Ah, the South Pacific…conjures up images of white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, and warm blue waters. I’ve been on a few beach vacations to some great locations…Maui, Anguilla, Cancun. They were all very pretty. But nothing prepared me for our first foray into the South Pacific. After two years without a visit to the beach and 12 consecutive months without summer (we left London at the end of the northern winter and arrived in New Zealand at the start of the southern winter), we decided on Fiji as our beach vacation.
It’s funny…Fiji always seemed so exotic when living in America and Europe, but here it’s a relatively normal vacation destination. And why not? It’s only a 3.5-hour non-stop flight, with several flights every day. We left Christchurch on a chilly Saturday morning.
We stayed on the Coral Coast, the southern coast of the main island (Viti Levu). Fiji is so impossibly, stereotypically tropical, it’s almost unreal.
The water is just an amazing shade of blue and aquamarine. And because the waves break quite far from the beach, the water is very calm and crystal clear. With corals and fishes — this was something new to me. I’d never seen coral and so many fishes right by the beach. In fact, I’d never snorkeled before but it was so easy to do it here in Fiji.
I loved snorkeling. My biggest disappointment was not having an underwater housing for my camera (and I wasn’t about to splurge on a waterproof P&S from the resort shop). Saw so many fishes:
- Barberi clownfish
- Clark’s anemonefish
- Convict tang
- Picasso triggerfish (my favourite!)
- Longfin bannerfish
- Auriga and Latticed butterflyfishes
- Blue devil damselfish
- Blue sea star
- And too many types of coral to remember/identify!
However, the Medusa sea worms were a bit creepy (growing up to 4 or 5 feet in some cases). A couple of them snatched onto my legs while snorkeling. I didn’t wait to find out whether the stinging sensation was teeth or something else.
The sky was simply brilliant. Deep blue and mirrored on the water as well. Mind you, it was not sunny all the time. It was often partly cloudy in the morning and then cleared up by late morning. Out of the seven days we were there, it rained for about a day and a half — most of that was really an on-and-off light drizzle.
The one very small downside of this tropical paradise was the beach sand. It wasn’t the whitest (like in Anguilla or Cancun) and was a bit too coarse and filled with pieces of coral to be good for sand-castle building (at least for my very, very limited sand-castle building skills!).
It was more than made up for by the kayaking though. Given that the waves were a long way out, the ocean was calm enough to paddle out a long way.
We did spend some time exploring the coastline.
Then there were the sunsets. Absolutely gorgeous. Our location was perfect to catch the sun dipping behind the ridge over the water. The light and the colours were beautiful.
On some evenings were fiery, with the sky set ablaze with the setting sun.
The colours were absolutely amazing on some other evenings.
I was hoping for some dark skies to shoot some stars, but unfortunately that did not work out. Clouds usually rolled in after sunset, blotting out most of the starlight. And the upward/outward pointing floodlights from the resort did not help either.
The week went by quite quickly — too quickly in fact. But at least we left with great memories and a few pictures.