Posts Tagged ‘Nadi’

I left you wandering in the beautiful orchid gardens of the sleeping giant just off the road between Nadi and Lautoka. But there is much more to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant than just orchids – much more. It’s a tranquil place to walk on a hot day. Unfortunately we did not see it all, partly because of time constraints – we had to get back to the ship for our next island hopping adventure – and partly because cyclone Evan had badly damaged the forest. Much of it was closed to the public for the time being. I’m sure it will be open again soon for those who wish to walk through the forest to the top of the hill for the fine views that I am promised are there.


P1130932  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The path we were able to walk was a board walk that led us down into a shady gully

where part of the jungle-like undergrowth had been cleared

to make a welcoming grassy patch.



P1050232  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Small gardens of  tropical ground cover plants edge some of the ‘lawn’ area.

This part of the gardens is sometimes used for weddings.

A wedding ‘chapel’ is on the hill above here.



P1050242  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

In the forest, some of the older trees were just magnificent,

held into the ground with formidable roots.



P1130927  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

At the base of the gully is a lush lily pond.



P1130929  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

And where there’s a lily pond, there are usually lilies!


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P1130929   ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

I love the structure of a lily.  One of nature’s beautiful sculptures.



P1050228  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Several beautiful red dragonflies made use of the lily leaf water pools.

Their gauzy wings are another delight of nature.



P1130939  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Water iris are another delight found beside this pool.



P1130936  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Nearby, there were tropical gingers in abundance.

I’ll leave you to enjoy them as we did.



P1130925  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels



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Thunbergia battiscombia  P1050223  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels



Thunbergia grandiflora  P1050245  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels



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Too soon it was time to wend our way back up the board walk towards the entrance.



P1130942  ©   JT  of  jtdytravels

On the way there was time to look back at the hills – and enjoy more orchids.



P1130960  ©   JT  of  jtdytravels



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P1130979  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Close to the entrance to the gardens is a delightful shaded ‘fern house’.



P1050249  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Palms.  Again, one of nature’s masterpieces of sculpture.



P1130968  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

A small water ‘rill’ had been diverted through the fern house.

The sound of gently running water gave authenticity to the fern forest feeling.



P1130971  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

In this area, dashes of red and gold lifted the predominant greens.



P1130969  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Shape and texture were also there to be enjoyed –

 if you took more than a cursory look.



P1130866  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Just outside the fern house, a few bananas were in flower.

Aren’t they superb?  Well worth a close look.


P1130975  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The entrance area is furnished with inviting, comfortable cane lounges.

Welcomed back with a cool drink, this is the place to rest awhile.



P1130858  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

Taxis arrived, and it was time to leave this delightful garden.



P1130982  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

It was time to drive back to Lautoka.

We were about to embark on another island hopping adventure.



P1140049  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

With some new passengers on board , we set sail for the Mamanuca Islands.

Arriving at a small coral cay,  we stopped to enjoy the late afternoon.

An hour of snorkelling was a great way to end  the day.



P1140056  ©  JT of jtdytravels

On the horizon, though, clouds began to gather.

This is the tropics and afternoon storms are very frequent – and to be expected.


Now join us as we sail through the warm tropical waters.

Ahead of us, an interesting three days as we explore the small archipelago of the Mamanuca Islands.



P1140049  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

With the Fijian flag flying in the breeze,

we are on board Captain Cook Fiji’s exploration ship, the MV ‘Reef Endeavour’.

Why not join her sometime for your own Fiji adventure!

Jennie and David

All photography ©  JT and DY of jtdytravels


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An adventure on the MV Reef Endeavour of Captain Cook Cruises Fiji was the real purpose of our trip to Fiji. Its home port is Denarau near Nadi – when the weather allows the ship to come into the port that is. It was a blustery, windy day for our departure and so ‘Reef Endeavour’ stayed off shore and we were taken out in a smaller vessel with a shallower draft.



P1130644  © JT of jtdytravels

While we were waiting, there were plenty of shops to look through and a few cafes provided lunch.

It’s a very pleasant small port.


P1130647 ©  JT of jtdytravels

New houses and apartments line the shoreline just beyond the breakwater that shelters the port.

This part of Fiji is becoming a popular place for people, particularly foreigners, to live.


P1130643  ©  JT of jtdytravels

It is a very different scene from the way most Fijians live –

especially those on the islands we were going to visit on this trip.


P1130656  ©  Jt of jtdytravels

A fast ferry, the Yasawan Flyer’, leaves the port daily to take people to resorts on the islands.


P1130660  ©  JT of jtdytravels

We would take much more time.

We would live on board our small ship, Reef Endeavour, for seven days.

First we had to rendezvous and transfer over from one ship to the other. Interesting!

