On the morning of my arrival in Nadi, the airport town (now its newly minted 3rd city) of the Fiji Islands, I was blessed with a gloriously sunny Sunday. Fiji sleeps on its Sabbath day. Stores are shut and public transport rests. Nothing stirs, "not even a mouse". Between 7 and 11 AM, me and my luggage waited for a room to be vacated. Visiting Nadi Town, about 3.8 kilometers away, was out of the question. But there was a beach 800 meters long waiting to be explored - Wailoaloa Beach.
Wailoaloa Beach has about half a dozen beach properties open for flashpackers. It seems to be part of a bigger political subdivision called Newtown Beach facing Wailoaloa Bay. Compared to Southeast Asia, these beach resorts and hotels cost more for less in terms of facility and quality of service. The basic rooms command higher prices that don't include breakfast or internet. Fiji is more expensive in this sense. Tropic of Capricorn, my hotel, has good wifi. You can walk along Wasa wasa Road and get a signal from Tropic. But it is limited for one gadget and has unstable connectivity.
I stood at the lawn facing the beach. It dawned on me that I was at the far reaches of the South Pacific in Melanesia. The 13-hour flight has taken a toll on me. I knew I was coming up with the flu but it was a great morning. I refused to give in easily.
The best beaches of Fiji aren't found in the main island of Viti Levu but further off the coast in the Mamanucas and the Yasawas. Nadi is essential because it's the transit point. Even day trips to several islands can be booked from Nadi, then leave and return to Denarau Port some 15 minutes away by taxi.
World's Best Coconut
While strolling on the beach, an old man came up to me for a chat, and I thought, "How hospitable." "Where you from?" he asked. "Oh I love Philippines people. Yesterday, a Philippines man bought my coconut." I braced myself. He took me to a corner that made me a bit uneasy then started chopping a coconut. I wasn't hungry nor did I ask for a coconut. I just had breakfast.
"How much?" I asked. A buko juice wouldn't be too much, right? "It's very cheap," he remarked, which rang an alarm. Then he asked for F$20 (P507), and I said "no". My breakfast cost me F$15. This was F$20? My hotel only asks for F$4 for it, and it's served chilled with a miniature umbrella on it. After haggling, we shook hands with F$10 (P255) - which was still a hefty amount for a piece of coconut. But I knew this was strictly for charity. "Coconut from Fiji is the best coconut in the world," he declared with a smile. It wasn't; it was in fact sour. He profusely thanked me as I resumed my stroll. The rest of my stay, no one else offered me sour coconut juice, thankfully.
Aside from the half-dozen beach resorts bunched up close to each other, Wailoaloa doesn't have much to offer. There were no other cafes or parks. The residential houses were few and far between. There were stretches of land with nothing but grass. There's a volleyball net in front of Travellers Beach Resort. Further south, there's a construction that appears to be bigger and more luxurious than any of the establishments presently standing. If they're meant for tourists, this would encourage healthier competition and bring down prices of overpriced accommodation.
At 11 AM, I finally got my room at the 4-story building facing the ocean. The dorms were tucked away at the back. My room was small but I had a double bed with AC, a small ref, and a clean toilet with shower. The fixtures looked archaic, even for a developing country like the Philippines. My room was far from luxurious but would suffice. I struggled to get my luggage through a narrow stair, then malaise came all over me. I suddenly felt sick, like my whole body held back just until I found a bed to sleep on.
The next 4 hours, I was dead to the world. But I was in my South Pacific piece of paradise.
|Best coconut in the world?|
|Hello from the other side.|
|View from my room.|
|One of the two swimming pools in Tropic of Capricorn Beach Resort.|
|Wailoaloa is a 5 minute taxi ride and 10-15 minutes by bus to Nadi Town.|