Traveling Online - Take a Vacation Virtually Anytime - Logo 32K


The Islands of Fiji

Open field near Sawini Beach on the island of Viti Levu 32K  
A young boy in charge of the family cow takes a rest in an open field near Sawini Beach on the island of Viti Levu.>>>


I went out alone for a short walk before nightfall along Sawini Beach. The evening was quiet and the shore deserted. I watched a small boy in a nearby field minding the family cow. The child calmly walked along playing alone, quietly amusing himself. After a time, he moved the cow to another grazing spot coaxing the animal forward with a slender stick that was half again taller than the boy. I watched the languid child and his bovine charge until the Fijian sun slipped into tropical darkness.

That evening the neighboring farmers set fire to the sugar cane fields a few hundred meters away from where I was staying. The night sky glowed with roaring flames. The scene took on an eerie beauty, as I watched the fires rising in the darkness, a raging inferno under a silver full moon.

Fijian village 32K 
<<< This Fijian village is constructed of traditional bures, thatched-roof dwellings that are still used throughout the islands.

A view of a fertile farmland valley 32K 
A view of a fertile farmland valley near the town of Sigatoka, an
important agricultural area on the island of Viti Levu.>>>


A Fijian tribal elder had arranged a van and driver to take a group of us to the undeveloped interior of Viti Levu. The grey haired elder was a tall, friendly, self-effacing man in his early sixties.

We set off in the morning, twelve of us crammed into the back of a
ong-wheelbased Toyota van, and headed into the hills above Sigatoka. The paved highway ended a few kilometers outside of town. The main road that intersected the island deteriorated into a pot holed ribbon of dirt. Our bone-jarring ride continued through the highlands along the steep, deeply rutted roads. We banged around inside shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, rolling and jostling back and forth like a seesaw. It was a slow, hot, dusty adventure through the countryside.

The island interior was pristine, dotted with a few small settlements and yurt-like Fijian huts of the traditional bure villages. We slowly bounced along, occasionally stopping to take in panoramas of the green valleys and surrounding countryside. I was amazed at the natural beauty of the largely undeveloped interior highlands. The jagged mountains looked like a smaller version of the American Southwest, if you could imagine the desolate desert peaks and mesas incongruously draped in lush tropical growth.

Town market in Lautoka 32K

<<< Colorful produce and vendors at the town market near the coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island.


The crowded bus stopped adjacent to the outdoor market in Sigatoka with the driver's radio still blasting at full volume. The music during the hour and a half drive from Nadi was a great mix of local World Beat/African influenced music, Jamaican reggae, and contemporary rock and roll. I wandered through the central market in Sigatoka around the stalls of the open air market, buying fruit and vegetables from the Indian and Fijian vendors. It was a busy little bazaar filled with a pleasant mix of exotic sights, sounds, colors, and smells.

Stalls and tables were brimming with bright red tomatoes and peppers, yellow squash, pungent onions, garlic, and baskets of spices. The sweet smell of mangoes, papayas, bananas, and other colorful tropical fruits wafted through the air of the busy market. Fijian vendors sold souvenir trinkets, cassette tapes, clothing, and a bewildering variety of strange goods resembling some secular cargo cult.

Beach resort of Tubakula on Viti Levu's sunny south coast 32K
Swaying palm trees and blue skies frame the white sand beach resort of Tubakula on Viti Levu's sunny south coast.>>>


At Tubakula narrow paths led past A-framed bungalows with shaded porches that were sheltered under a canopy of coconut palms. Each of the shared two-story bungalows accommodated six people and featured a complete kitchen with all the amenities, a dining area with table and chairs, comfortable rattan chairs to lounge in, and a separate shower and toilet. There was a beautiful white sand beach twenty meters from the front door and a large pool located in the center of the complex. It was a vision of paradise for a modest $6 U.S. a night.

Deserted Fijian beach at twilight 32K 
<<< Not a single soul to be seen along this tranquil, deserted Fijian beach at twilight.



T R A V E L   M E N U
      M A I N   M E N U

Text and Photography by Paul Picus. Copyright © 1996-2008 Paul Picus

Copyright © 1996-2008 Gar Benedick, All Rights Reserved.