On the waterfront Lautoka
The Tanoa Waterfront Hotel is located directly across from Lautoka's waterfront walkway - a pleasant area for a stroll.
Staff at the hotel were fairly friendly, though it did take me 2 phonecalls and an irate trip to the front desk to get my in room safe fixed.
The hotel room was basic but comfortable enough. It had a TV and tea/coffee making facilities. There was a large balcony overlooking the pool.
The best bit about the Tanoa Waterfront was its pools. It had a small rectangular pool and a large resort style pool. The large pool was excellent though a bit lacking in shade.
THe hotel had a pleasant restaurant called Fins with friendly staff. It served a variety of Fijian, Western, Indian and Chinese food. The hotel also had a bar called Sunset Bar. This was a bit disappointing as it advertised Happy Hour with a special price on its draught Fiji bitter and free savoury snacks. The bar did not have draught beer - it had a tap but no keg! The advertised price turned out to be for bottled beer. No savoury snacks were visible or offered.
I don't understand why places make special offers they don't keep. Either you don't know about the offer so it did not influence your choice in coming to the place, or you came because of the offer and leave with a bad impression because the offer did not materialize. I would not bother with this bar again.
I was selected to take the Kava in a formal ceremony.
The guest of honour is seated cross legged in front of the Kava bowl(tanoa).
The master of ceromies, acting on behalf of the guest of honour directs water to be added to the root, when satisfied that the mixture is right, the bag is strained, and then half a coconut shell is dipped into the bowl and presented to the guest of honour.
The bowl must be drained in one action.
It is drained accompanied by the clapping of hands.
We have slept through the night and day now dawns
The sun is high in the heavens
Go uproot the yaqona and bring it...
Prepare the root and proclaim it!
The acclamation rose skywards,
Reaching distant lands!
Kava (or yaqona), Fiji's national drink, has an important place in all Fijian ceremonies and is used widely as a token of goodwill and respect amongst the South Pacific people.
The beverage is prepared by straining poweder made from pounded dried roots of the kava - a plant in the pepper family - and adding water. From the tanoa - the wooden bowl - protrudes a thick rope of coconut fibre which is decorated with cowrie shells. This is pointed towards the guests of honour (in this case = us). During the ceremony nobody must cross that line. When the kava is ready, the guest of honour (David was chosen to represent us) is presented with the first bowl. It should be drained in a single draught, followed by the clapping of hands.
Kava has a slight narcotic effect on the face and lips and causes lightheadedness and a feeling of euphoria.
It is certainly an acquired taste, many people did not enjoy it. The piquid is murky, with some pulp left in it. Some people likened it to drinking mud! Personally I found it very enjoyable, and would partake at every possible opportunity!
Something that should not be missed during a visit to Fiji is participation in a Kava Ceremony, a Fijian tradition that dates back centuries. Kava is the dried root of a pepper plant, which is finely ground and disolved in water in a large bowl made of hardwood known as a tanoa. Before drinking, the grainy bits are drained out with a cloth, although this was traditionally done using vegetable fibres. The guest of honour is always the first to drink the Kava, which is handed to him from the Master of Ceremonies in a half coconut shell called a bilo. Before accepting the Kava, the guest of honour claps once and says "Bula!", and then drinks the Kava down in one. He hands the bilo back to the master of ceremonies and everybody claps again and says "Bula!" The master of ceremonies is the next person to drink, followed by everybody else in order of importance or social rank. The process is repeated until all the kava is finished. Not to finish the Kava handed to you is considered a huge insult, so if you don't want a lot, then ask for "low tide", which means you only want a small portion. Similarly, to ask for "high tide" means you'd like a larger portion! While I was in Fiji, I heard many people compare the flavour of Kava to dirty dishwater! While I consider this comparison to be slightly harsh, it certainly doesn't have a nice taste! It also leaves you're tongue feeling furry and numb. Drinking Kava is supposed to induce a state of relaxation and feelings of contentment and peacefulness, although these effects are best noticed by people who are feeling stressed, tense or anxious rather than people who are already relaxed.
The Blue Lagoon Cruise
"The Yasawa Islands"
The cruise took us around the Yasawa Group of islands which are relatively small islands somewhat to the west and north of the main islands of Fiji.
The cabins on the Blue Lagoon cruise ship were VERY small, cramped and probably at a 1-star standard or lower. My wife, my son and I were sharing a cabin. The ship has a capacity of about 40 passengers, but there were only 11 on our cruise. The captain allowed our son to move into another cabin - thank God!
I did mention that the food was excellent. Always lots of food, well prepared and presented. There goes my wife about to eat again!
We anchored at different islands each night. We could take the dinghy ashore each morning for a 6:30 am swim, which we all did on the first morning. Second morning, nobody! We all went swimming, but not that early...
The beaches were beautiful: soft, warm, white sand - and not covered with litter!
"In the Water"
We used one of these underwater cameras to snap this picture of my son feeding the fish one day. These cameras tend to work OK if the sun is bright and you're taking a picture in shallow water.
The snorkeling was marvellous. I enjoyed it here more than at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (to be fair, the weather was cloudy with scattered showers when we were at the Reef).
"In the Village"
We landed on one island and visited the Fijian village. Of course, we had to be welcomed with the Kava ceremony – "Kava" in English, "Yaqona (yann-goh-nah)" in Fijian, is a National Drink in Fiji.
