The first thing I was aware of when we arrived in Fiji was the heat. This is a hot country and they play a lot of rugby and I don’t know how they manage it.
The Fijian’s gave us a lovely greeting as we walked off the ship with a giant of a man in traditional dress (pretty much just a skirt) and gathered us together for a photo. There was a lot of sweat, grinning teeth and ‘bulas’ exchanged.
Alfie even had his photo taken with a policeman. I do wonder how he could go on a chase with what he was wearing.
The locals had set up stalls for hair-braiding, souvenirs, local art, clothing and tourism. We hadn’t booked a tour through the ship so we had to try our luck at organizing our own day’s outing. It really isn’t a problem as there is a tour desk you can visit and with that, work out where you want to go.
We chose to go to Bounty Island, named after the ship that the infamous Captain Bligh captained until he was cast into a row boat with a couple of provisions including a sextant and left in the middle of the Pacific.
The tour to Bounty Island costs FJ$149.00/adult and FJ$85.00/child. It includes transfers, a buffet lunch and snorkelling gear. We were to travel to Bounty Island on the Exitor, a brightly-coloured speed boat that seats around 50 passengers. As we walked towards the Excitor, the staff greeted us with traditional Fijian singing. I’m convinced there isn’t a South-Pacific Islander born tone-deaf.
We were handed bottles of very chilled water that we were very grateful for (did I mention it’s hot?) and at 45 knots we certainly had to hang on to our hats as we almost flew across the water. It only took around 20-minutes to travel to Bounty Island. When we arrived the staff on Bounty Island were there to greet us with another singing welcome. As well as not being tone-deaf, I think every Fijian owns a guitar.
Bounty Island is an island providing budget accommodation. It’s very rustic and basic with some bures but also dormitory rooms. There’s a small freshwater fiberglass swimming pool that seems to have dipped on one side causing it to be on a slight lean but don’t let that bother you.
But we weren’t there to swim in the fibreglass pool, we were there to snorkel so our guide, Mike, handed us our gear and we headed down to the water’s edge. You definitely need tough feet as the crushed coral underfoot can be quite painful.
The water was very clear and extremely warm. It was lukewarm rather than cold and blue rather than green which is how it is in Sydney. We had to follow our guide in a big group which was rather frustrating at times, as there were frequent stops to wait for others to catch up, however, being with a guide allows them to take you to the best places and they will point out things you might on your own, not see. Mike showed us clams and Nemo fish and blue starfish and sea anenomes but a highlight for us was seeing a Maori Wrasse. Such beautiful and majestic fish.
I was also impressed by Mike’s ability to hold his breath. He would disappear under the water and very calmly, like he was in no rush at all, make his way to the seabed where he would often disappear under a rock of coral only to emerge on the other side of it, saying there was a tunnel. He would be under the water for around a minute then surface not even gasping for air.
While the coral had beautiful formations it wasn’t the prettiest coral I’ve seen, especially as large sections of it were quite brown. However, the range and colour and shape and size of the fish were incredible and with the glorious weather and warm water, a delightful snorkelling experience.
Back on land we ordered drinks from the bar and lay on the sun lounges soaking up the blue, blue, blue view. A wooden drum was pounded on to let us know that lunch was ready. The buffet lunch was set up in a hut with tables and chairs set on the sand. Treasure Island is nearby and some of the kitchen staff had come across to prepare the meal. There were bread rolls, coleslaw, a chickpea salad, a couscous salad, a noodle salad, roasted chicken and bar-be-cued steak. They’re not going to win any awards for cuisine but it was perfectly adequate and no one went hungry and yes, there was more singing.
After lunch we snorkelled some more, then had a cocktail from the bar and then it was back onto the Exitor for some farewell singing and the speedy journey back to Lautoka. Bounty Island is well worth a visit for a day trip, or if you’re looking for budget accommodation in a tropical paradise, this could well be your answer.
When we were back on the wharf we saw a business called V8 Trike Tours that’s Kiwi owned using Kiwi designed and engineered V8 trikes. They say it’s the ultimate in 3-wheel luxury. We didn’t have time to go on any of their listed tours but they did say they could take us into town for FJ$10.00/person.
Carl wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to that and now has engine-envy as his Mustang has a 289ci Ford engine and this motorbike has a 350ci Chevy engine. We put on our helmets and off we went and we certainly did as we seemed to be travelling at rocket-launch speeds and so I was hanging on for dear life especially when I saw the odometer reach 110kms/hr (70 miles/hr).
It was thrilling.
The driver dropped us outside the one and one shop that was open, a department store owned by Indians with Fijians wearing traditional costume greeting you at the entrance.
We needed clothes as the ship was having a ‘tropical’ night. I bought Alfie a Hawaiian shirt (Fijian), Miss Arabella and I bought frangipanis for our hair but Carl went all out and bought not only a loud Hawaiian shirt but a zulu.
A zulu is the traditional dress of the Fijian men. It looks like a skirt but don’t ever call it that! It’s a zulu and it has lots of pockets and Carl said that in this oppressive heat it was very cooling to wear.
Off we went to the ship’s ‘tropical dinner’ and yes, Carl was the only one in a zulu.
Love, love, love Fiji.
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