The ‘Reef Endeavour’ is a small cruise ship (120 maximum passengers) which regularly does three, four and seven day cruises to the Yasawan and Mamanuca Islands and, once a month, does a seven day cruise to other northern islands.  The best months to travel to Fiji are the ‘dry’ season of May to August but any time is a good time! Check in to www.captaincook.com.fj to find out more.


P1140051  ©  JT of jtdytravels

I recommend this cruise highly but if you are thinking of doing it there are a few things you need to take into consideration.  You will have to climb outside stairs, often wet, and walk along outside decks to get to the rooms which have a door sill to step over. You will need to be able to get into and out of small boats that transfer passengers from ship to shore and to the snorkelling beaches. There are no jetties on these islands so all landings are wet landings which means you will get your feet wet as you get onto and off beaches. Medical help in these outer islands is all but non-existent so good health and a fair level of fitness will help you to make the most of this trip. Age is really no barrier but fitness is needed.


P1130669  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Rooms are simply furnished but comfortable.


P1140044  ©  JT of jtdytravels

The sun deck up top has plenty of space to enjoy the passing scenery.

When the weather is good, some meals are taken on this deck.

There are also two spa pools to enjoy.


P1140048   ©  JT of jtdytravels

The back sun deck looks down on the small pool which is at the lounge / dining level.


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There’s always time to relax in the pool!


P1140052  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Those who love to cruise the seas need to be aware that this cruise is not a luxury five star cruise with six or seven or more restaurants open 7/24 and all the extras of dance halls, theatres, bingo and massive swimming pools on board. Although there is a bar open much of the time and every passenger is well housed and well fed, this cruise is very different. This is an adventure, discovery cruise through the unspoilt waters of Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. Passengers enjoy dances, or local mekes, in small village halls on islands visited along the way as well as lovo meals cooked in the earth at the villages.

It’s a rather special experience because best of all, you get the opportunity to meet real Fijian people and their delightful children in their own small village environments set amongst fantastic scenery. The shops in these villages are ‘shell and craft’ markets where you can buy small souveneirs. And, for free, you can take home a kilo, or two, or three of genuine Fijian SMILES.


P1140082  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Although there’s a small swimming pool on board the ship, there’s another huge, warm swimming pool to enjoy – the warm Fijian sea with its reefs and fish and corals. The ship has a dive team to help with snorkelling and scuba diving and there’s a glass bottomed boat for those who just want to float.


P1040956  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

The ship is small enough to manoeuvre into small bays for snorkelling experiences.


P1130676  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Here we snorkelled opposite a small resort which was well hidden in the trees.


DSCF1296  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

These are not reefs with an abundance of large fish like some reefs we have visited in our travels. The locals here rely on the sea for their food but they don’t over fish the waters. They manage them well.


DSCF1314  ©  DY of jtdytravels

The water temperature was 31.5 – just delightful.

I felt so free being back in the water just enjoying the beauty of the under water world.

We stayed in as long as possible before the crew called us back –

time was up and the ship needed to move on.


DSCF1314  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

My only problem with the snorkelling was that I got pretty badly bitten by something – sea lice in the water or pesky little insects under some trees on a beach. Whatever they were, those bites were so itchy and of course that was the end of the swimming for me.  I must be juicy – I was the only one bitten!


P1140212  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Back on board we enjoyed the food prepared by our chef – and the music provided smiling Manus.


P1050376  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

After dinner, the crew entertained with various forms of Fijian dance and song.

And with all that fresh sea air and swimming, and the rocking of the ship, sleep came easily.

In the next episode, we’ll visit a village.


Take a look at the ship’s site on


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Come with us on an armchair ride to to Fiji – a great holiday destination especially for Australians and New Zealanders.  It’s also not too difficult to get to for those from USA and Canada. In March, we flew there from Sydney to Nadi on Air Pacific. Our first few days were spent enjoying time unwinding and relaxing at the Sheraton Hotel / Resort at Denarau, close to Nadi.

Sheraton Hotel, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji  P1130521

P1130521 © JT of jtdytravels

The Sheraton is a lovely resort spread out across many acres of gardens and lawns.


P1130630 © JT of jtdytravels

All guests here can use the pools and restaurants of three adjoining hotels, The Sheraton, Sheraton Villas (above) and the Westin.


P1130628 © JT of jtdytravels

A lily pond separates the Sheraton from the Sheraton Villas.


P1130627 © JT of jtdytravels

And of course, what would a lily pond be without waterlilies!


P1130519  © JT of jtdytravels

It’s a cash free environment across all three resorts, all charges being made back to your room. Breakfast is included with a wonderful choice of foods on offer.  Our room was one of the furthest from the dining room so we had a good walk to and from eating – and time to enjoy the gardens.


