My lovely friend and old Kidspot editor, Bron from Maxabella, is sharing with us a post today on her recent family holiday to the Fiji Islands.
Deciding whether to ‘go island’ or stay on the mainland was probably our hardest decision when planning a trip to Fiji with kids.
Part of me wanted a “stranded on a deserted island” kind of holiday but the other part of me knew that I could quickly go a bit mad just staring at the coral all day.
In the end, we decided to stick to the mainland and do some day trips out to the Fiji islands. Our reasons for sticking to the shore were many and varied, but included:
Arriving in Fiji after a plane trip with three kids we were quite sure we wouldn’t fancy hopping straight on a boat, no matter the destination.
The idea of spending a night on the mainland and then heading out was appealing, but we wanted to arrive and be settled, not enjoy ourselves for a night and turn around and pack again in the morning.
As much as a ‘do nothing’ beach holiday appealed, the idea of being stuck in a resort, even a luxury one, for over a week did not.
Our choice to stay on Denarau Island was the right one for us and we really made the most of it.
Here are some of the highlights of what we got up to.
1. Resort hopping
There are lots of signs saying “hotel guests only”, but we still had a ball catching the Bula Bus around the 7 resorts it stopped at and jumping in the hotel pool.
To feel less guilty, we made sure we enjoyed morning tea or lunch or afternoon tea (and even dinner one night at the Westin) while we were there. A top tip if you’re planning a little Bula Bus pool hopping is to take your own towels to Fiji so you don’t stick out with the wrong hotel towel.
The only trouble with both of them was line-of-sight: there were a lot of crevices to lose a kid in at both of these pools so you need to be on high alert at all times.
For a ‘relax in your armchair and see the whole pool’ experience – definitely my preference when you have young kids in tow – the Hilton is far preferable.
2. Mud bathing
The Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool is a very family-bonding sort of experience.
The kids loved getting coated in the thermal mud and we parents loved the hot baths to wash it off in. It’s a very basic set up, but it’s so relaxing once you get into the hot bath that you quickly forget you’re basically swimming in a mud hole in the middle of nowhere.
We swam in the baths for a good couple of hours and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Incidentally, a visit to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant was really worth a side trip – it’s not far from the mud pool.
3. Kava drinking
You can take an organised tour to an ‘authentic Fijian village’ to participate in a kava ceremony, or you can become friends with some of the staff at your resort and be invited home to their village to meet their chief.
We managed the latter and we had an immersive afternoon buying kava at the local markets to take as a gift to the chief and then driving out to get to know the friendly people who live in the village of Nawaka, just outside of Nadi.
4. Island dreaming
We took two day trips from Denarau Marina to two very different islands.
The first was a trip out to Savala Island on the Oolala Cruise by Storck Cruises. Savala is a deserted island with just a shade structure and amenities for visitors who snorkel, paddle board, canoe and swim in the pristine waters for the day.
I opted for a massage in an open-air hut and it was such a delightful experience with the lapping of waves almost drowning out my children calling, “Mum, MUUUUM, where’s Mum?” every five minutes. Ah, kids, huh?
Though the day spent on the island was blissful, the best bit about the Oolala cruise was the trip in the boat there and back. The cruise is staffed with the chirpiest fellows you can imagine who are just fantastic with a song and their guitars.
I couldn’t imagine a nicer way to spend an afternoon than zipping along the Fijian waters belting out “Wichita Linesman” with a glass of not-too-bad wine in my hand – it’s true these guys are slightly obsessed with American country music, but you can’t have everything.
Our second island trip was with South Sea Cruises to Treasure Island.
It was a complete contrast to Savala as the ship was large and so was the island. Treasure Island resort which hosted us for the day was quite run down, but set in paradise nonetheless.
The snorkelling around the island is unbelievable and my son was very taken with the resident turtles and water trampoline. Still, I was very glad we hadn’t opted to stay here for an entire week as there just wasn’t enough to do.
5. City walking
I’m sure many people would be happy to laze at their beautiful Fijian resort for a week or more and I honestly wish I was one of them (I’m quite sure my family wishes I was too!), but I’m not.
I love to relax as much as the next person, but I’m far too curious to stay put for long. Which is why I dragged the family around the markets and streets of Nadi, meeting the locals, taking pictures and generally trying to soak up what life in Fiji is really like.
Nadi is a bustling, friendly sort of city but it would be a real eye-opener for many Aussie children and mine were no different.
We had many interesting, philosophical discussions about the nature of wealth and what it is in life that makes us truly rich people.
The kids were very quick to note how happy the Fijian kids were, even though they didn’t seem to have much.
“They’re rich with piles of friendship instead of money,” my daughter pointed out. I’d say that’s the sign of a very good holiday indeed.
Do you have any tips for travel to the Fiji Islands with kids?
About the Author:
One sunny day Maxabella chucked in her twenty-year corporate marketing career – just like that. Turned out the view from up the ladder wasn’t worth it after all. Unleashed from the shackles she delights in writing all day, every day and only wears clothing that doesn’t require ironing. Writing about fitting good parenting into a lovely life is her favourite topic, mostly because in cyberspace you cannot see eyes roll. Visit her at her blog, Maxabella Loves.