Our family vacation to Tavarua Island in Fiji was a very special experience for all of us. I plan to break our pictures into topics and make a few posts about our trip. Also on the island with us was professional photographer Scott Winer. I will use some of his photos as well, and will include a photo credit so that you can tell which are ours and which are his.
As many of you know, I spent most of my growing-up years in Hawaii and it is a place that I still feel comfortable returning to, even though I no longer call it home. I imagine that Fiji today might be what Hawaii was like in the 1940s. While I was there, I noticed and appreciated the things that are unique about this wonderful country and its people.
Before the photos, I’ll give you a little background. Fiji is a Melanesian island nation made up of over 300 volcanic islands and islets in the South Pacific Ocean. Native Fijians make up more than half of the total population of 850,000 people, with Indo-Fijians making up about 38%. I noticed this on the ride from the airport to the landing where the boat picked us up to take us to Tavarua. All along the roads and countryside most of the people that I saw were Indian. Our driver explained that he was Hindu, and farm after farm that we passed was occupied by Indian families. Not knowing the history of Fiji, I was not expecting to see such a large population of Indians. I learned while at Tavarua that the British colonials brought the Indians to Fiji in the 19th century to work in the cane fields. Now, the Fijians own all of the land, and the Indians own most of the businesses. The complex relationship between the Fijians and Indo-Fijians has defined the political scene in Fiji since the British granted Fiji independence in 1970.
Tourism and sugar exports make up a large part of the Fijian economy. Perhaps we were not in a popular tourist area, but I didn’t see many tourists at all. The town of Nadi was full of small shops and bustling with activity. Still, most people that I saw were locals.
Upon arriving at the boat landing we were greeted by some beautiful Fijian children from the village of Nabila. They were sweet and friendly and eager to meet the girls.
A short 10 minute boat ride across the crystal blue water got us to Tavarua where we were greeted by the staff singing a song of welcome.
For the next week these boats and our own paddling power would be our main means of transportation.
The ocean in Fiji is beautiful beyond words. Clear, vibrant blue, and almost as warm as a bathtub but cool enough to feel refreshing between the hours of 12-3 pm when the temperatures and humidity in Fiji soar. The girls and I spent many hours snorkeling and taking in all of the amazing sea creatures. On our first day there we saw a lion fish which did not go over well, with Charlotte in particular. The swim team skills really showed as the kids put some oomph behind their strokes and made it back to the beach in no time. I stayed still and watched it anchor itself to some seaweed. It was interesting to me that it did not swim away. I guess it knew who had the upper hand.
One of my favorite shots by Scott Winer is this one showing the flower delivery. A significant part of the staff’s work day is spent ferrying supplies from the main island of Viti Levu to the kitchen and other working parts of Tavarua.
I definitely felt that the island had its own special magic. It is the kind of place where you can truly relax, except when you are a mom who can’t find your youngest child for two hours. An eight year old can get in a lot of trouble in a short amount of time. In this case, she was making herself at home with the staff at Fiji Camp, doing whatever kids do on vacation on a tropical island. But views like this helped me get over the worry.
I also did not look at my phone one time while we were there, and I only used my iPad to read books. A serious accomplishment for me! It was really refreshing to “unplug”.
If a tropical locale with friendly people, great food and amazing (uncrowded) surf sounds like something you would like to experience, I would highly recommend Tavarua. Even if you don’t surf there are so many things to do. The pool is beautiful and beachfront with comfortable chairs and reading areas. The snorkeling is unlike anything I have experienced ever before, and the shell-hunting scene is great. Add in fishing and stand-up paddling and how can you go wrong? We can’t wait to go back…for two weeks next time.