Bula! (Hello in Fijian)
My name is Karina and I work in the New Owner Services team, who on-board all of our lovely Owners, and we are located in our head office on the Gold Coast. My parents are WorldMark South Pacific Club Owners and this year we travelled as a family to Fiji!
We spent an amazing 8 nights at Wyndham Vacation Resorts Denarau Island over Easter and ever since we returned home, my 3 year old daughter Eliana has been asking me “When are we going back?” almost on a daily basis! Even as an adult, Fiji and it’s beautiful, kind hearted people leave an imprint on you which is hard to forget!
Family holidays can be stressful at times. So I’d like to share some tips with you to help your Fiji holiday be the best it can be! Feel free to post in the comments with your own tips!
1. What to pack?
Every time we travel, I pack Eliana’s Trunkii (ride on suitcase) with enough things to keep her entertained for at least double the time of the actual flights. This time around my parents gave her a portable DVD player which was a godsend on the plane!
I also packed quite a few grocery items in my luggage, which I declared on the Fijian Customs form. Items such as, ground coffee, pasta, biscuits, popcorn & noodles etc. were great to have for basic supplies. Kids can sometimes be a bit fussy with new foods in a new country and although Eliana loved the traditional Fish Lolo (Fish in Coconut cream) sometimes she just wanted favourites from home. Taking groceries from home saved us money too as we didn’t have to eat out as much because we self-catered in our beautiful 2 bedroom Standard Garden View room.
2. Get around town!
The day after we arrived we took the dollar bus (It costs just FJ$1 each way) into Nadi town. The bus stops directly outside our resort. Eliana loved ‘helping’ us pay with Fijian currency (many a dollar was lost during the trip L). In town we stocked up with fresh groceries from the supermarket, picked up fruit and veges from the Nadi Produce Market (Fijian bananas are AMAZING & the avocados were almost as big as my head) and then took a taxi back to the resort with our shopping! The taxi driver was happy to stop at the South Pacific Butchery which is on the road that takes you back to Denarau, so we could buy excellent quality meat, chicken, lamb, sausages to cook on one of the many BBQs dotted around the resort grounds! YUM! There’s a small store next to reception if you would like to buy fresh bread or any extras throughout your stay too and it is reasonably priced.
3. Experience Island life
A trip to Fiji isn’t complete until you’ve visited the outer islands. Our first day trip was on the 100 foot schooner, Whales Tale. It’s an all-inclusive day trip out to Schooner Island… after a delicious buffet BBQ lunch, hubby and I snorkelled while my parents took Eliana fish feeding on the glass bottom boat! The crew were excellent and they even played the guitar and sang nursery rhymes to Eliana when she got a bit grumpy before her nap time. The Fijian rendition of Wheel on the Bus is truly something to behold. She loved it!! Probably her happiest moment of the day was egging on her father to jump off the top of the boat into the water. She cheered him on and by the end of it, the whole boat was chanting “Papa, Papa, Papa” along with her! I’ve been recommending Whales Tale to every Owner I speak with, my family loved it!
Our second island visit was to Robinson Crusoe Island on their Cultural Day trip tour. This tour was different to Whales Tale in that it took us via bus through a few villages to the jetty where our river long boat departed from. It was nice to venture out of Denarau and Nadi to see more of the countryside.
Robinson Crusoe Island has so many activities on offer and it was a really entertaining day. My dad, who is not much of a beach person, really enjoyed this cultural trip. The coconut tree climbing was amazing to see as was the medicinal walk, showing us all the plants used in traditional medicine. Our lunch was a traditional lovo; fish and potatoes cooked underground accompanied by delicious home baked bread, salads and BBQ chicken. After lunch the Island Crew treated us to a Fijian dancing show followed by crab racing, which won Eliana a 2nd place prize! The Fijian people love kids and go out of their way to make their day special! We were really pleased with the service we received! We left Robinson Crusoe Island with big smiles on our face, full bellies and braids in our hair. It was a great day trip and I highly recommend it.
4.Chill out at the resort!
Children aged 5-12 years can enjoy the free kids club at Wyndham Denarau Island and they are happy to entertain littlies under 5yrs of age, so long as they are accompanied by an adult. As we were there over Easter, the kids club and activities staff organised a MASSIVE Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday which was a hit!
Every evening at sunset, the drums by the pool will sound to mark the beginning of the lantern lighting ceremony. The children were invited to participate and on our last night Eliana helped light the lantern.
5.Take some child-free time for yourself!
If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Wyndham Denarau Island with bring-along-babysitters (read: Grandparents) like us, do yourself a favour and check out Cloud9. It’s a floating bar in the middle of the ocean, on Ro Ro Reef. My husband and I escaped for the day and enjoyed relaxing on the deck, drinking cocktails and eating wood fire pizzas while listening to some great tunes! Rosie’s Tour desk can book it for you and you can thank me later!
Mum and I left Eliana with her dad and granddad for a few hours one day and did a cooking class with Flavours of Fiji. What better way to learn about the Fijian culture than to learn about their food! Ethee, Arti and Ajay were excellent teachers and taught us to make 3 Fijian dishes and 4 Indian dishes. We learnt the traditional way to scrape the inside of a coconut and how to make our own roti bread. The menu is seasonal and utilises the best local ingredients. We got to sit down and enjoy all of our yummy creations and have a chat with other guests from around the world. Definitely check out Flavours of Fiji if you have the chance; I have cooked a few of the dishes since being back at home and the family loves them!
If you’re thinking of checking out Fiji, don’t hesitate! We love it and have already booked again for next year! I might see you at the Pool Bar! Planning in advance is the best tip I can give you! Use your 13 month booking window wisely and remember that you have up to a month before your check in date to change your holiday should your plans not work out! But don’t miss the boat! Book early! And if your dates aren’t available at the time of searching, ask your friendly Owner Services team to place you on a waitlist! Waitlists are very effective and it’s the only way for us to search on your behalf and let you know if availability comes up!
Vinaka, (Thank you) from my family to yours.