I remember hearing about Fiji as a kid and thinking, “Wow, I will never go that far away. But that seems like a cool place.” And now we’ve been there.
We decided to go to Fiji by accident. Brennan found an award plane ticket to New Zealand with a stop on the way in Fiji for 6 days last May or June. We booked it, not knowing if it would actually work for us to go. We started booking details in November and it still didn't feel real until we were on the plane.
We flew from Los Angeles to Nadi. The flight was 10.5 hours, but we crossed the international date line multiple times while we flew. We left LA on Wednesday night and arrived on Friday-we completely skipped Thursday! The flight was amazing with really friendly flight attendants and very comfortable seats. Brennan and I both slept well and woke up in Nadi ready to start our day.
We got off the plane and joined the line for immigration and there were bottles of Fiji water available for free! I wish every immigration line had water ready to go for people. Fiji was continuing the great hospitality we had on the plane through to the airport.
We landed at 5AM and were through immigration by 5:30. We found our shuttle and ended up spending several hours at the port because the ferry to our resort didn't leave until 1PM. It was pretty rainy, but there were cafes and restaurants for us to hang out at until we left.
We got on the ferry and rode about 45 minutes to our resort's island, Matamanoa. It's part of the Mamanuca Islands. We chose these islands because there is great snorkeling and it's where they film Survivor.
Our ferry ride was bumpy. We went up to the top deck, so we could see all around us and couldn't stand up without holding on to something because the waves were moving us around so much. As we came up to the island, we had to transfer to a smaller boat to go over to the island. When we got there, the staff of the resort was singing a welcome song and waving on the beach for us. From that point on, we knew it was going to be a special trip.
We got checked in and were shown to our villa. It was so nice, with flowers and a welcome message made out of plants on the bed. "Bula" means welcome and is used as a greeting. Our room had a small plunge pool and a private day bed and porch. From there, we were able to walk out to the beach where you could walk into the ocean for snorkeling on the house reef.
After we got settled and changed into swim suits, we decided to walk around the island and explore a bit. The island is small (around 7 square miles) and the resort is the only thing there. We checked out the walking paths and borrowed snorkeling gear from the dive shop.
Brennan got in the water, but the water was very rough. Once they calmed down a bit, we went out to snorkel. We were able to swim out and snorkel for a bit, but there were still waves and the current was strong. We decided to head in and started swimming toward the shore. I was swimming as hard as I could, but wasn't moving forward. I also looked down and had coral several inches from my stomach all around me. This is the only time I have ever felt scared in the ocean. We figured out later that we went out at the low tide, plus with the storm, it was not the time to be in the water. Thankfully, we were both okay and the water calmed down a lot for the rest of our time at the resort.
This was the main infinity pool. We never hung out here, since we had the pool at our villa. But, it was right beside the restaurant and was never crowded.
One thing the resort offered when we checked in was a foot massage. While Brennan was using the internet (it was only available for free at the main restaurant and pool area!), I went to get a foot massage. The therapist invited me to check out the other massage rooms-they looked amazing! You could hear the water from up there and see out to the horizon. It was the perfect island spa.
We went out snorkeling off a boat around the island, as well as out a little farther to some other islands to snorkel around them. All of it was amazing-we saw tons of blue starfish, large schools of fish, lots of coral. Brennan and I both love to snorkel, so doing the excursions, plus being able to go out on our own off the beach was great. My parents got Brennan a waterproof pouch for Christmas, so we were able get some underwater video and photos.
The island behind me is where they film Survivor! We went back and watched old episodes and were able to see this beach!
Matamanoa is a small resort. I don't know that there were more than 60 guests there the entire time we were on the island. Because of this, there is only one restaurant where you eat all your meals and a bar beside it. The staff lives on the island for several weeks, before going back to the main island for their breaks. They were all so friendly and really got to know us-everyone knew what our room number was and what we liked to drink by the second day. The warmth of the people and how welcome I felt will stay with me when I think back on this trip.
One of the traditions of the resort that happens during dinner is welcoming the new guests and saying goodbye to the guests leaving the next day with a song. These people were incredible singers-they sounded like a church choir! It felt so special.
There are very few times where I've wished we had a DSLR camera with us, but this night was one of them. The sky was clear, so you could see so many stars! This photo was taken with my phone-which I was pretty impressed with! There were so many stars out shining!
There were also "fun & games" every night after dinner, hosted by Alfred. He always had something different for us to do, from trivia, to music trivia, to charades (what Brennan is doing here), to a dance we learned while passing a maraca in a circle. They almost felt like camp games. It sounds silly when I'm writing it out, but these games brought everyone together and allowed us to get to know other guests. There was also live music every night, which was great.
On our last morning, I went to breakfast by myself and read while Brennan was a guest on a podcast! These pancakes were some of the best I have ever eaten.
I was really sad to leave this resort and the people we met there. As we were about to get on the ferry, our new friend Christian took this picture for me of everyone we met.
We took the ferry back to the main island and said our goodbyes. Everyone was headed their own way, and we were spending one night in Nadi before heading to New Zealand.
We spent one night at the Hilton Fiji Resort & Spa. We got there around 3pm and it was raining, so we didn't have a chance to check out much. Our room was like a small apartment, including a kitchen, living room, and washer and dryer. We ended up washing clothes, ordering pizza from the cafe and eating while watching an episode of Survivor.
I was able to walk around the resort when I got dinner and it looked very nice! There were several large pools, a kids club, and lots of restaurants and shops.
The sunset was beautiful and a perfect way to end our time in Fiji!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.