When we travelled to Fiji two years ago, I knew in my heart that we would be back. The climate, the people – it really did feel like a home away from home. And we’ve returned from our latest trip to Fiji feeling exactly the same. We again fled the Canberra chill and headed to the warmth for a family holiday and are still on a post-holiday high.
We did things a little differently this time – having learned a few lessons from our last trip. And if I’m honest, we will probably do a few things differently next time too. Yes – I am 100% sure that we will return to Fiji again maybe the year after next.
This time we stayed at the Hilton Beach Resort – chosen because (1) it was closer to Nadi than the Coral Coast and (2) because we could book a 2-bedroom villa to fit our (now) larger family. Located on Denarau – a man-made island filled with resorts and fancy houses – it had everything we needed close by (although it did lack a little of the authenticity and charm of the Coral Coast).
Our week was filled with fun and adventure, but also a lot of downtime too. I’d generally take an early walk along the beach and down the tree-lined streets. We’d then enjoy a buffet breakfast, before heading to the pools where the girls had a great time splashing around. Soon it would be lunch time (and nap time for some), then the older girls wold inevitably ask to spend some time at Kids Club – which had a variety of activities on offer each day.
We also booked a Nanny for Maggie for a couple hours each day, and we’d have some time to go for a walk, grab a cocktail, head to the driving range or a combination of all three. Oh and the beachside massage was rather delightful!
I catered most dinners, having found a supermarket nearby. This worked wonderfully for the kids, and saved us a fair bit of money given the restaurant was quite pricey. We did, however, head to a Fijian themed dinner set up on the beach one night that was really special, and we also went out to dinner at Port Denarau (sans kids!) for a seafood feast another night.
A big highlight for us all was a village tour we booked. We travelled down to the Coral Coast, then took a jet boat (!) to a local village for the morning. We were welcomed warmly by the villagers, and after participating in a kava ceremony, were entertained with music and dancing. A scrumptious lunch was provided, and we felt so very lucky to share such a special day while learning about the history of the area and various local traditions. The ladies of the village loved having lots of Maggie cuddles (and she loved the attention!). I had to laugh though, as I had thought I’d booked a river cruise – not a jet boat adventure. The girls took it all in their stride – and Maggie even slept the entire speedy ride home – 360 degree turns and all!
The Hilton was a lovely resort – with a great kids program. As I mentioned, we booked a 2 bedroom villa which had plenty of room. The kids all bunked in together, and slept wonderfully. Our room was spacious, as was the bathroom, and the villa had a deck overlooking the beach.
Although it was described as having a full kitchen, our villa only really had a kitchenette. There was one saucepan, one hot plate, no frypan, a microwave and a fridge. This meant that my plans to self cater were somewhat limited – but with a little creativity we managed to keep everyone’s tummies full. We picked up groceries from a local supermarket and freshly baked bread from a nearby bakery, which meant that lunches and snacks, in particular, were easily catered for. It also meant we saved a lot of money (a litre of milk was FJ$9 at the resort – or FJ$2 at the supermarket!!). The market in Nadi was also great for picking up seasonal produce.
The Resort itself was quite different to the Warrick – where we stayed previously. It had great pools – of varying depths which was perfect for the kids. It didn’t offer the nightly entertainment that the Warrick did though (unless you booked into the theme dinner) so the girls definitely missed the evening ritual of lighting the torches and watching the dancing.
But, at the end of the day, it was a gorgeous resort – that was nice and accessible to the airport and a range of other amenities. Location wise – it was fantastic.
Before we knew it, it was time to repack our bags and make our way back to Australia. Feeling more relaxed, a little sun-kissed, and with a lot of new memories and friends having been made along the way.
Yes, Fiji, we will definitely be back.
Things we picked up along the way…
- We bought gifts to take for the kids at the village (pencils, paper etc) when we went into Nadi one morning. Next time I will definitely bring these over from Australia along with some kids clothes. I think it would have also been nice to give something to the ladies of the village.
- There is not a lot of baby food available – so if travelling with little ones still eating purees, I’d suggest bringing packets from home.
- Our villa was on the second floor. Next time I’d ask for a ground floor villa as the girls loved playing on the grass outside and this would have made for easier access.
- Definitely think about self-catering if you can (but check what amenities are actually offered so you can plan accordingly!) It was great to have lots of snacks, fruit, yoghurt etc on hand – for a fraction of the cost in the resort.
- We took a travel pram for Maggie, along with the Ergo, both of which came in really handy.