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Hanging out with Honeymooners in Fiji

November 13, 2009

  We chose Fiji as our final destination of our Great South Pacific Adventure, because it was on my Bucket List, and because it would shorten the flight home by about 4 hours.  Great Decision!!  From Christchurch, New Zealand, getting to Fiji is a journey in itself–first a flight to Auckland, NZ, and then a flight to Nadi (pronounced nan-di) on the mainland of Fiji.  From there, we helicoptered to the island of Tokoriki, a quick 15 minute flight.  There are ferries that serve the islands, but they run only twice a day, and our flight arrived after the last ferry. 

There is no check in desk at the Tokoriki Island Resort.  A staff member seats you in the patio bar,and serves you a fruity drink, while you handle the paperwork and receive a briefing on the layout and facilities of the resort.  And, before they escort you to your “bure”, staff members assemble with their musical instruments and sing a welcome greeting to you.

The Fijian people who we met are friendly, happy, and outgoing.  They introduce themselves, quickly learn your name, and joke around with you.  The women were frequently found laughing, dancing, singing, and they giggle a lot!  The Fijian word for welcome is “Bula”, and it is used as a greeting every time you meet, even passing on the sidewalk.  Tourism is the major economic driver, and the Fijians are smart and natural marketers.  Most villagers earn their living by working at the resorts.  They have a lot to market–the islands are some of the prettiest that I have ever seen.

Fiji is a group of 330 islands spread over 250,000 km of ocean.  Tokoriki Island is in the Mamanuca Islands which are famous for their spectacular islands, pristine reefs, and deserted beaches.  Northwest of Tokoriki is a small group of islands which includes Camel Island, named for its shape, and the Sacred Islands where legend says the first Fijians originally landed.

From the front of Tokoriki Island Resort you can see Monuriki Island which is where the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away” was filmed.  Monuriki is a deserted island with a beautiful sand beach.  Two endangered species make Monuriki their home:  the crested iguana, only found in Fiji, and the Hawksbill turtle. 

During our stay, the resort was filled mainly with honeymooners, which only enhanced the romantic feeling of the island.  We decided we would act like honeymooners too–drink Champagne and go to bed early! 

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Every time we visit a beach, we draw a heart in the sand, and have someone take our picture.  We have been doing this since we visited our first beach together in Naples, Florida.

We learned a few Fijian words while we were there:

  • Tokoriki:  Stay Here!
  • Sega na lega (seng-a-na-lenga):  No worries!
  • Sota tale (soh-tah-tah-lay):  See you later
  • Moce Mada:  Goodbye for now

The food at Tokoriki was excellent.  During the Melbourne Cup, we had a barbeque which included Spanish Mackerel, which became one of my favorite new foods when we had it in Port Douglas, Australia.  And I developed a new favorite, Kokoda (Ko-kun-da), a ceviche-type fish dish.  The chef gave me the recipe, which I will share with you.

 Kokoda Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg Fish Fillets
  • Half Cup Lime Juice
  • 1 Cup Coconut Cream
  • 1 Tbsp red capsicum
  • 1 Tbsp green capsicum
  • 1 Tbsp tomato
  • 1 Tbsp onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 red chili

Method:

  • Cut fish into small cubes 
  • Place fish pieces in a bowl and marinate with100ml lime juice and a little salt 
  • Store marinated fish in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (overnight is best) 
  • Wash fish and drain the water out
  • Mix with coconut cream, capsicum, tomato, onion, chili, remaining lime juice, salt and pepper
  • Garnish with capsicum strips
  • Serve chilled, immediately

The resort served it as an appetizer in a half coconut shell, which made a nice presentation.  Since I do not keep a chain saw in my kitchen to halve the coconut, I will probably serve it in a lettuce cup. 

It was hard to say goodbye to Fiji.  The ocean, the views, the natural beauty, the feel of sunshine on your skin, the pleasure of being with the Fijian people, and the joy of sharing the experience with someone you love made for a magical experience.  I had tears in my eyes as they seranaded us with the goodbye song.  Fiji was, by far, my favorite place on this great adventure.  Moce Mada, Fiji.  You never know, I may have to return to this perfect place.

   

Tips for travelers to Fiji

  • Take advantage of the extensive Duty Free shopping at the Nadi Airport before you go to your island.  Shopping on the resort islands is minimal, and you may wish to take wine or other beverages with you, as drinks are expensive on the islands.  If you are helicoptering over, be mindful of your luggage weight limit.
  • Take plenty of sunscreen. 
  •  Choose your island and resort carefully.  Some are better suited for families with children; others cater to couples and/or adult groups of friends.  Some have bigger/better beaches than others.  Some are better suited for swimming/snorkeling than others.  Make sure you get what you want.
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