Most of the time when I’m on travel assignments, it really is bloody hard work.
Itineraries are packed to bursting, I’m constantly jotting down notes and taking photos and videos while simultaneously trying to get a deeper understanding of the destination, there are meetings with managers and publicists, there are late nights and there are very early mornings.
Last week’s trip to Fiji, however, was different. I was there with Fiji Airways, working on upcoming stories for Good Weekend, SKY News and SMH Traveller. But being an island paradise our itinerary involved, well, nothing much at all. It felt like a genuine holiday. Which meant I had the head and heart space to fall completely head over heels for Fiji.
Our first two days were spent at Volivoli, a family-owned resort perched on the most northerly tip of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, where we were welcomed by bath-warm seas, waving palms, and the most delicious clouds scooped up over the mountains.
We spent our time lazing in daybeds in the sunshine, piña coladas in hand, and snorkelling across reefs smattered with clown and parrot fish, psychedelic corals and the most incredible lavender-coloured crown jellyfish. We took a sunset boat trip out to explore some of Fiji’s 333 islands, and visited the Rakiraki local market, filled with delicious tropical fruits and the beaming smiles of the locals.
Our group of five had the entire 14-acre island at our disposal for two days. We took kayaks out and paddled the circumference of the island. We got massages from the most wonderful local healer, then lazed by the sleek infinity pool while sipping piña coladas (yes, again – they were made with fresh coconut milk, how could we say no?).
We bathed in our freestanding tubs, we had sunset drinks on the pontoon, we indulged in seafood extravaganzas pulled directly from the ocean and whipped up by the island’s “auntie” Dawn. Most of all, we let those south easterly trade winds lull us into a tropical stupor.
Needless to say, I’m a Fiji convert. I think you should all go. Especially if you’re Aussie, since it’s less than a four hour flight away. And also because your tourism dollar can help the Fijians get back on their feet after last year’s devastating Cyclone Winston.
If you need more convincing, I’ve popped my latest video and playlist below. They just might help stave off Australia’s impending winter blues for a little while longer.