River Rafting and a private island!

A few days at Bederra Beach Inn

After the shark dive Ashley and I spent the next couple days relaxing at our hotel the Bederra Beach Inn.  We made our way next door to a large resort that had a really awesome pool and beach area.   We toured all over the resort and it looked like a really awesome place to stay but was far outside our budget.   As we walked back to our hotel we noticed a small bar/restaurant on the side of the road.  We stopped in and had a drink and it turned out to be a pretty cool little spot.  We ended up coming back the next day for dinner.   It didn’t look like a nice place but the guy next to me ordered a steak and it came out looking amazing.  I ended up ordering the same and it was a randomly really good steak!

The next day Ashley was interested in checking out a glass blowing place that was near our hotel.    We made our way down to the glass blowing place and it was basically a woman’s house.  Outside she had a sheltered area where she had a kiln (I think) set up.   She was extremely friendly and offered to let us take a seat and watch her for a while.   She took the time to explain how the process works and told us what she was doing as she was sculpting a piece.   She was the only person in Fiji who had a kiln set up for this type of work and she was very busy.   Oddly enough she orders all the glass she uses from the United States.  Apparently it’s the only place she could get the quality of glass she needed delivered which seems crazy considering how far away it was.   We enjoyed checking out her various glass pieces but we didn’t have any room to buy anything unfortunately.

A beautiful rafting trip

Early one morning we woke up for our scheduled rafting trip.   We waited a bit and the bus came by to pick us up.   We drove about 30 minutes and then he dropped us off at a place where we met up with the rest of the people that were going that day.   We hopped on a different bus with the rest of the group.  There were only 8 people total going today so it was a nice small group.   We ended up over hearing a couple in the back of the bus who mentioned they were on their honeymoon.  We could tell they were from the states and asked where they were from.  Naturally, they were from Texas.   We were fortunate to get paired up with them in our raft and enjoyed talking with other American’s during our rafting trip.

The pictures we saw before the rafting trip made it look like it had awesome canyon walls.  We assumed this would just be a super short part of the trip and it would mainly be normal rafting but it wasn’t!  The rafting was an amazing trip that had steep canyon walls the whole way down.

Our tour guide, Moses, definitely added a lot to our trip.   Mosses had been a tour guide with the company since the company started over 10 years ago.  He was working in lumber prior to working at the rafting place.   Apparently an American or Australian (don’t recall which) guy came into their village and said he wanted to open a rafting company.  His village had the rights to the river and he had to get their blessing to open his company.   He got their blessing, but only if he hired people from their village to work on the river as guides.  His brother was selected but didn’t want to do it as he already had a job working in lumber and didn’t think he would like it.  He stepped up and took his brother’s place even though he knew zero English.   He quickly learned and has been a guide on the river ever since.  It turned out to be a much better job than the lumber job he left and it sounds like it’s better pay as well so it worked out for him nicely.  It was really cool to get to hear about his experience and more about his background.

In addition, Moses told us that he had been on an American TV show.  We asked him which one and he said, “The Newlyweds”.  If you recall, that’s the show with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey where it follows them around as newly weds.   He said they both showed up feeling pretty bad from partying the night prior.   He said that Nick was really cool and down to earth (as the show suggests) and that Jessica was very much an airhead (also as the show suggests).  They made it about half way down the river before Jessica got sick of it and they called in a helicopter to come pick them up.  Must be nice!

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The private island tour

The drive to get back to the airport from our hotel on the south side of the island was about 2 hours away.  We also had a very early flight (8 a.m.), so we needed to get a spot closer to the hotel the night before we left.  We decided to head back to Smugglers Cove which was the hostel we stayed at our first night.   We were also interested in doing a day cruise/private island tour.   The tour was a little bit pricey, but the catch was they would pick you up from basically anywhere on the big island if you signed up.   It was already going to cost us $50-$75 to get back so by signing up for the tour they would pick us up and drive us to within 15 minutes of hostel.

With bags and all we hopped on the tour bus for a very early start.  We made our way back to the marina that took us to the Yasawa Islands.   They let us stow our bags with them at the front desk while we were out for the day which was really nice.  We hopped on the tour and it was a nice mix of around 40 people.    As we approached our “private” island, we jumped onto a smaller boat that would transfer us over to the island.  We were some of the first there and got a nice little spot under a hut with some bean bags.   We hung out on the island for a few hours and they had a good buffet lunch and it was also all you can drink.   We did some snorkeling off the beach but compared to the Yasawa’s it wasn’t anything too special.   At one point they did a shark feeding and the crowd gathered around while they tossed food out.  Smaller reef sharks came into shore for the free meal.   We really enjoyed the tour but it was a very long day and we had an early morning flight out of Fiji.

We made our way back to Smugglers cove.   For the second time on the trip we were in a shared room.  Since we were literally showing up late and leaving very early (6 a.m) we decided to get a dorm.   We showed up right as the 2 20 something girls were just going out for the night.  We quickly hit the sack and feel asleep.  The girls came in around 3 or 4 a.m. and then just a couple hours later we were woke up and headed out around 6 a.m.   We’re getting old!

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Final Thoughts on Fiji

Our time in Fiji was absolutely amazing!  Especially after being in Asia, it was a much needed break from the crazy life of big cities.   We both felt extremely relaxed here and it’s definitely the place to go if you want to get away from everything.   One of the highlights of Fiji were the people.   At every turn the people of Fiji were genuinely so nice and so helpful.  We always felt right at home every place we went!  Going out to the Yasawa Islands was the highlight of our time in Fiji and Blue Lagoon was the top spot to be.   The resorts were amazing and the snorkeling and diving were absolutely incredible.

Our time in Fiji, while extremely fun, was also really tough on our budget.  We averaged $266/day on a $175/budget.  I went on a lot of dives which added a lot, but it’s just an expensive place to be.  The cost to get out to the Yasawa’s, the required meal plans that go with the resorts, and the tours (rafting/private island) were all expensive.

While we both REALLY loved Fiji, I would have a hard time recommending it if you’re coming from America.  For Australians/New Zealanders, it’s a no brainer.   Coming from America it’s going to be a very expensive and very long flight.  Couple that with the jet lag and you’re going to need some serious money and time to make the trip worth while.   The Caribbean offers a similar experience at a cheaper price with less travel time.  While I think Fiji beats many places I’ve been in the Caribbean, it’s not worth the extra travel time and cost in my personal opinion.   If you can include Fiji on a longer trip to Australia/New Zealand, love diving/snorkeling, of you’re on a honeymoon, I’d highly recommend it!

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