Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fiji with kids.

We love Fiji. We haven't had the pleasure of staying on one of the islands yet, and that's a 'must-do' on our list for certain. However, we've stayed on the Coral Coast on Viti Levu twice, and enjoyed it thoroughly. There is nothing like being greeted by a warm toothy smile and a hearty 'bula!' The first time we stayed at the Warwick Fiji, the second at the sister resort The Naviti. Fiji is great for travelling with young children. It is very laid-back and absolutely safe. All inclusive packages are available at a lot of the resorts here too. We prefer that option - why worry? Keep in mind however, that the Coral Coast resorts lie about half way between Nadi and Suva, which means roughly 1 1/2 to 2 hours drive from Nadi airport. The only other thing, is that it really is a place of rest and relaxation. There is not a huge variety of tours and sites to see. But it's close to Australia, not too demanding and ideal for recharging the batteries. If you're after not much more than sun basking, swimming and cocktails in beautiful surrounds... Fiji is perfect!

The Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa. Date travelled: November 2010 with the twins.

The Warwick Fiji is all types of gorgeous. More expensive than its sister The Naviti, it's a smaller, more luxurious resort with a lovelier beach. Our personal opinion is that this resort is better for couples or those with either really little kids, or older teenagers. The pool is smaller and the grounds definitely so. Our children were only 3 here, so it suited us perfectly. Far less distances to walk, and the pool is right beside the restaurant etc. Also, our children weren't as active as those in the say 5-12 age group, so the smaller size of the pool wasn't an issue. This resort was Mummy and Daddy's favourite, as it's setting is just so picturesque.

Just looking at that photo makes me want to go back! The beach here was beautifully clean, and the water crystal clear. The sand although white, was pretty grainy and full of coral though, and pretty rough on the feet. We are spoilt for beaches us Aussies! But there is a reef break further out meaning that there is no waves, just beautiful calm turquoise water, which Fiji is famous for! It's just perfect for younger kids and snorkelling etc. Really, really lovely. Serious postcard material.

We purchased the drinks and meal 'all-inclusive' package here, which was a fairly expensive option I think. My recommendation is unless you are big, big drinkers (hey why not?) it's probably better value to just get the meal deal. We do give the wine a bit of a nudge (I'm sure we're not alone right?), but found that the complete package wasn't really great value. The drinks aren't cheap like Asia, but weren't unreasonable either. I think it was roughly $12 for a cocktail and $5 for a stubbie etc. The Meal Deal is definitely a good idea though. Not included in the package, but you can trade in to get a credit towards it, is 'The Wicked Walu' restaurant. During the day, it is a wonderful part of the scenery set on it's own little mini-island. At night, it is a really romantic place to dine over the water specialising in seafood dishes. Unmissable. Look at the sun setting behind it!

We did do a little tour here. Just past the resort border, on the beach, where locals selling a waterfall/ village tour package. There is warnings on a sign to say the resort would not be responsible for the safety etc of guests participating. We went with our kids and have to say the tour is good EXCEPT for one thing. We were actually told it wasn't far away, but it turned out to be an approx 1 hour or so walk through the jungle on a narrow path and over running streams and so on. Hardly suitable for 3 year-olds. To their credit however, once I rather vocally voiced my annoyance (to my hubby's eye-rolling as usual),  the locals hoisted my girls onto their shoulders (to squeals of delight) and off they went! They had no problem walking with the girls, while hubby and I slipped, slided and trudged our way along. It was the girls favourite part, and was fine by me. I WAS NOT carrying them myself over those perilous little bridges. The waterfall was great by the way, and we got some delicious fresh fruits for our efforts.

The tour also featured a Kava ceremony at a village, a visit to a school, and some history lessons on old customs and cannabalism. We really enjoyed the tour, and I always get some satisfaction from knowing the money goes straight into the pockets of the actual villagers too.

The Naviti. Date travelled: November 2012 with the 2 youngest kids.

Fairly cheap, and definitely cheerful - this is a firm family favourite with Aussies, and deservedly so. It is known for it's all-inclusive packages, and if a better all-round bargain for the quality can be found in Fiji, feel free to let me know. The food is buffet-style and I personally found it good and plentiful. I see some people whinge in reviews, but honestly, I'm not a stick-figure and my belly was groaning at the end of every day. Tasty, and lots of it, keeping in mind you aren't staying at a 5 star resort or paying those prices right? This is my pick for families. Slightly more 'tired' than the Warwick, but still great, and not out of place with the laid-back 'island' feel of Fiji. The rooms were bigger here too, which is good for families as well. We stayed before the recent fire, so part of the main building and kids club has been re-built since then.

The pool here is huge, and the grounds expansive. This time the kids were 5, so we really appreciated and needed the extra space to run around. The areas are certainly big enough that the energetic kids could run and splash, and us adults could still find a quiet spot. I did a visit to the Warwick while here (there is a shuttle bus that runs between the two, it takes about 10 minutes). After staying at The Naviti, I did feel I would have felt cramped at The Warwick this time round with older children. The Naviti also had a lot more activities and entertainment as well. There was great local cultural shows, bingo, hair braiding, glass-bottomed boats, fire-walking and fire-twirling. I really did love the pool and pool bar though. It made it for me.

The beach/lagoon area is not as stunning as The Warwick by no means however. It's very nice still, don't get me wrong. It's very calm, and with a man-made island off shore to play on. It's just not that unbelievable picturesque scene that greets you with its sister resort though. The water when we were there was nowhere near as clear, it wasn't that amazing shade of turquoise, and the sand was really orange and grainy. It does depend on what you prefer. I would stay at either again very happily. However with its massive pool and grounds, activities and great meal/drink package we thought The Naviti was the preferred option for us with the kids. Especially since you are free to use its sister Warwick Fiji's facilities and stunning beach anyway - via the short shuttle bus ride.

We did an absolutely fantastic tour from here. The best thing we have done in Fiji ever. A day trip to Robinson Crusoe Island. You take a boat ride down a river until you hit the open water, then the Island is not far from shore.

You are greeted by some fierce looking tribesman. I actually had to giggle here.

I think my tribesmen may/or may not have been Japanese? There is backpacker accommodations on the island, and I think they get roped in to help out... probably for beer or something haha! Anyway it was great.

The beach here was INCREDIBLE. Just AMAZING!

We also had a 'lovo' style buffet lunch and then treated to a cultural show. This show is regarded by many as the best in Fiji. It was the best I've seen on any of the Polynesian islands.

There was also plenty of activities to participate in...

 as well as plenty of hammocks swinging in the breeze to take a well-earned nap. Can I get an awwww?

Fiji is really great for families. Like I said before, the plane trip is short, the people friendly and the scenery beautiful. It's safe and hassle-free. The people really are warm, and you will think of them after leaving. Don't expect to be dazzled by an array of activities, but most people who love Fiji know that, and exerting themselves too much is far from their minds. Enjoy

Bula Vinaka!

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