“We are in Moana-land Mum!”, yells Ziggy, our 3 year old as he looks out the window of our airport transfer. We cruise along the sun-filled streets spotting coconut tree after glorious coconut tree, with a few stray cows, roadside pineapple stalls and two local kids riding bare-back on beautiful spotty horses – BULA! Welcome to Fiji!!!
We arrive at our hotel, Nanuku Auberge Resort, greeted by traditional Fijian Warriors beating drums, blowing a huge Conch shell and yes, you guessed it – fresh coconuts to quench our thirst!! Thank you paradise!
We have 6 glorious days here at Nanuku and plan to do all the things it has to offer, and most importantly, share this special time with our two mini Blondies, Marli (6) and Ziggy (3). The temperature is hot and muggy, just how any tropical holiday should be, so we spare no time in donning our swimmers and jumping into our very own private pool. To our surprise we find a special welcome message spelled out on the bottom of the pool in white stones, it says “BULA! The Blonde Nomads!”, it’s these small personal touches that make us feel super special and you cannot wipe the smiles from our happy faces.
Let the fun begin
It wasn’t long before our activity master or iTokani (in Fijian), helped us select some activities to enjoy during our stay. This gave us the perfect balance of relaxation, adventure and cultural experiences.
Speaking of culture, the kids spared no time making friends with their designated ‘Buddy’ (similar to a nanny) Siko, who then helped them participate in the nightly fire lighting ceremony. To our delight, just on sunset, two little Blonde warriors emerged dressed in traditional Fijian dress following the fierce men warriors. Taking their job very seriously they lit the cauldrons and carried the flame across the water. Standing statue-still on top of a bamboo raft, they carried the flame across the large resort pool, then made it back to dry land, ending the ceremony with a very loud BULA!! We of course watched in awe thinking how on earth did they get our wild 3 year old to do THAT!!! It sure is an experience we will always remember.
The next day Rob and I were excited for a romantic island getaway that we had booked just for us. We waved goodbye to the kids (who were too busy T-shirt painting and Zip-lining at the kids club to notice!) and headed out for an amazing day on the ocean. Nanuku Island is the resort’s own private slice of pristine paradise and only a short boat ride away from the mainland. We spent our day snorkelling the reef, looking for beach treasure and pretending we were actually shipwrecked! We enjoyed each other’s company, a picnic and taking a few perfect postcard shots for ‘the Gram’!
It was a magical day on the island but we did miss our mini Blondies and had some mummy/daddy guilt, so the next day we headed out together for a fun family adventure. For this tour we took a traditional ‘Longboat’ up the river in search of a magical waterfall. The kids loved waving to the locals fishing on the shoreline as well as walking through some sludgy mud as we made our way towards the falls. Following some recent rain the waterfall that our guide named ‘Nomad Falls’ was in full force, and it wasn’t long before we all jumped in and enjoyed a swim.
Stopping by the local market on the way home we showed the kids all the different types of produce and local vegetables like the Taro (the potato of the tropics), Plantains (bananas) and the sugarcane plant. Back home we whipped up a few local dishes at a hands-on cooking class which highlighted the ‘less is more’ theory for simple, fresh, traditional cuisine. Each recipe was based around the ‘tree of life’ the coconut, as we used different parts of the tree as our cooking tools and the shaved flesh and squeezed milk from the coconut to make our meal. It all tasted divine and was a huge highlight for us.
Immersed in cultural paradise
One of the options available at Nanuku is to go ‘Glamping’ on Nanuku Island. They take you and your family over on a boat, help you set up camp, build a fire and cook a traditional meal ?. It sounded so epic and right up our alley that we couldn’t turn it down. Unfortunately the weather was a tad unpredictable so being marooned on the island full of coconuts in a wind storm was not such a great idea so the resort set up the tent in our own beach front garden instead, giving us the best of both worlds. The kids LOVED playing ‘cubby’ and running around at night finding huge yellow toads – talk about a 5 Billion Star experience.
Basket weaving, kava ceremonies and mudcrabbing activities were to follow over the next couple of days, all of which gave us new insights into the rich Fijian culture that they still live by today. We also learnt about the mangrove and coral farming and propagation they do onsite that guests can also take part in which we loved, as giving back and nurturing the marine environment is important to us.
It’s safe to say that this Fijian adventure was no run of the mill ‘sit by the pool with a cocktail’ kind of holiday. With so much to see and do, we made the most of everyday, shared special moments as a family and watched with delight as the kids absorbed the magic of the Fijian culture. The experiences we shared is something no picture book or television show can replicate and the main reason why we love to travel so much.
‘Vinaka Vaka Levu’ – Thank you very much, these experiences will stay with us always, and until next time – BULA!
Watch our Fiji Delights video from our Fiji adventure:
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