Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Coral Coast, Vitu Levu, Fiji

This stop was one of the "should we?" places on our trip.  Originally we wanted to do the whole "Survivor" beach hut experience on a relatively deserted island, but they were closed in the month of March for renos (? who reno's a beach hut?) Anyway, Virgin gave us two options:  Samoa or Fiji.  Samoa honestly was our first choice, though looked more expensive for accomodation.  Infortunately, though the price of the flight was almost identical, the flight times were horrible, landing us in Samoa at 1am which is not great when you don't know where you are going or how to get there.  Fiji also had better options for the length of our stay - we would have had to be in Samoa for a full week, and in Fiji we could do 3-4 days which is what we preferred.  Fiji is it.

Best choice for a place to stay?  Well, asking around I kept hearing to avoid the city area, and the port was overpriced, but the Coral coast was nice.  Trip Advisor gave us a short list of 3 properties, and I managed a great internet rate for a place called The Warwick.  Apparently it was a Hyatt, until Hyatt pulled out of the island.  You see, Fiji has had a lot of political instability in the last 20 years that we really didn't want to get involved with, especially with the track record we have been having.  Honestly, if there is another coup attempt or riots or natural disaster in Fiji in the next month or so, we refuse to be held responsible (lol).

So, landing in Nadi, we chose a private taxi over the tour bus option, and got a pretty good tour on the 2.5 hour drive to the Coral coast. Our East Indian driver was very candid about the quality of life here for the Indians... basically they are not well liked and are, in his words, at the mercy of the Polynesian Fijians who own the land and have the "good" jobs at the resorts and in government.  Our driver was particularly upset about the lack of opportunity for his son, a 17 year old who is a wonderful tennis player but unable to get a scholorship, in his opinion because of political favoritism. I am sure if his sentiments are true, there is much more political unrest to come.

That aside, our resort was INCREDIBLE.  The Warwick Hotel was friendly (well, apart to our driver) and welcoming and clean and a pure refuge.  The food was excellent, and we had our fill of sushi and Japanese table cooking, like, 3 nights in a row.  Swimming in front of our resort was like being in a giant fish tank.  Warm, shallow, teaming with scores of fish and Katie was especially happy to find Nemo and his friend Dory in abundance.  Sea cucumbers, over 5 feet long and with tentacled mouths, munched slowly on the sea bottom, making us startle at first thinking it was covered in sea snakes, but quickly realizing they can only inch along the bottom and have no snake-like head, only the body was similar.  Very strange creature indeed.  And beautiful.

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