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A Family Finds Nature's Paradise in Fiji

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By Margot Black

Floating in the heart of the South Pacific, Fiji has cultivated its well-earned reputation as a slice of heaven. With a tapestry woven from its rich history and vibrant culture, Fiji epitomizes the kind of place from which postcards come, promising families an escape to its welcoming waters and beautiful beaches where adventure intertwines with tranquility.

The Fijian archipelago is made up of about 333 islands. Two of those islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, are home to 87% of the population, and only 106 of the others are considered inhabited. Around 90% of the territory is water, and scuba divers and snorkelers have nicknamed Fiji the "soft coral capital of the world" because it encompasses more than 1,500 square miles of brilliantly colored reef gardens.

Fiji only gained independence from Britain in 1970, and English is spoken everywhere. Fijians are often called "the happiest people in the world." Singing and dancing are a part of their culture, and we were even serenaded at the airport upon arrival.

We chose Fiji because we wanted a relaxing beach break, lazy lounging in beautiful hotels and lots of water activities. And we weren't the only ones. It seemed the entire flight on the way over was filled with vacation anticipation. Fiji is a popular destination, so hotels, flights and activities fill up fast in peak seasons. Planning is best done months in advance.

We chose our first hotel, the Sheraton Denarau, because it was centrally located and a quick jaunt from the airport. We could happily have just dropped ourselves here for the week and been content. This large hotel offers something for everyone, including kids pools and activities, golf and tennis, nannies, water sports, myriad meal options, a gym, an extensive spa and, of course, a stunning beach.

Among the highlights was a Jet Ski snorkel safari tour where vibrant coral met colorful finned ocean citizens. It was like taking a dip with Nemo and friends! This type of snorkeling is what had attracted us to Fiji. The water was clear and warm, and the fish were varied and abundant.

Evenings at the hotel were relaxed and included traditional dancers and a fire show. We planned a celebratory "We're on vacation in Fiji!" evening on the water to dance with the sunset hues of crimson and tangerine on a Captain Cook Sunset Cruise. The trip offered lovely cocktails, a buffet dinner, cultural dances and musical performances. The boat stays close to shore, so it's an easy choice for anyone who might not have a lot of ocean experience.

Our next stop was Vanua Levu Island, where on approach to land we had a bird's-eye view of this sparkling jewel in the sea. The tiny, charming airport and the island-hopping flight created a wild adventure. We cheered on our friendly female pilot and had colorful views of multiple islands from every window.

Reality was even better than dreams when we arrived at the scenic Koro Sun Resort. We chose this intimate location to experience their Edgewater Bures. Bucket-list lodging and private ocean dips at dawn created a magical atmosphere that melted stress away. We lingered in an ocean-view hammock and indulged ourselves in the natural surroundings. The staff were the friendliest, welcoming us with genuine warmth, big smiles and cheerful "Bulas!" as warm as the Fijian sun.

The activities at Koro Sun Resort are designed with families in mind. They offer kayaks and paddleboards as well as ample snorkel gear, nannies, a kids club, hiking trips to waterfalls, herbal walks, cooking classes and coconut demonstrations. There's a dive and snorkel outfit with boats leaving three times a day to the nearby lagoons, and I relaxed amid the soothing sounds of an adjacent stream in their Rainforest Spa, set in an actual rainforest. We fed ourselves and our ever-hungry teen to great satisfaction. Dinners offered a tantalizing taste of culinary creativity in their restaurants.

Returning to Nadi on Viti Levu, the Pearl Resort charmed us with its laid-back elegance. Days here unfolded lazily, wrapped in the beauty of the sea under the shade of swaying palms. We enjoyed snorkeling, sunset cruises and hanging by the pool at this popular wedding and diving location.

The Sigatoka River Safari capped our trip. It offered an exhilarating speedboat river ride and kinship with the Bemana village where we spent an afternoon sharing kava, dining and dancing with the locals. This half-day eco-cultural adventure transported us deep into the heart and soul of Fiji and its tribes and was an engaging, entertaining and deeply insightful family travel activity. A cheeky ordainment of my husband as "chief" -- an honor bestowed upon him because he was the oldest in our group -- stitched humor into our Fiji memories. And that's still what we call him now that we're back home!

 

Fiji boasts stunning natural landscapes, turquoise waters teeming with wildlife, abundant arts and culture, and the ever-welcoming Bula spirit. This gem in the Pacific welcomed us not as visitors but as family. With every "Bula!" we felt the heartbeat of the islands, and as we bid farewell, we left a piece of our hearts.

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WHEN YOU GO

Fiji Airways: www.fijiairways.com/en-us

Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort: www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/nansi-sheraton-fiji-golf-and-beach-resort

Captain Cook Cruises: www.captaincookcruisesfiji.com

Sigatoka River Safari: www.sigatokariver.com

Koro Sun Resort: www.korosunresort.com

The Pearl Resort: www.thepearlsouthpacific.com/en

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Margot Black is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

 

 

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