Fiji Flashback

I’m so grateful that the weather has been so nice here in Ireland recently. Today is going to be 18 degrees if you can believe it (that’s like 28 in Australia!) but sometimes I allow myself to drift off to memories of island life in warmer seas. I decided to use my notes from my old travel diary to create today’s post about the beautiful Fijian islands that I visited a few years ago.

From the place you’d rather be this lovely Monday morning…

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Day 1

I arrived at Sydney airport at half 6 this morning and was greeted with the delightful surprise that I cannot go to Fiji on a one way ticket hmmm! Why do they sell one way tickets so? I ended up buying a very expensive return flight on a flexible fare to allow me to change it ( you never know I might want to stay!) problem sorted 🙂 When I arrived in Nadi (pronounced Nandi) airport I was greeted by 3 men singing and playing some native song and they all wore flowers in their hair! It was just lovely!I was even given welcoming beads to wear 🙂

Bula means hello and welcome!!
The resort shuttle bus soon came to pick me up and off we went.My driver’s name was Joe and he was very nice. The roads are quite bad and the driving is atrocious and my suspicions were confirmed when I later witnessed a bus crashing into a car!! Interestingly this incidence did not deter my ambitious desire to attempt the local bus getting into the main town, which isn’t far away as I am staying on the beach! The bus was about 100 years old and had no windows and I can’t even begin to describe the gear stick!! So far, no other tourists, just me, which is probably why, once in the town, I was accosted by every shop owner trying to get me into their store! Opting for the safer choice, I got taxi back and watched an amazing sunset from the rooftop, overlooking the beach.

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Day 2
I spent the morning organising my trip and I decided on a bula combo pass, which includes sea transfers and accommodation and food to the Mamanucas and Yasawas. Apparently I will be lucky to have electricity so will have no internet or phone coverage on the islands! The man in the office has kindly requested chicken and chips for me for lunch and dinner at each of the resorts hehe! (Priorities!) Chilled out on the beach for the day!

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Day 3
Got picked up at 7.15am (what kind of holiday is this?!) and spent the day on the boat. We passed many of the other islands I didn’t choose to stay at, so was nice to see them all. Some of them are tiny seriously! My first island stop is Bounty Island for a few nights. I met some lovely people staying here as there is only one resort on the whole island and set meal times so everyone has to come to eat at the same time when called. It’s quite funny! I’m not sure a roasted pig constitutes chicken and chips, but I embraced the challenge of trying something new. It wasn’t so bad 🙂 One of the days here I kayaked around the whole island… In 20 minutes!!

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Day 6
It seemed the mana flyer (my transport for the day) was on Fiji time, (everything runs late but don’t worry we’re on island time!) when it didn’t turn up to take me to my next island but later, it transpired that it was late because it actually broke down and a little replacement boat came to collect me 3 hours later. While I was waiting I lay out by the pool and watched a little Fijian boy having a scuba diving lesson in the pool. It was very cute! I had my doubts about the dependability of the replacement boat when the engine suddenly stopped mid ocean! Uh oh! I immediately imagined myself heroically swimming to the island with an adventurous tale to tell in the end. Luckily it was just a case of pulling the pipe that was sucking the petrol out of a canister and putting in another petrol container. It had run out of fuel and I found this immensely amusing! I was quite happy bobbing away in those gorgeous waters anyway… As long as the fish didn’t get me ( silly fear of fish.. I’m working on it lol!)

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Eventually landed on Mana island. It seems the lonely planet book review was quite accurate about the resort I was booked into, which is why I didn’t want to stay in this place, but according to Ab, who booked my trip, it was the only place that would accommodate my chicken and chips every day request. I found out later that the english couple next door to me were the only other people in the resort and turns out it was Ab who booked their trip too. It was so unprofessional,more like someone’s home. It didn’t even have a name on the establishment!

