Exotic. Crystal blue waters. Cool ocean breeze. Fiji. That’s what I pictured whenever I heard of the islands and booked the 2 night layover. But Nadi, the backpackers hub, has a totally different vibe.
We arrived an hour early at 5:20 am. The rain was so heavy that it sounded like hail. As we descend from our aircraft the thickness in the air lulled us back to sleep. The pleasant 11 hour flight turned into a humid dream state. I don’t think customs have ever been easier and people more friendlier. Bula! Bula! (Bula translates to welcome/hello) at every turn.
Smuggler cove the place we called home for the next few days was right on the beach and we treated ourselves to a room with a view. Although we arrived super early in the morning our room was ready and we lost about 75 pounds, our backpacks combined. Which allowed us to move more swiftly and quickly. We didn’t get to do much as the rain kept on coming. So we hung around our place enjoying a cold one, local fresh cuisine, and company of fellow travelers. Oh and the cutest little kittens!
On our second day the sun was out and it got hot quick! We slathered on sunscreen and took the local bus into town and meandered about. Picked up some coconuts and had their milk (we were quickly informed that the ones we were drinking out of are usually for the meat and not the milk, as they are a bit older). At the market we thought we ate some Fiji apples in Fiji ~ but to my surprise apples and many of the condiments are actually imported from New Zealand. Oh and ketchup goes by tomato sauce, because it’s real tomato sauce 😉 Had lunch at a restaurant by the river and caught the bus back just before another down pour.
Although Nadi was not the paradise we thought it would be I loved it for what it was even more. Both Brian and I have traveled to the Caribbean and other islands before and they sure have their own beauty. But Nadi, well if you want the real deal and not the marketed Fiji it’s here, at least for the next five years. The local government is all for growth. Welcoming developers and commercial buildings are being built all over the coast line. Nadi is transforming and will lose its charm in the next five years, bringing with it more opportunities for the locals. We are happy to have experienced it before its hopeful economic boom.