By Sam Z
We landed at Nadi Airport late afternoon on Friday the 13th. Yes I know, we flew on Friday the 13th but hey, it costed AU$550 (return) with Virgin Airways, so I can’t complain. We caught the first cab we saw to the Shangri-La Fijian Resort. It was about 28°C and kind of humid but so refreshing compared to the autumn we had just left behind in Victoria, Australia. The taxi driver was a friendly Fijian, who was politely interested in hearing our stories and sharing his own. The landscape was very tropical and ever so green. As we drove, you could see stalls by the side of the road selling fruit and barbecued meat. Witnessing the way the local people live in their villages and their homes, elevated above ground for when it floods, is a definite eye opener for anyone who has not visited a developing country. It took us an hour to reach Sigatoka, which was not bad for a cab fare of AU$60. The Shangri-La was on its own island and connected to the mainland by a bridge. We really couldn’t see much as the sun was setting so we caught a quick bite to eat at the Beach Bar & Grill at the resort and then went to bed.
The next morning we had breakfast at the resort’s buffet. They had everything from miso soup to a full English breakfast. It was a great start to the day. I would highly advise getting breakfast included as it is a lot cheaper and convenient than anything else. After breakfast we went to the beach. A photo speaks a thousand words so here’s a photo…
Nice yellow sand and crystal clear water. It’s just what you want on a holiday! We spent most of the day chilling out in the water and lazing around under the sun. But we did do some rowing and paddle boarding, at no additional cost. There was a pretty big list of water sports but I found them a bit pricey. However, I didn’t want to go away empty handed so we booked the inflatable sofa ride. This is where a speed boat pulls you around at high speed on an inflatable sofa that is attached by a rope to the back of the boat. You can adjust the speed by giving the driver the thumbs up for faster, thumbs down for slower and an OK hand signal to maintain. So it caters for thrill seekers or those who want a relaxing ride.
The food at the resort was pretty good. They offer nightly specials (pizzas, barbeque buffets, etc) for around AU$45 a head. The Beach Bar & Grill, which I previously mentioned, is always open and there is a fancier restaurant too. If you get tired of the resort-owned restaurants, as we did after a few days, you want to head over to Gecko’s Restaurant. It is just before you turn right into the Shangri-La hotel. The food is cheaper, tastier and they have a bigger selection. I recommend you call Gecko’s and they will organise to pick you up, as it is pretty far to walk by yourself.
After spending a few days at the Shangri-La it was time to move on to Denarau Island. We found a local taxi driver that drove us there for AU$40, which was pretty good considering it was about the same distance as the airport. The island was beautiful and was more developed than the previous one. There were shops, restaurants, sporting facilities, everything available. When we checked into Radisson Blu the process was so much easier than that of the Shangri-La, the staff at Radisson Blu seemed more aware and quick to respond (personal observation of course). Anyway, the rooms were amazing, plenty of space and very clean. The pool area was massive and subdivided into sections: kids, adults, chill out zone, sunset lounges, pool bar and volleyball. The only thing I noticed was that the beach was no where near as nice as the Shangri-La but I guess it is all about comprise. Wherever you stay in Denarau Island, you can use the other hotel pools, which was nice for a change.
Nearby is Port Denarau where you can catch boats to all the different islands. We went to Cloud 9, a bar in the middle of the ocean; about 40min sail from the port. They served wood fire pizzas, cocktails, beer and wine for pretty reasonable prices and the pizzas are massive (you may as well share one, they are that big). The crystal clear water here was the best we had seen so far, it was paradise!
In summary if you are a beach loving person that doesn’t mind average food and forking out that bit extra head to Shangri-La Fijian Resort. If you want a cheaper holiday, amazing food, more touristy things to do but not much of a beach, head to Denarau Island.
- Go during off-peak season when taxi companies and booking tours barter for the best price.
- Go during mid-April – early-Oct, unless you like rain every day.
- Only drink bottled water unless you want to make friends with the toilet.