I never wanted to go to Fiji. I’m being serious. Of course it sounds dreamy, but it also sounds really far away. I filed Fiji away as a destination I would experience in travel magazines and Instagram photos and put it out of my mind. With so many places to travel, I could enjoy beaches closer to home.
Enter Beau into the picture. While planning our honeymoon he happened to read Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life and became obsessed with getting us to Fiji. And not just to the main island, but to the remote island chain of the Yasawa Islands.
At first I thought he was speaking hypothetically. As in, “oh wow, I’d love to see where this book is based one day”. In this expression, “one day” means “probably never”.
And then he booked it.
I will be forever grateful he made that call. Hawaii is amazing, Greece is stunning, but Fiji is simply phenomenal. No other word is sufficient. I thought I’d seen paradise before. And then I saw the Yasawa Islands.
After an 8 hour flight from Singapore and a 3 hour ferry ride to our island from the big island, I was ready for pool time and an umbrella drink. The exhaustion from our travel day and my ferry seasickness quickly faded as I eased into Fiji time.
During our seven day stay we made friends with many of the Fijians working at our resort. Most of them worked four weeks straight and stayed onsite before traveling home for a week off. They had children, grandchildren, siblings, and spouses eagerly awaiting their return. It brought new perspective to the long-distance relationship struggles I felt over the past year and a half while Beau remained in London. I can’t imagine living in that situation perpetually. What a luxury to be able to see my family and husband multiple times a month. I feel spoiled now to see Beau daily. Although the Fijians we met at the resort missed their families, this was also their normal. They continually mentioned their gratitude for being employed. My guilt over taking three months off work was at an all-time high.
One of my favorite days during our week was a visit to nearby Soso village. The village welcomes tourists a few times a week to showcase their traditional Fijian village and traditions. We were able to meet the local village chief and tour the school. The kids went crazy over Beau, and vice versa. I don’t know who had more fun.
Fijians are hardworking people who prioritize their family and community above all else. Their communal lifestyle is humbling and they are happy with so little in comparison to our consumerism culture. As with every new place I visit, I questioned my current worldview after exposure to Fijian life.
Fiji will be tough to beat on the paradise-meter. I spent most days lazing by the pool or beach (or both), standup paddle boarding and kayaking, and snorkeling in crystal blue waters with my fish posse. Yet my favorite memories will be our conversations with our Fijian friends and the local village visit. Fiji is phenomenal as a place, and made even more so by its people.