Anyway, I went for walk and booked my trip on the seaspray for tomorrow. On my return, I asked about using the internet and turns out there’s no electricity until 5pm. It was raining and stormy so I went to lie down only to find 2 black bugs on my bed eggghh!! There was a loud banging noise and I discovered it was a man making cava, a Fijian drink. I’m curious as to what it tastes like because it looks like mud lol!

Day 7
Had fun today on the day trip to Monuriki which is where Castaway, the movie with Tom cruise was filmed. I needed the fun after a horrendous night last night. Briefly, there were many over living creatures keeping me company in my bedrooms me so my sleep was intermittently distrusted by my compulsive need to use the torch on my phone to check and make sure there was nothing crawling on my bed! At about 2am I heard a strange noise. I shone the light around the room. Nothing. And again… The strange scratchy noise. I shot the light directly in front of my bed to see a dark shadow perched upon the other empty bed. Frozen in fear I mentally calculated how safe it would be to get up and turn the light on. Oh wait… No electricity. Bloody marvellous!! Ok maybe I imagined it… So I look again and there is a big fat rat. Omg!! Grabbed bag and legged it out of the room, with my heart racing.As luck would have it the door to the reception was closed and no one was about so I sought refuge in the building next door. It was a bar that I had watched a traditional Fijian dance earlier. I sat, curled up in a ball, on that chair,a fraud to sleep but my fear disappeared with the night and my spirits rose with the sun and I was ready to enjoy another fabulous day in Fiji.
We visited a few other smaller islands as well as a local village to participate in a cava drinking ritual with an elder from the community.

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Day 9
Finally, some luxury. I arrived for four glorious nights in Malolo. Walu beach, where I was staying, was specially built for the reality show called The Resort!!! In fact Bounty Island, which is a 20hectare coral island, was used for Celebrity Love Island while Mana was the setting for tv show, Fiji Survivor. ( I think I deserve that title!lol!) I spent these few days chilling I a. Hammock, reading by the pool, learning about the medicinal purposes of plants found on the island, enjoying food cooked underground and I even made my own bracelets from leaves and coconuts. I feel very accomplished lol!

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This is really the colour of the water!!!

This is really the colour of the water!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences of Fiji. There are so many more islands to visit I definitely will return.

5 Beaches with a difference… The most colourful beaches in the world

Now we all have that image in our minds of crystal clear turquoise waters ebbing gently on beautiful white powdery sand… It’s the stuff of day dreams and fantasies. Being addicted to sunshine and coastal living I’ve seen my fair share of golden beaches but if you want something different you might like these…

Punalu’u black sand beach, Hawaii

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Black sand beaches can be found on volcanic islands such as Hawaii or Lanzarote, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. This beach, I visited in Hawaii, was about 2 hours drive south of Hilo and we found it easily reading the signs and the rental cars map. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t amazing that day but the beach was lovely. An entire beach covered in black sand with huge columns of trees swaying violently along the edge of the sand created quite the dramatic effect.There’s little more than a shop here so bring whatever you need with you for a day trip.  Also, another tourist attraction here is the turtles. They were swimming right at the waters edge and in the middle of the beach had a little nest where they laid their eggs. Pretty awesome 🙂

Papakolea Green sand beach, Hawaii

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It’s quite a hike to get to this beach (2.6miles to be exact)! Locals have copped on to the fact that some visitors are on the lazier side (me!) and offer rides on the back of their trucks from the make shift car park to the top of the cliff where you want down to the beach. I think they charge $15-20 per person return. Alas, I wasn’t alone and my German compadre was more than happy for us to walk the whole way to the beach! So, as I longingly gazed as each truck drove by, we progressed through fields, sand and mud to get to our destination. To the right was a beautiful horizon and it had become a habit of mine to stare out into the ocean as I had successfully seen many whales breach and this time did not fail. Watching as a family of three or four whales swim by,far in the distance, makes my heart slip every time. After about 45 minutes we arrived at the top of the cliff and began to descend the steep slope to greener pastures! We were greeted by a handful of people who were chilling out on the beach but in general the beach was quiet. After a bit of splashing about in the water and taking some photos it was time to head back to the car as we still had quite a drive to go before evening fell. It’s illegal to take the green sand with you as it is considered rare so be careful if you do go there! Interestingly enough, a few weeks later I ended up on a private beach, accessible only by sea, and there was also some green sand there as well as white, brown, red and purple. The most interesting sand combination I’d ever seen!

