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You, me and a different kind of Fiji

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You, me and a different kind of Fiji

story by: Anna Sarjeant

Where better to ignite romance than Fiji? The land of sunsets and spas, lazy Sundays and languid beach strolls. But if all of that’s a little obvious, how about one of these alternative date ideas?

1. Inland adventures
When most of us envisage Fiji, we dream of picture-perfect islands with platinum white sand and an ocean dotted with clown fish and coral. Which of course, is all very much available – in abundance. But step away from the beach and you’ll soon find a mountainous interior flushed with lush vegetation and fields of harvest. Cruise your way up the waterways of the Sigatoka River on-board a custom built jet boat as part of the popular Sigatoka River Safari, and en-route to remote Fijian villages, you’ll encounter fishermen and their helpers, children leaping from trees and locals waving enthusiastically as you pass. Once ashore, immerse yourself in the native customs of the real 'kaiviti' (Fijian people). Ceremonies of kava, singing and traditional danc-ing, followed by an authentic Fijian feast and the thud of the lali – an indigenous drum crafted entirely from wood. Back on the boat, your return journey mixes star¬ling views with 360 degree donut spins. How’s that for a thrill seeking adventure?

2. Fiji sunset dinner cruise
The sun sets everywhere, but perhaps nowhere quite as beautiful as Fiji. A startling palette of burnt orange, yellow and purple, if you’re going to soak up one of the country’s most dramatic vistas, it’s best done from a sultry, catamaran boat. With a cocktail in hand, as part of the renowned ‘Fiji Sunset Dinner Cruise’ you and your partner will depart Denarau Marina aboard the twin-deck MV City of Nadi, oper¬ated by Captain Cook Cruises. With the threat of a sinking sun hanging loosely as a backdrop, a three course barbecue is served to the musical notes of island ballads, dancing and entertainment. The staff are as warm as the last rays that beat down onto the deck, with hosts that will explain every detail about the stunning Mamanuca Islands, as you gently glide past. Tuck into a feast of local Fijian delicacies, from Ota and Miti (local spinach and coconut milk) to baked bananas in rich coconut cream, before watching the sun disappear and the night’s sky erupt into a blanket of stars. Three hours later, full of Fijian food and spirit, you will return to Denarau – possi¬bly already lulled to sleep by the soft rock of your boat.

3. Mystery flights
Fiji looks great from a beach hammock. Fiji looks great when you are snorkelling. Fiji looks great from both your hotel room and a luxury boat. But nowhere does Fiji look more spectacular than from the air. Imagine soaring above crystal-clear water dotted with tropical sanctuaries the colour of gemstones; miles of pristine coastline nudging at lush rainforest and verdant mountainside. The colours alone merge from a rich shade of jade all the way through to a bright flash of blue. “Breath taking” doesn’t seem to do any of it justice. Take flight with Pacific Island Air and we’ll let you coin your own adjective to describe Fiji from above. Opt for a helicop¬ter or seaplane and swoop over some of the amazing 300 (plus) isles that make up Fiji and the Mamanuca group of islands. Better still, pick the ‘Mystery Tour’ option. The mystery being, you won’t know where you’re going until you board.

4. Flavours of Fiji cooking classes
Imagine swapping your weekly spaghetti bolognaise for a big bowl of Kokoda. Or a spicy Okra Curry served with Ota Vaka Miti. These classic Fijian dishes are better described as ceviche (Fijian style, with white fish marinated in lime onion, tomato, chilli and coconut milk), an Indian curry and a Fijian varietal of spinach. Partake in a half day cooking class at Flavours of Fiji in Denarau and you’ll walk away with all the know-how to prepare your very own authentic Fijian dishes. Native Fijians are Melanesians, and Indo-Fijians have descendants from India, so your 7-8 course class will cover Fijian feasts, Indian thali and tropical desserts, with plenty of clever cooking tips revealed as you learn. Run by two bubbly friends in a purpose built (and air conditioned) warehouse, you’ll enjoy a three hour introduction into Fijian cuisine, complete with plenty of entertainment and laughter, and culminating in a delicious sit down dinner finale.

6. Snorkel with sharks
If you and your partner share an affinity for an adrenaline thrill, forgo snorkelling with starfish and head straight for the sharks. Forget cages and aquariums, this one’s about ducking your head beneath the water and coming face to face with a reef shark. Led by expert guides from South Sea Cruises, you’ll embrace the tropi¬cal waters of the South Pacific and join these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. Picked up from Nadi or Denarau, those with a daring nature can sail to Kuata Island on-board Fiji’s Yasawa Flyer. Having completed a beachfront brief¬ing, you’ll board a second boat and travel to the shark site. With congregations of up to six sharks, including both White Tip Reef Sharks and Black Tip Reef Sharks, it’s a bucket list achievement you’ll be telling the grandchildren about in decades to come. As graceful as they are striking, these beautiful predators will beguile you with their elegance, rather than their ‘menacing’ reputation. Which we should add, they are anything but.


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