From Samoa it was on to Fiji. To me, Fiji and Tahiti have always seemed the very definition of paradise, so there was no question we would go to one or both. As it turns out, Tahiti is further east than we wanted to go on this South Pacific jaunt, so here we are in Fiji.
There were a couple surprises on arriving here. First – and we noticed this at the airport in Samoa – the people of Fiji are remarkably different from Samoans. The island groups aren’t that far apart; Fiji is maybe 700 miles southwest of Samoa. It turns out, though, that Samoa is part of Polynesia, a group of of over 1,000 islands in the central and southern Pacific ranging from Hawai’i down to New Zealand and way over to Easter Island, closer to Chile than Samoa.
Fiji, on the other hand, is part of Melanesia, which reaches from Fiji northwest to Papua New Guinea. As we quickly observed Melanesians are significantly darker than Polynesians, with distinct Indian and even African characteristics. I’m sure if I did a PhD in anthropology I would have more interesting things to say about the differences, but suffice it to say that the difference was pretty striking; it’s obvious that immigration patterns in the island groups were quite different. And while Fijians are certainly friendly, it’s nothing like being on Samoa.
The other surprise was that – so far, at least – Fiji isn’t as pretty as Samoa was. On ‘Upolu there was just so much color in the trees and plants. The island was just gorgeous, in a way that we haven’t seen in our admittedly brief time on Fiji. On top of that the beach at Lalomanu was better than anything we’ve seen in the first week of Fiji. I never expected to be in Fiji and pine for Samoa, but there you are. The prices in Fiji can reflect its reputation as paradise, and maybe if we’d stayed in one of those fabulous $1,200-a-night places I’d feel different about it. Don’t get me wrong: Fiji is beautiful. Maybe my expectations were just too high.
At any rate, we flew to the main island, Viti Levu and spent one night in the city of Nadi before flying on to the second biggest island, Vanua Levu. We flew into the main airport on the northwest cost of the island and were driven across the island to our (not too expensive) resort in Savusavu. While we’re not big on driving around, the drive across the island was beautiful. Then it was five days of serious relaxation. Others staying there were out doing all sorts of activities – snorkeling, scuba diving, yoga, kayaking, you name it – but we pretty much just hung out at the pool and – when the tide was in – in the ocean. The resort was big enough that one of the three pools, far distant from the others, was adult only. Very peaceful. Meals – not very good meals, I should add – were included in our package, which is just as well as we were 20 minutes or so from the nearest town. So we really didn’t have to do anything except read and rest.
From here we fly back to Nadi for one night again before getting on a boat to tour the Yasawa Islands for a week. We’re skeptical that we’ll have Internet much at all for that week so it may be a bit before I report back. And, horror of horrors, we’ll be on the boat during the second presidential debate. No idea how long we’ll be without news of how that goes, but it could be torture.