Come with us on an armchair ride to to Fiji – a great holiday destination especially for Australians and New Zealanders. It’s also not too difficult to get to for those from USA and Canada. In March, we flew there from Sydney to Nadi on Air Pacific. Our first few days were spent enjoying time unwinding and relaxing at the Sheraton Hotel / Resort at Denarau, close to Nadi.
The Sheraton is a lovely resort spread out across many acres of gardens and lawns.
All guests here can use the pools and restaurants of three adjoining hotels, The Sheraton, Sheraton Villas (above) and the Westin.
A lily pond separates the Sheraton from the Sheraton Villas.
And of course, what would a lily pond be without waterlilies!
It’s a cash free environment across all three resorts, all charges being made back to your room. Breakfast is included with a wonderful choice of foods on offer. Our room was one of the furthest from the dining room so we had a good walk to and from eating – and time to enjoy the gardens.
Much use is made in these gardens of the delicate spider lilies
This delightful flower was planted by our small patio.
These hotels are a great place for families to have a relaxing holiday. There’s a free kid’s club and plenty of wonderful Fijian ladies who will baby sit the littlest ones to give parents a break for an hour or two or three. Many family groups were of three generations with grandparents having time with their families in a relaxing environment. We really enjoyed seeing everyone having a good time and I didn’t see one grizzly kid the whole time we were there.
For those who want it, there’s an excellent golf course and tennis courts. A thatch covered free ‘bula bus’ does a continual loop around this area of hotels and another more conventional bus will take you, for a small fee, to Nadi shopping area. You can use your ticket to ‘hop on hop off’ all day. Yes it is hot – it’s tropical – but their are plenty of pools to cool down in.
I found that a good book to read in a cool spot in the mid day heat was a good idea! This was our small shaded patio.
There was always company around the patio from these tiny finches, not much bigger than a blade of grass.
These Fiji Parrot Finches move about quite quickly so it was a little difficult to get a sharp closeup shot, but David managed this one.
Mushrooms grew in the grass nearby. Edible? I don’t know but I don’t think so and I wouldn’t like to try.
The delightful small wedding chapel was close to our room but its not in operation at the moment.
Cyclone Evan blew away much of the thatch on the small side shade area.
Repairing rooms has been a higher priority for the management.
Whilst in Nadi, we had the opportunity to catch up with Siti, a most delightful young man who has been a part of my life for almost ten years.
It was amazing how cool Siti was whilst I sweltered in the mid day heat!
So how did this handsome young man come to be part of our lives?
In 2003, David and I visited the outer Yasawan islands in company with a group of Melbourne Rotarians. While they helped the village people on the island of Matacawa Levu to paint their church, I spent quite a bit of time in island schools and getting to know lots of the local children.
I soon came to realise that the children of these poor, far outer islands had very little chance of a good education beyond basic primary school. Most had never been to the main islands. They had never seen a car or traffic lights let alone had a secondary education. Their families survive on fishing and growing vegetables and coconuts. After discussion with the Rotary group, it was decided that we could set up an education program through Rotary to enable some of the brightest of these young people to have a secondary education on the main island. My Siti was the first of these young people and he has made the most of the opportunity that I was able to give him. He completed high school with flying colours. I then supported him through his tertiary education in IT. He’s now working in Lautoka and is a wonderful example of the power of education to change life chances. Other young students from the Yasawans have followed in his footsteps and are also gaining the benefits of an education.
Now come with me on my walks around Denarau – camera in hand of course.
In the pre-dawn, the view from the breakwater at the end of Denarau peninsular takes on a mystical aura.
There’s something very calming about the gentle ebb and flow of water on the beach in the early morning.
This beach was much wider and longer before Cyclone Evan washed much of it away in December 2012..
Here was another photographic challenge.
Not only do these crabs disappear down their holes at the slightest movement, but they are almost transparent
and their camouflage against the sand is quite extraordinary.
I just love looking for abstract patterns on the beach.
And in the early morning there are lots of interesting footprints in the sand.
This is the tropics! Sometimes a quiet walk turns into a run for cover as a rain shower descends over the scene.
This rather ghoulish photo of a wasp attacking a caterpillar has an interesting story. David and I were walking down to another resort late one afternoon when suddenly a caterpillar came swinging down to the ground on a long silken thread. Just as David drew my attention to it, this wasp wizzed in and attacked. It then proceeded to bite several holes in the poor old caterpillar in which, we guessed, to lay its eggs. Macabre!
Late in the day is a magical time here on Denarau. It’s much cooler and the sun setting over the sea is a ‘must watch’ event.
Each day the sunset scene is quite different, especially when viewed from different vantage points.
Finally the sun goes down and a tranquil air of cool and calm descends on the place. It is idyllic.
But we didn’t stay here for the whole of our time in Fiji.
The purpose of the trip was to cruise to the Yasawan and Mamanuca Islands.
We’ll start that adventure in the next episode.
All Photography © Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels