Fiji. Is there another four letter word that smacks of pleasure more than this? For me those four letters stand for freedom. Freedom from balancing family, friends and work pressures. Escape from a life where there never seems to be enough time to do everything, let alone kick off my shoes, wriggle my toes in the sand, take a deep breath and relax. Relax? Who has time to relax? I don't know about you but I'm mostly too busy juggling a gazillion balls in the air to relax.
Except when I visit Fiji. Since the first time I laid eyes on her sandy shores twenty-odd years ago, Fiji constantly lures me back with her laid-back charisma. No matter her political dramas, and let's face it, Fijian politics is nothing if not theatrical, Fiji has charm in spades. That nonchalant Fijian way of life, coupled with year-round tropical temperatures are hard to resist. At one time I even considered purchasing property in Savusavu I was so enamoured with the country. That dream still lurks in the background like a long forgotten love affair waiting to be re-ignited.
Straddling a similar latitude to Cairns yet offering an exotic multi-cultural magic, I'm gradually working my way through the 300 or so islands dotted across the South Pacific Ocean. Taveuni Island remains a favourite and Laucala Island is quite extraordinary, but not all the votes are in. So many islands, so little time.
Infused with a balmy scent of frangipani and coconut oil, Fiji has a distinct aroma that has holiday written all over it. Wafting on the trade wind breeze it entices me onto island time before I've time to slip into a swimsuit and kaftan. Fiji also comes with its own distinct sounds. Swishing palm fronds overhead. Gently lapping waves washing over fragmented tinkling coral in the shallows. A tinny-sounding ukulele strung with fishing line accompanying melodious voices.
The ubiquitous Bula (Fijian greeting for hello) is my second favourite four letter word. No matter how many times I hear it, it still brings a grin to my face. It's one of those four letter words that is never spoken in anger, yet is most always accompanied by a smile. One of the loveliest four letter words you're ever likely to hear.
Tips for packing for a Fijian holiday
- Lay every item you think you'll need, separated into bottoms, tops and smalls. Then put half of it back in the wardrobe. Seriously. Use the extra space for a little holiday shopping!
- That goes for shoes too. Limit yourself to 3 pairs: comfy walking shoes (take a pair that can double as gym trainers if you're an exercise junkie), flats for daytime and wedges for evening.
- Rollup your clothes rather than folding for minimal creasing. And leave anything linen at home unless you're going for a crushed look – ironing is not a recommended holiday activity.
- Transfer your favourite toiletries into travel size bottles. Toothpaste, hairspray, deodorants and the like all come in travel sizes which take up less space and weight.
- Leave the hairdryer at home. Unless you're camping, you'll find one in your hotel bathroom.
- Take a book you've longed to read, for indulgent days on a shady sunlounge beside a swimming pool
Fiona Harper is a freelance travel writer specialising in travel boating and lifestyle genres. When not on the road checking out divine holiday destinations, she can usually be found bunkered down in a tropical location working on her next writing project.