 

Rainbow beach, Australia

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During my travels down the east coast of Australia we stopped at Rainbow Beach for a few nights. It may have just initially been a stopover with the intention of sailing out to Fraser Island from here, however, this small town boosts a gorgeous beach that is said to be made from 72 different coloured sands, hence the name!
Perfect for a day of relaxing in the endless Sunshine Coast.

Siesta Key, Florida, USA

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Everyone likes to play sometimes and Siesta Key is the perfect playground. The famous white sand here is so soft and powdery it actually feels like snow. This is because it is 99% silica in its content. Every year they hold world famous sand building competition in May and people of every age come from all over the globe to participate in this fun in the sun. http://www.escape-to-sarasota.com/siesta-sand-sculpture-contest.html. I’m not generally a fan of sand and the way it gets in all the awkward crevices but this soft sand felt so amazing I couldn’t help myself from making some sand angels lol!

Pink Sand Beach, Bermuda

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Located in Bermuda, this beach indeed a pinky colour. It’s pink hue is as a result of tiny red organisms living under the coral reef and when they die, they, along with shell and coral particles, are corroded and abraded into tiny sand particles.

 

These are my favourite beaches with a difference. Please feel to leave a comment below to tell me about an unusual beach you’ve been to. Otherwise you can just use the poll to vote for your favourite! Maybe I should trade in my flip flops for  Dorothy’s shoes… Simply click your heels together… I wish 🙂

 

 

 

7 days to see… Ireland

This lovely Emerald Isle is small enough that you can drive from north to South in 8 hours and east to west in just over 2 hours! On my travels I’ve often been asked for advice on where to go in Ireland. There’s so much to choose from but I’ve managed to put together an itinerary here that includes the best sights Ireland has to offer.
Day 1 – 2 Dublin

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Dublin, the capital and biggest city in the country, certainly is bustling with activity and has lots of sights to appeal to tourists. In fact I’m always surprised how few Irish people I hear when I’m wandering through the city. Dublin seems to have become an international hub for foreign students especially South Americans, which, in my opinion definitely adds to Dublin’s appeal 😉
There are several tourist offices on the O Connell St. where you will find maps and information on places to go. In the middle of O Connell street is the Spire which is 120m in height and has towered above the city’s skyline since it’s unveiling in 2002.
The city is built along the River Liffey and there are many lovely bridges to cross over but my favourite is the city’s first pedestrian bridge, the Ha’ penny Bridge, where couples write their names on padlocks and padlock them to the bridge and throw away the key as a symbol of their love and commitment to each other. I think it’s very sweet!
The Guinness Storehouse is a very popular place to visit in Dublin also. Despite it being typically an old mans drink, many young and old visitors to the city can be seen sipping on the famous Irish drink, trying to experience the famous Irish culture!
Temple bar is perhaps the most popular area as it is filled with restaurants and bars playing traditional Irish music and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see live bands playing on any given evening with merry folk dancing around! For shopping, check out Grafton St. and make sure to walk by St. Stephens Green to enjoy the lake and beautiful gardens. Dublin zoo in Phoenix park is another lovely outing.

