When I booked my plane tickets to study abroad in Sydney, Australia I decided to make a few pit stops on my way back to the U.S. The last stop on my adventure was spent island hopping around the Yasawas of Fiji.
“Happiness is only a flight away!”
With pristine beaches and the promise of paradise, this Fijian motto can easily entice any traveler to fly into Nadi International Airport (NAN) to explore the islands, especially the Yasawas.
Upon arriving in Fiji on Air New Zealand from New Zealand, I adopted my own mentality – “No plans, no problem!” Cue Miley…. “I hopped off the plane at NAN with a dream and my bathing suit. Welcome to the land of beach excess (whoa), I was gonna fit in!”
Alright, that’s enough before I spend too long rewriting the whole song as “Party in FIJI!” But after hopping off my plane I went straight to the travel agencies at the Nadi International Airport to figure out a game plan. I chose an island hopping pass with Awesome Adventures Fiji. My ferry, known as the “Yasawa Flyer” allowed me hop on and hop off Fiji’s Yasawa Islands as I wished.
After four months backpacking Australia and New Zealand (check out my posts on The Outback and Queenstown) ending in the Yasawas of Fiji was just what I needed. Fiji’s island living offered the perfect retreat to rest and rejuvenate before my return home. It was also extremely easy to explore the Yasawa Islands via the island hopping pass.
I spent most of my time on the Naviti Island where the locals greeted us with song and dance.
My days were lost reading in the hammock, exploring the islands, resting on the beaches and enjoying the company of fellow travelers in the Yasawas.
Every island gave me the opportunity to interact with locals, which included helping them gather food and taking part in their traditions.
As a “Survivor” superfan, my trip was also an opportunity to fend for myself by finding and breaking open coconuts to eat and drink.
The Yasawa Islands I visited had basically two options for lodging: dorms and private cabanas. As a solo traveler I stayed in dorms, but a couple I knew from the Boston University Sydney Internship Program stayed in cabanas.
We traveled as backpackers and did not take the time to check out more resort-style accommodations, which are definitely available throughout the Yasawas of Fiji. I would recommend checking out options and booking through Agoda if you want to plan ahead.
My experience in Fiji was a great ending to my semester abroad adventure. Was it everything I expected Fiji to be? Not exactly. And therein lies the problem… expectations. The widely held perception of Fiji – the epitome of island paradise – most likely set my “expectations” too high. It’s possible that the 3 of the 333 islands I stayed on were not as pristine as the commercialized pictures I grew up with and expected Fiji to be. But the lesson I learned is that setting expectations too high can be more dangerous than helpful. Was I disappointed in my experience of Fiji in comparison to my expectations? Yes. Was I disappointed in my experience of Fiji independent of my expectations? NO!! Fiji is beautiful, full of incredible people, offers a unique experience of South Pacific island living and is a great getaway from reality. I can’t wait to return to explore the other 330 islands of Fiji.