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Fantastic FIJI: Castaway in paradise

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Oarsman's Bay, Fiji. Photo: TravelingReporter.com

Oarsman’s Bay, Fiji. Photo: TravelingReporter.com

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FIJI TRAVEL GUIDE. The blockbuster movie Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks as a Fed Ex employee who is stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash, was shot in Fiji. It is a fact that the guide aboard the Yasawa Flyer does not miss to point out, as we board the vessel at the harbour of Nadi, Fiji. The Flyeris the shuttle ferry that covers the Yasawa islands northwest of Fiji’s main island.

Some say that only the Cook Islands might compete with Fiji in terms of paradise settings. If you long for internet-free, lazy days in the sun, with corral reefs, palms and stunning views wherever you look, this is the place for you. If you are in Sydney, you should consider setting aside a week or two in Fiji, few hours east from Australia. Flights are plenty, as Fiji keeps its own airline, Air Pacific.

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Here are the basics that you need to consider when planning your Fiji adventure.

What to expect in the Yasawas

The Yasawas is an archipelago of about 20 or so islands, many of them with resorts and lodging possibilities. It’s possibly Fiji’s most touristy destination, but the number of visitors are kept down, as you are not allowed to set foot on an island if you haven’t pre-arranged lodging (more about that below). The Traveling Reporter visited the Yasawas in January, [cleeng_content id=”128817074″ description=”Premium Content Access – to continue reading, you need to pay ¢79 (€0.79 ≈ US ). ” price=”0.79″ referral=”0.1″ ls=”2012-06-11 00:00″ le=”2012-06-11 00:00″]when there are usually lots of visitors around, but we never felt there were too many people.

Above Oarsman’s Bay, Fiji. Fires are common in the islands.

Our ferry departs in the morning from a jetty in the harbor of Nadi, Fiji’s chief travel hub. The journey aboard the boat is absolutely fantastic, with post cardviews everywhere. At the resorts, you have a range of activities to indulge in, from partying, snorkling, going fishing, diving and such. Meals are prepared by the resort’s staff and usually included in the package. There are no real restaurants, beside those at the resorts, and almost no stores on the islands, so you are pretty much left with what the chefs can come up with. The food is generally OK, if not superb, but it is a good idea to keep a small stash with basics, like candy, water and fruit, in your pack. And don’t forget your medicines, or whatever else you might need, like batteries for your torch or radio.

The quality of the resorts differs wildly, ranging from luxury suites with swimming pools to dorms with trash lying around. In 2012, at the time of our visit, the Sunset Resort turned out to be one such disappointment. The place looks idyllic from a distance, but on shore we found the main building where dinners were served only half finished and lots of timber and trash kept in piles on the beach. It might very well have changed since then. But it is a good idea to ask around among people you meet on the ferry before you decide where to go.

Internet connections are scarce and you shouldn’t count on any reliable mobile coverage. If you’re not heavily into snorkling or related activities, bring a good book or two, as there are not much else to do here than relax, have a beer or go for a walk.

How to get around

Embarking the shuttle ferry Yasawa Flyer, Fiji.

The Yasawa Flyerdeparts in the morning from Nadi and arrives at Oarsman’s Bay in the north by noon. There it turns south again and arrives in Nadi by evening. En route the boat stops at various islands, where passengers depart and are rushed ashore in dinghys. The dinghy then picks up travelers who want to leave the island and brings them back to the ferry.

Using this schedule, it’s possible to hop back and forth between islands, catching a northbound ride in the forenoon, or a southbound in the afternoon.

However, you’ll need to arrange lodging before you depart from the ferry. This is done at a very efficient booking desk on the boat, where crew members take reservations and call ahead by radio to check if there are rooms available at the destination you aim at. Every now and then you’ll find the place of your choice is fully booked, and you will then quickly have to change your travel plans. The procedure can be a little stressful at times if your visit coincides with a visitor’s peak. But having said that, it is still perfectly possible to go about exploring the islands without much advance planning as there are lots of islands and resorts to chose from in the archipelago.

How to get there

The Moonduster was stranded in a monsoon at Oarsman’s Bay, Fiji.

Fiji’s international airline Air Pacific covers just about all major airport in the region, as well as multiple destinations in the United States and one in Canada. But as Fiji is often included in a roundtrip covering Australia and New Zealand, many use the airline just to make the hop to Nadi from places like Sydney.

The cheapest round trip ticket from Sydney to Nadi, Fiji, in mid-Januari of 2013 will set you back about 350 Australian dollars (≈ €270).

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Map of the Yasawa islands, Fiji


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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.