Day 3 – 4 Kerry

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Kerry is home to many beautiful beaches. Ireland isn’t famous for it’s good weather but when the sun does appear, these beaches are crowded with people, enjoying the sunshine.
Killarney is a popular town to visit and you can spend hours wandering the quaint streets or sampling some Irish coffees while listening to live Irish music in many of the pubs here. Most people use Killarney as their base for exploring the surrounding regions, especially the famous Ring of Kerry. Click on the link for more information on the amazing mountains, waterfalls and lakes that can be seen in the area.
Another gorgeous, little town is Dingle, which is home to one of our most famous celebrities, Fungi the dolphin. He has been living here for over 30 years and a statue has been erected in his honour.
Another interesting fact is that there are some parts of Kerry that are part of the Gaeltacht which means they only speak the native Irish language, Gaelige/Irish.

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Day 5 Limerick

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This is my home town 🙂
Limerick is a small city located on the River Shannon. A 15 minute drive from the city you will arrive in Killaloe from where you can do a self driven boat trip along the river. There are lovely cafés and restaurants here if you fancy just relaxing with a nice view.
Bunratty is located just a short distance outside the city as well and is a well preserved medieval fortress built in 1425. You will definitely enjoy a day exploring the folk park and climbing the steep,narrow, winding staircases in the castle. At night, you can participate in a lavish banquet served by waiting staff in native costumes and enjoy the live musical and dance performances. If you don’t fancy leaving the city I’d recommend a visit to St. John’s Castle which is right in the city centre.

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Day 6 Clare

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Located in the west of Ireland, is County Clare, which is best known for its stunning coastline. It is home to one of the most visited sights in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. Here you can witness the staggering columns of rock lining the jagged coast of Clare which is absolutely breathtaking so don’t forget your camera.
Beaches are plentiful in this part of the country. Kilkee and Lahinch are the biggest beach towns and are often crowded on a sunny day. Lahinch is a popular place for hen and stag nights so pubs are often filled with young people having a great time and wearing costumes for the occasion. Luckily nothing cures a hangover like a dip in the Atlantic so the surf schools are usually busy at the weekends. I have enjoyed some surfing lessons here myself!
The Burren is a unique karst landscape which should also be visited if you have some extra time in Clare.

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Day 7 Galway

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Galway is always a favourite city for visitors. Drop by the beach in Salthill for an early morning jog and spend the afternoon revelling in some retail therapy in the lovely pedestrian shopping streets. Galway is a great place for a night out to get to know the friendly locals and have the ‘craic’!

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My five favourite… Islands

Gozo Island, Malta

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A gorgeous day trip by boat from Malta is the beautiful island of Gozo. The best way to explore this tiny island is to rent a car and head off to all the famous sights, like the Azure Window, while marvelling at the unique countryside along the way. My favourite place, that I revisited last year, is this tiny town, Xlendi Bay. It is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

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It’s impossible to choose just one of these treat-sized islands as each one is pretty much the same but all equally stunning with crystal clear waters and all inclusive resorts, these islands are the perfect retreat if you want to do absolutely nothing but relax.

Oahu, USA

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It’s difficult to choose just one Hawaiian Island also but I think Oahu is the most diverse, with lush,green rainforests, white, sandy beaches as well as shopping and outdoor activities to suit everyone, not to mention its famous surf spots.

Fraser Island, Australia

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Fraser Island can be a 1 or 3 day excursion from Rainbow Beach. There are miles of uninterrupted beaches and beautiful lakes and forests. A unique attraction here is driving on the beaches while looking out at the dingos (wild dogs) chasing your vehicle and whales breaching out in the ocean. A visit to this island isn’t complete without stopping to see the lovely Lake McKenzie and also I really enjoyed the short flight over the whole island, which also gave us a great view of the islands famous shipwreck.

Ibiza, Spain

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Having lived in Ibiza for five months, I have very fond memories of this island and despite being renown for its club scene, Ibiza also has many scenic locations to escape from the craziness every once in awhile. It is said to have a very powerful electromagnetic force, like Hawaii, which keeps people returning every year, and while I don’t know if it’s that or the great djs, I would definitely recommend the ibiza experience to everyone who wants a little fun in their lives.
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