Fiji Gap Year Travel: Suva. South Pacific Islands
Fiji is a beautiful group of over 300 islands in the South Pacific Ocean with a wide mixture of influences including Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese and European. Unfortunately this has been tainted by a turbulent history with a military coup in 1987 and more recently in 2006.
After a 3 hour flight from Auckland, we arrived at Fiji airport near Suva on the main and largest island - Viti Levu.
I met various backpackers before the hostel mini bus arrived to pick us up just as the torrential rains began to pickup. As usual, I had booked the first few nights online before arriving in Fiji. The hostel was just outside Suva and had a few mixed dorms in addition to a bar and restaurant.
I had arrived in Fiji at the tail end of the rainy season which ranges from December to February. The next day we travelled into Suva to have a look around. Suva is much like any other town except that we were told it becomes more dangerous in the evenings and at night as gangs roam the streets. Muggings were allegedly quite common and most people at the hostel decided to avoid Suva that night. I had a meal at one of many Indian restaurants with an Australian guy I had met at the hostel. Besides the average meal, we were also offered a few night time pleasures but we politely declined.
In the evening a few of us sat with a few Fijian musicians and singer around a Kava bowl at the hostel. Kava is the local Fijian drink made from the root of the pepper plant and gives a slight high & lightheaded feeling as the lips and mouth become numb. We filled our small cups from the bowl and as each song came to an end, we would raise our cups, say something in Fijian and then drink the Kava. After a few songs and a few cups of Kava, we had all developed a speech impediment as if we were learning to talk for the first time. Later that evening a few of us went to a bar just on the outskirts of Suva. It was great to meet many locals who were all very sociable on the whole. Having recovered from the Kava, I decided to stay a few more days in Suva.
As my time in Suva came to an end, many people made plans to go to some of the outer islands including the diver's paradise of Kadavu, the backpacker Yasawas islands, the more upmarket Lomaiviti islands including Ovalau and the Mamanucas - a beautiful area with coral reefs and turquoise waters. Normally I would rush to the islands but after five months of travelling around the world, I was beginning to suffer from exhaustion which made it harder to appreciate the natural beauty of these stunning islands. I decided that it would be better to re-visit Fiji's islands on some future trip. I still had many islands to visit in the Pacific including the main highlight of my time in the Pacific - French Polynesia and Bora Bora in particular. I decided to save my energy for Bora Bora but my next stop on my gap year world travel was the Cook Islands.