! Lastly, be awed at the beautiful world God has created, because the more you see of His creation, the more wonder-struck you feel about Him.