We didn't have time to really book anything in Fiji before getting here, so we ended up booking our Nadi hotel, Nomad SkyLodge, with the sister hostel Nomad Fat Camel we stayed at in Auckland
. The hotel rate wasn't bad and they provided free transport from the airport, so we felt OK arriving into Nadi without having made more plans. We arrived at the hotel around 5:30pm. The hotel was not bad - it wasn't beachfront but everything seemed pretty clean, and they gave us a free upgrade to a deluxe room (which still seemed standard-ish to us). There seemed to be lots of activities written down on the hotel's daily activity board. That night the hotel had frog racing planned, but due to the rain, the organizer said that she didn't feel like going out to collect the frogs in the rain! Since it was raining and there was really nothing in walking distance around the hotel, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant - and got pretty good Indian food!
One of the things we found interesting was the strong Indian presence in Fiji, due to the large number of immigrant workers that the British brought over from India over a hundred years ago. So there is an interesting mix of Indians and Fijians in the country. Just from casual observation in the short time we were there, there didn't seem to be much mixing between the two cultures given the long length of time the Indians have been in Fiji. Actually, even today there seemed to be still some tension between the two cultures, according to some locals and also written in our guide book. Many businesses in Nadi are Indian-run and there are a lot of Indian restaurants
. There was also a really colorful Hindi temple right in the heart of downtown Nadi. An Indian taxi driver told us that most people could speak 3-4 languages in Fiji: Hindi, their local Indian dialect, Fijian and English.
Our stay in Fiji was only a short 2 days, so sad! After reading some travel brochures, we really wanted to get to the Yasawa Islands, but the hotel travel agent said that the boat trip was 3-4 hours, and would be quite tiring for us to travel there. So she suggested an overnight trip to Mana Island, in the Mamanuca Island group, only a 45 min boat ride from Nadi on Viti Levu. The brochure for the Mana Lagoon hotel seemed to look OK, and there was an opportunity for a snorkeling trip, so we decided to go for it.
We got off the plane in Nadi after a quick 3 hour flight from Auckland. It was really hot, humid, and overcast with large storm clouds. Not a good sign. Fiji got hit by a cyclone just a few days before so we were worried about the state of things. But everything there seemed to be mostly OK. Our taxi driver told us that they had major flooding in Nadi, no power for 4 days, and some trees were blown down. There also were a lot of big potholes on the main road due to the flooding, so traffic was a little bad. The weather was still very rainy since the cyclone, and a local told us it was a lot more rain than normal even though this is the rainy season. Driving from the airport, Frank said the countryside reminded him a little bit of SE Asia... given the rural landscape and type of buildings around.