Now the sun is out, the water sparkling and the famous Bula smile is wide and welcoming, thereís more reason than ever to love Fiji, writes Sheriden Rhodes.
It hasnít taken long for the friendliest nation on earth to dust off, clean up
and welcome families back following the aftermath of Cyclone Winston.
Holidaymakers are already returning to the Pacific Island nation Ė some
literally on the first available flights over.
Australians, in particular, have had a long love affair with Fiji, enamored
by its clear, fish-filled waters, string of islands and balmy charm. Above
all, travellers fall for the warmth and generous spirit of what are surely
the friendliest people on earth; readily taking you and your children under
their wing to give you a trip of a lifetime. All the reasons to love Fiji
have survived, only now the welcome Ė if possible Ė is even warmer and the
gratitude from locals that you have returned to the beautiful islands they
call home more keenly felt.
The friendly locals
It doesnít matter whether youíre staying at a five-star resort or on a
rustic island with a Robinson Crusoe feel; the welcome youíll receive
is equally warm. For Fijians, family is everything, and the locals have
an instinctive way with children. Itís only natural for them to gather
kids Pied Piper-style to build castles in the sand, fish off the jetty
or kick a ball around. And boy can they laugh; it is simply impossible
not to smile when you hear a grown Fijian man or woman having a giggle,
so be prepared for their love of life to rub off on your entire family!
Kids club heaven
If mum and dad are in need of the three Rís Ė rest, relaxation and romance
Ė most Fijian resorts offer interactive kidsí clubs, so children and parents
can both make the most of their island getaway. Kidís clubs range from
onsite creative programmes Ė some even in the shade of beautiful mango trees
Ė through to programmes based outside in the natural surrounds Fiji is
famous for. Either way, you can expect professional, caring staff who will
ensure your child has plenty of new stories to tell come dinner time.
If your little one is too young for kidís clubs (most have a minimum age of
four), Fiji is also renowned for its fantastic nannies, typically mothers
themselves, who will feed, play and rock your child to sleep in a beachside
hammock like they would one of their own. While the kids enjoy crab hunts,
shell making, traditional Fijian dancing and craft, mum and dad can enjoy
a snorkel in Fijiís tropical waters, a massage in the spa or a cozy dinner
for two. Resorts famous for their nannies include the award-winning eco-resort
Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort,
the Outrigger Fiji and
Malolo Island Resort.
Although there are times when all you want to do is luxuriate in the bubble
of your beachside resort, immersing yourself in the gentle and friendly
culture of the Fijians is the best way to get a feel for island life. Paying
a visit to a local village is an eye-opening experience (and the perfect
place to pick up a souvenir), attending a torch lighting ceremony or watching
a traditional dance will have your kids moving to the music, and tasting
Fijian fare is a always a popular way to experience local life.
As one of the top family-friendly destinations on the planet, Fiji is geared
for adults and kids alike, so itís simply a matter of picking where on on
island you want to stay. The Coral Coast is laden with manicured resorts so
idyllic you wonít want to venture far from your not-so-humble abode; Denararu
Island boasts Fijiís signature sand, surf and sun; the smaller and more
laidback islands of Mamanuca and Yasawa will make you feel as though you have
stumbled upon a post-card perfect hidden paradise; and the coral of Northern
Fiji is a snorkelerís haven. Catering to all budgets, accommodation options
range from budget hotels and sprawling beachfront properties through to five
-star island resorts with all the trimmings.
In the words of Bartholomew Simpson, General Manager of Jean Michel Cousteau
Fiji Island Resort: ďFiji is ready to receive all guests with the same happy
hearts and big Bula smiles as before.Ē And itís true. Nowhere will you
receive a more enthusiastic greeting Ė the infectious bellow of ĎBula!í -
than at this tropical retreat just waiting to welcome you home.
Follow Tourism Fijiís Twitter page, twitter.com/TourismFiji, for updates on
Fiji following Cyclone Winston.