Fun on Fiji: Beach Bliss, Dad Dancing and 101 Ways To Use a Coconut!
By Jane McLellan
Last updated: 1st September 2011
The three weeks I spent island-hopping in Fiji were some of the most content and relaxing times during my travels. Regardless of which island I was on, I had an absolutely amazing time and met some brilliant people. All the islands were stunning, with tranquil blue lagoons, white sandy beaches that stretched out into the distance, swaying palm trees and a gorgeous warm clear sea.
One of my favourite places was Robinson Crusoe Island. There was just one resort on the whole island and it was a picturesque, rustic retreat. I stayed in a large thatched bure (wood and straw hut) with about 16 other people. It was the biggest dorm I had slept in, however it was a great way to meet people and make new friends. Showering consisted of a bucket shower, which was refreshing and just added to the remote island experience.
Fijian life on islands is very relaxing. I would wake to the sound of a beating drum, and everyone would go running to the beachside and gather round for breakfast. It was an incredible, almost tribal experience and the food, cooked in a traditional Fijian loma, was delicious. If I felt energetic then I would stroll or jog around the island, which didn’t take very long, or if I wanted to take it easy, I would relax with a nice massage or chill out in a hammock, and get stuck into a good book. I wasn’t lazy all the time though, and in fact, I learnt some useful stuff… Getting right back to my roots, I learnt how to climb a coconut tree and husk their fruit, went line fishing (unfortunately only catching seaweed) and snorkelled along the coral reefs. The marine life was incredible, but I did freak out once when I saw a three-foot long sea snake. Luckily for me, it didn’t want to make friends!
Spending time with the locals was one of the highlights of the island, and it made the experience very special. They were so welcoming and always made sure we had a good time. Together we played volleyball, chatted and on one occasion even organized a beach sports day. We split into two teams and made fools of ourselves by playing various games, all of which involved a coconut. My favourite game was when we had to hold a wooden pole vertically dangling between our legs. We had to run and hover over a coconut with a hole in it – the aim was to get the pole into the hole. It was very silly but hilarious. I didn’t realise there were so many fun things you can do with a coconut!
There was some form of entertainment most nights on the beach. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was there. We would watch the talented locals perform amazing fire dances, listen to someone play a guitar, sing songs, and share our travel stories around a beach fire.
The Fiji beach parties were the best. We usually kicked it off with a delicious barbecue feast followed by some traditional Fijian dancing. I was hopeless at dancing and always have been. I have a serious lack of any rhythm or coordination! The locals would show us and then we’d have to copy, but I would generally smile and kind of throw my hands above my head, move them around a bit and hope I got away with it. We always ended up doing the Fijian Conga which involved a lot of bum slapping and you had to put your arms through each other’s legs – not the most traditional of dances, I’m sure, but it was such a laugh!
Traditional Kava (a mildly narcotic juice) ceremonies were frequent and fun activities that were held most nights. The drinking of Kava is a common ceremonial and sociable custom. We took part to welcome new guests that arrived earlier in the day. We’d sit in a circle cross-legged and take it in turns to drink Kava from a coconut shell; it looks like muddy water and tastes a bit strange but I joined in anyway. The Kava ceremonies were great because you got to meet new people pretty much every night.
The sunsets and stars at night were stunning. We would lounge around in hammocks spotting shooting stars and some crazy bats flying around, playing cards by lantern light before going to bed listening to the sound of the ocean waves as we slept. Happy times!