Pieces of the Kava root are dried in the sun, then pounded well to make a powder, which is mixed with water, and strained through cloth. It looks like muddy water.
The Fijian ceremony uses a wooden bowl which is specially made for kava and is called a "tanoa". The drinking cup, which is half a coconut shell, is called a "bilo".
Consuming some quantity of kava causes a numbing effect on the mouth and limbs and, after more drinking, a soporific effect. In spite of kava's non-alcoholic quality, you will find that your legs won't move very well. Enjoy!
"Still in the Village"
No matter where you go, women must shop! No matter where you go, there are vendors wanting to sell them their products – at least the vendors were not at all pushy.
"Evenings on the Ship"
Each evening there was entertainment on board. While we were visiting the village there was supposed to be a performance of some dances for our entertainment, but for some reason that did not happen. So that evening a number of the villagers came out to our ship and performed for us and with us. We got a real charge out of this chap dancing with his spear – you had to be there!
All in all, we really enjoyed cruising the Yasawa islands of Fiji.
Another time I'd love to go to an island resort and stay for a few days. And snorkel to my heart's content!
We have a 1 night stopover in Nadi in October by the time we get out of the airport it will be around 6.30pm and have to be back there again at around 6am in the morning. We are 2 adults & 2 children (11 & 13) my choice is either stay at the Raffles Gateway hotel across the road from the airport - easy location and apparently nice pool but no feeling of being in Fiji or else the First Landing Resort 15mins taxi ride from airport - further away and pool not as nice but right on the beach with more of a feeling of being in Fiji even for a short time - what does everyone think? I can't seem to make up my mind.I would welocme your thoughts, Michele
Re: Hotel advice
I don't think you will have much time to enjoy the pool anyway if you are not getting off the plane until 6:30pm. The sun will be setting by the time you clear immigration. I would choose the one that is closer to the restaurants and/or night time activities (maybe one with a Fijian show?).
Re: Hotel advice
Thank you for your imput you are right about not putting too much emphasis on the pool, we have decided to stay at First Landing not sure if they have any sort of show on a Monday night but at least the gardens look lovely and tropical and it is on the beach so an early morning stroll before we leave for the airport might be nice. On that note would you happen to know if the taxi's are reliable, if we booked one the night before for an early (5.30am) pick up could we be sure that the taxi will be on time? It would be awful to miss the plane because of a taxi not being on time. I thank you for your thoughts. Michele
Re: Hotel advice
Normally the hotel has a contracted driver, so make sure when you check in to ask for a hotel taxi to the airport. Typically this might cost 10% more, but in case of making or missing a plane, it is worth it.
Re: Hotel advice
Thank you for the tip, I will use it. regards, Michele
Re: Hotel advice
First Landing pool is much nicer than Raffles. The only good thing about Raffles is its proximity to the Airport. The Mercure Hotel 10mins from the airport is a good choice or Tanoa International Hotel. First Landing is great but it is a shame to only spend so short a time there. It is the best by far.
However as you won't have time to avail yourselves of the resort facilities I would save my money & go to one in town.
Re: Hotel advice
Thank you to everyone for their imput, it's a pity we only have one night but I think a longer stay in the future might be on the cards. Thanks again. Michele
8 hour layover in Fiji
I have a eight hour layover in Fiji on my way to Tonga from LAX for a medical mission. Any suggestions of how to spend that time? We arrive at 5:30am, so perhaps a nice breakfast or brunch. On the return trip we have an 11 hour layover from 11am until 10pm.
Re: 8 hour layover in Fiji
One thing you could do is get a taxi to the nearby Tanoa Hotel for breakfast, and probably you could have a swim in their pool. Even better hotels are out at the Denaru area, if you want to travel further from the airport at Nadi, and these have beaches. There are some great gardens at the Sleeping Giant area, but this would require either a hired car, taxi, or tour. I consider the marketplace at Lautoka to be interesting, but it might not be to your taste, as it is very "local" and a bit grubby -- but that's also what you are going to find in Tonga, so it might be a good introduction to the region.
There are plenty of other things to do here when you have your 11-hour layover, such as river rafting and jungle hiking and small boat tours, so you could do some research on the internet to figure out what might suit you best, and what might fit your timeframe. Just keep in mind that checking back into the airport can be an unpleasant and time-consuming effort(no A/C!, long lines), so be at least 2 hours early. Bula! (welcome greeting in Fiji).
Crusoe's Retreat : anybody been here recently?
we are are family of 4 going to Fiji for out first time in November.We are currently booked to stay at Crusoe's reteat for part of the time and The Shangri La Fijian the rest of the time.
We are wanting to know if anyone has stayed at Crusoe's Retreat recently and if they can tell us about it and if they have any suggestions.
Re: Crusoe's Retreat : anybody been here recently?
We stayed at a Tanoa a 3-star or $$$ hotel in Nadi, but from our experience, we're happily surprised everything was much better than the hotel in Sydney, very much like a 5-star hotel in Hawaii and better, and I got a good feeling just by the name of those two hotels, I am sure they will be great too.
Have you done a google search for game fishing Fiji, lots of companies, here's some quick one with pricing, sorry cann't help you more, since we only went snuba diving and cruise only.
Have a great trip!