Have you ever heard of the FeeJee Experience? No, neither had I. At least not until I got a random newsletter email one day from a travel company publicising it. And am I glad I read that email!
The FeeJee Experience is a little like its Australian and New Zealand neighbouring companies, but also completely different. Yes it is a tour company who take you around the sights of Fiji, and yes you will meet fellow travellers on your tour, but this company provides you with so much more than just your standard getting from A to B transport. With your guide and driver leading the way, you will be immediately immersed into the Fijian culture, travelling around the mainland, visiting cities, beaches, schools and villages before being sent to a perfect paradise on some of the incredible islands Fiji has to offer.
We opted for the Triple Treat package, which meant we got 10 days exploring both the mainland and two different islands, Beachcomber and then Manta Ray. Here follows my daily diary of our Fijian adventure.
A Real FeeJee Experience: Day 1.
Bright and early on our first morning in Fiji we (and the other 8 people in our group) were picked up by the FeeJee Experience bus, introduced to our guide (the awesome Kay) and driver (the brilliant Mr. A) and off we went. What came next was four days of the most fun and laughs I think possible!
A quick stop in Nadi town centre was in order to buy any last minute items in the markets, then it was on to Natadola Beach for lunch, before a spot of sand boarding down a GIANT dune (this is where I’ll admit I was actually too chicken to give it a go…even the boys were quaking in their boots when they saw how steep it was!). Then it was off to Mango Bay Resort for the night where we had some excellent food, enjoyed our first Kava ceremony (Kava is a traditonal Fijian drink made from the roots of a plant and has a relaxing, numbing effect in the body and mind), and watched a traditional Fijian show of dancing and fire juggling.
A Real FeeJee Experience: Day 2.
Up and out early, today was perhaps my best day of the trip. It was absolutely bucketing it down with rain, so the rainforest trek we were supposed to do was altered slightly. Instead of trekking in the rain all morning we got a long boat down the river and then walked through deep, wet, squelchy mud for the good part of an hour until we arrived at a beautiful waterfall, just in time for the sun to come out. We swam and played in the water for a while before splitting off into two groups to make our way back the way we had come. Myself and four other girls on our trip, the lovely Rosa, Sarah, Laura and Lara, were in the second (and best) group.
I say it was the best group because we definitely had the most fun…about 15 minutes into the walk (with the rain pouring again) our trek guide turned to us and asked if we’d rather swim back in the little river that runs alongside where we were walking. Looking down at our muddy and tired feet, we all nodded in agreement and jumped straight in, shoes and all. Then came the fun part…the current in this river was so strong we didn’t have to swim at all, just lift our feet off the floor and make at attempt at keeping our heaps above water, and away we went. With whoops and cries of laughter we went rushing along with the water, only stopping every now and again when a big branch or two got in our way. I’m not going to lie, there were a few hairy moments when the current got exceptionally fast, and we all got tangled in some reeds at one point, but it was honestly the most fun I’d had in ages, even if Sarah and I did lose our sunglasses in the chaos…to Sarah’s cries of “shall we go back for them?!”
We eventually reached the waiting long boat (but not before Kay had stopped us to give us some delicious sugar cane he’d just cut down) and, excitement over, it was back to the bus and on to Uprising Beach Resort, where we had an excellent lunch, a massage or two and generally just relaxed by the beach until night time.
A Real FeeJee Experience: Day 3.
Our first port of call on day three was Suva city, where we did a quick tour before stopping in another town for a spot of shopping. Then it was onto the Naiyala High School, where we were shown around by the awesome students and told all about their lives and schooling. Next up was a village visit…this visit was another one of my favourite things we did on the trip, as the whole village had come together to welcome us with a Kava Ceremony, a traditional Fijian lunch, followed by some billi billi rafting on the river (basically rafts made out of bamboo). Then it was back to the village hall for some (very lively) dancing and, of course, more Kava. I was so touched by the kindness of the people and their open, smiling faces, I was quite sad to leave and head off to Voli Voli Beach Resort for the night.
After a nice lie in and sunbathing session by the pool, we went to another tiny resort for a very strange lunch experience. It was an Indo-Fijian themed lunch, and we learned how to cook our own Roti, before eating what we had made alongside a delicious curry.
Our last stop on the tour was the Sebeto mud pools where we had a glorious time slathering ourselves in thick, stinky mud before cleaning off in the steaming natural hot pools.
So, with the guided part of our FeeJee Experience over, we were dropped back where we started, at Smugglers Cove Hotel, and said a sad goodbye to Kay and Mr. A, who would not be joining us for our island adventures.
The next 5 days passed in a blur of amazement. First up was Beachcomber Island, a teeny tiny island with blue seas and white sand, so small that you can walk all the way around in under 5 minutes…it was absolute bliss. We lay in the sun, ate good food, swam, snorkelled, fed turtles and just generally lazed about for our two days there.
Then it was off to Manta Ray Island for another three days, where again, we just chilled out in the sunshine, topped up our tans, went kayaking, ate, drank, made bracelets out of coconuts, went on a sunset cruise (which involved going around to the other side of the island, jumping into the sea on giant rubber rings, listening to music and drinking beer as the sun went down), and wore no shoes for the best part of a week…it was all just an absolute dream. I really didn’t want to leave this island lifestyle behind.
And you won’t either. I can promise you that.
Read more about Rusja’s travels on her blog Roo Around The World.