P1130514  © JT of jtdytravels

Much use is made in these gardens of the delicate spider lilies

Hymenocallis littoralis


P1130556  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This delightful flower was planted by our small patio.


P1130510  © JT of jtdytravels

These hotels are a great place for families to have a relaxing holiday. There’s a free kid’s club and plenty of wonderful Fijian ladies who will baby sit the littlest ones to give parents a break for an hour or two or three. Many family groups were of three generations with grandparents having time with their families in a relaxing environment. We really enjoyed seeing everyone having a good time and I didn’t see one grizzly kid the whole time we were there.

For those who want it, there’s an excellent golf course and tennis courts.  A thatch covered free ‘bula bus’ does a continual loop around this area of hotels and another more conventional bus will take you, for a small fee, to Nadi shopping area. You can use your ticket to ‘hop on hop off’ all day.  Yes it is hot – it’s tropical – but their are plenty of pools to cool down in.


P1130599  ©  JT of jtdytravels

 I found that a good book to read in a cool spot in the mid day heat was a good idea!   This was our small shaded patio.


P1130526  ©  JT of jtdytravels

There was always company around the patio from these tiny finches, not much bigger than a blade of grass.


P1040913  ©  DY of jtdytravels

These Fiji Parrot Finches move about quite quickly so it was a little difficult to get a sharp closeup shot, but David managed this one.


P1130640  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Mushrooms grew in the grass nearby. Edible? I don’t know but I don’t think so and I wouldn’t like to try.


P1130509  ©  JT of jtdytravels

The delightful small wedding chapel was close to our room but its not in operation at the moment.

Cyclone Evan blew away much of the thatch on the small side shade area.

Repairing rooms has been a higher priority for the management.


P1040915  ©  DY of jtdytravels

Whilst in Nadi, we had the opportunity to catch up with Siti, a most delightful young man who has been a part of my life for almost ten years.


P1130621  ©  DY of jtdytravels

It was amazing how cool Siti was whilst I sweltered in the mid day heat!

So how did this handsome young man come to be part of our lives?

In 2003, David and I visited the outer Yasawan islands in company with a group of Melbourne Rotarians. While they helped the village people on the island of Matacawa Levu to paint their church, I spent quite a bit of time in island schools and getting to know lots of the local children.

I soon came to realise that the children of these poor, far outer islands had very little chance of a good education beyond basic primary school. Most had never been to the main islands. They had never seen a car or traffic lights let alone had a secondary education. Their families survive on fishing and growing vegetables and coconuts. After discussion with the Rotary group, it was decided that we could set up an education program through Rotary to enable some of the brightest of these young people to have a secondary education on the main island. My Siti was the first of these young people and he has made the most of the opportunity that I was able to give him. He completed high school with flying colours. I then supported him through his tertiary education in IT. He’s now working in Lautoka and is a wonderful example of the power of education to change life chances. Other young students from the Yasawans have followed in his footsteps and are also gaining the benefits of an education.

Now come with me on my walks around Denarau – camera in hand of course.


P1130636  © JT of jtdytravels

In the pre-dawn, the view from the breakwater at the end of Denarau peninsular takes on a mystical aura.


P1130566  ©  JT of jtdytravels

There’s something very calming about the gentle ebb and flow of water on the beach in the early morning.


P1130557  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This beach was much wider and longer before Cyclone Evan washed much of it away in December 2012..


P1130567  ©  JT of jtdytravels

 Here was another photographic challenge.

Not only do these crabs disappear down their holes at the slightest movement, but they are almost transparent

and their camouflage against the sand is quite extraordinary.


P1130562  ©  JT of jtdytravels

I just love looking for abstract patterns on the beach.


P1130559  ©  JT of jtdytravels

And in the early morning there are lots of interesting footprints in the sand.


P1130639  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This is the tropics! Sometimes a quiet walk turns into a run for cover as a rain shower descends over the scene.


P1040917  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This rather ghoulish photo of a wasp attacking a caterpillar has an interesting story.  David and I were walking down to another resort late one afternoon when suddenly a caterpillar came swinging down to the ground on a long silken thread. Just as David drew my attention to it, this wasp wizzed in and attacked. It then proceeded to bite several holes in the poor old caterpillar in which, we guessed, to lay its eggs. Macabre!


P1130548  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Late in the day is a magical time here on Denarau. It’s much cooler and the sun setting over the sea is a ‘must watch’ event.


P1130553  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Each day the sunset scene is quite different, especially when viewed from different vantage points.


P1040882  ©  DY of jtdytravels

Finally the sun goes down and a tranquil air of cool and calm descends on the place. It is idyllic.

But we didn’t stay here for the whole of our time in Fiji.

The purpose of the trip was to cruise to the Yasawan and Mamanuca Islands.

We’ll start that adventure in the next episode.


All Photography © Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

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