Getting into Fiji was nice and straight forward. Our luggage was off the carousel quickly and the only surprise is that once we had collected it was that we had to then take it to be scanned for any food products. Only then were we then officially allowed to enter what is considered to be the ‘World’s Friendliest Country’. And so, it proved to be with every single person we met or walked past saying ‘Bula’ to us.
It was about 6am when we headed out of the terminal to try to find my pre booked taxi person who was supposed to waiting holding a sign with our name on it. There were dozens of people holding other names but none holding ours. We went round and checked again but there was nothing remotely like our name being held aloft. So instead, we walked to the taxi rank where we agreed a fee to take us to the First Landings Beach resort for $10 less than I had agreed with on the original booking.
We were almost at the resort when the pre booked taxi company called me, not to apologise but to ask if I was still at the airport. I told them that as they were not where their email said they would be at the agreed time therefore we were just in a standard taxi instead.
It was about a 20-minute drive and we arrived at about 6.30am at what proved to be a charming but rustic resort. We knew that check in was not officially until 2pm but hope that they would be able to accommodate us. The only issue was that the only staff member working at that time was the night watchman who did his best until the reception staff arrived at 7am.
First Landings Beach Resort is a small family-owned concern with just 36 rooms of different types and size. It is so named as legend has it that it is the site where the first Fijians landed in 1500BC. They are also very proud of the fact that Prince Charles stayed here just before he went home and married Camilla. I am not sure the two things are connected. They have several pictures of his time here.
We had been recommended the resort by ‘Trailfinders’ when they were helping us put this trip together until I found I could book everything they suggested for over £4k less than they wanted to bill me for. I know for the extra I get their knowledge and experience plus they are on the hook if it anything goes wrong but we could and will have another couple of big trips with money saved.
The reception staff sent us into breakfast which also started at 7am whilst they waited for Housekeeping to start for the day. All the staff we met in the restaurant shook our hands as they introduced themselves and wanting to learn our names in return. We both ordered Eggs Benedict with a very welcome mug of tea. Unbeknown to us whilst sitting there the local wildlife in the form of mosquitoes took a real liking to having some new flesh to feast upon. What amazed us was that many of the bites we found from being next to the open windows, were through our clothes and not just on bare skin.
One of the porters came and found us in the restaurant and said they had readied a temporary room for us to use until our one booked one was cleaned. He took our bags for us. The room or ‘Bure’ was perfectly fine and we would have been happy staying here for the 4 nights.
We were both glad to get out of the clothes we seemed to have been wearing for a week and had a shower. We were both dog tired and decided to have a nap for a while. We dozed for about 2 hours before deciding to try out the pool. The water was pleasant and we almost had the area to ourselves.
Another porter then found us and told us our booked Bure was then ready and he came to help us move our bags. This Bure was much bigger and had a lovely enclosed porch overlooking the South Pacific. There were Polynesian flowers spread on the bed and it was all rather lovely. Pleasingly we had a kettle and fridge meaning we could make our own cuppas without having to pay for them all the time.
We unpacked and settled in before going for a short walk exploring the resort. Ellie had already informed us about a ‘Foot’ shaped island that she could see next to us whilst looking for us on ‘Find Friends’. We went over the walkway to it. You couldn’t tell it was either man made or foot shaped whilst on it. We did realise then why the restaurant was called Big Foot Grill.
We were given a welcome drink at the bar which was colourful but non-alcoholic. Even getting this involved many ‘Bula’s’ and much hand shaking with more introductions from the bar staff. As a race you can see why Rugby is the Fijian national sport as most of the men (and some of the women) are very large in stature. If any of them ran at me carrying an egg-shaped ball I would certainly just step out of their way. They do all seem like gentle giants though. I do hope that that sentence is not considered to be non ‘woke’ as it wasn’t intended to be.
After a short time sitting on our porch, we walked back to the bar to try out Happy Hour drinks menu. It was a good piece of advertising as some drinks turned out to be only £0.75 cheaper than any other time. Karen had a local Fiji Gold beer whilst I had an overflowing glass of Savvy B.
Whilst drinking this I started to hit the tiredness brick wall big time. I almost felt as if I was drifting in and out of consciousness. We decided to order some food at the restaurant to see if that would help. I went for the Chicken Caesar salad whilst Karen had the Fish & Chips. They were both more than acceptable and not too expensive. After watching the sun go down (sadly behind some clouds) we went back to our Bure. Karen watched ‘Call the Midwife’ using the VPN on iPlayer but I collapsed into bed just after 8pm. I took a melatonin and just hoped that I would not be wide awake again by midnight. I was asleep in seconds.