Monday, October 29, 2018

Tropic of Capricorn Beach Resort (Wailoaloa, Nadi, Fiji)

Wailoaloa Beach has limited choice for accommodation in this area. But when transiting in Nadi, I'd rather be where the sea is. Nadi City wasn't a very pleasant option. Of course, I also considered a B and B in Martintar, but that didn't pan out. There were elements in the online reviews that turned me off. 

Meanwhile, Tropic of Capricorn had free airport pick up, two swimming pools, a decent wifi service and the South Pacific ocean. Like most accommodations in Fiji (outside luxury resorts), the standard of quality and facility isn't up to par with hotels elsewhere, particularly in Asia. With what you pay, you get less. This stay, for example, doesn't include breakfast for its price. This makes Fiji relatively more expensive for travelers. Fiji isn't for the backpackers on shoe-string budget.

Tropic of Capricorn has two buildings. At the back of the front desk/check-in counter, are a row of dorms. Then fronting the beach, you'll find a relatively newer 4-story building for standard, double and family rooms. I booked a double room with balcony and pool view. But what I got was an ocean view instead, at the 3rd floor of the building. I wasn't going to complain about that.

The staff are warm, friendly and go out of their way to introduce themselves, ask about you, and chat. They are a very curious lot. I got asked a lot about the teleseryes (mini-series) from my country. Even in my travels in Madagascar in Africa and in Vietnam, people are crazy over them. It wasn't a random question, I learned. Everywhere I went, Fijians are big fans of Pinoy mini-series.


Another characteristic about Fijians is their laidback demeanor. The concept of "rush" is almost alien to them. I had a scheduled 8 AM pick-up for one of my island visits. Despite the 6:30 AM opening time for Tropic's Bamboo Kitchen (Tropic Cafe), the waitress manning the bar wouldn't budge - and it was already 7:20 AM. It was frustrating, particularly because you see her raising her brows whenever I'd ask. You wanted to pluck her thick brows to remind her of the time. Wouldn't have minded if I didn't have a schedule to follow. Yachts and ferries from Denarau depart on time so the idea of my ferry leaving without me was unpalatable. Besides, I paid dearly for it.


I decided to go to Smuggler's Cove Resort, a multi-story hotel resort located next door. At that time, their restaurant was already a bustle of activity while Tropic's was still yawning languidly. To be honest, I had pangs of regret why I never considered Smuggler's Cove which is more tourist-friendly. They have a shop that offers items tourists need (mosquito coils, postcards and stamps, ref magnets, etc.) and they change foreign money to Fijian dollar, among other things. They have an ATM machine, and a restaurant that's open early til late. Furthermore, the hotel resort hosts nightly kava ceremonies with dancing and singing.

Tropic of Capricorn was fine by me. But there were services that could be improved - like following their breakfast schedule or changing it altogether so people won't rely on it. Their wifi is limited to one gadget, and has intermittent signal and poor connectivity. I had to re-connect several times. I booked my day tour to Castaway Island from their travel desk. 

One time, I inadvertently forgot my camera on a table at the lobby, and remembered about it while I was at the bus station in Nadi, on my way to Suva. I had to take a taxi back to look for it. It was scary, but the staff at the front desk kept it for me. So you see, you have a measure of security at the Tropic. They are trustworthy. I appreciate that.

As earlier mentioned, the beach resort boasts of two swimming pools. One is located in front, just a few steps from Wasa wasa Road. Thus, not a lot of guests use it. The other is in the midst of a flower garden, beside the newer building, which has more modern fixtures: glass panels, comfy interiors, and a shelf full of books. 

While the foyer has a modern design, my room upstairs has but a fresh coat of paint. Otherwise, it has seen better days. The "newer" building doesn't seem so new after all. My double room was cramped, with a rickety AC, a small ref, and a clean toilet with bathroom fixtures last seen in the Philippines in the 70's. There's the cringe factor as I use it. All in all, my little Fijian corner was acceptable.


Wailoaloa Beach is located west of Nadi. It is about 3.8 kilometers from Nadi City. Easiest is to take a taxi (about F$10-15) which takes 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, a commuter bus passes by Wasa wasa Road (no designated bus stop) every 30 minutes until about 6 PM daily except Sundays which is a rest day for most of Fiji. 

The commuter bus will drive around the area to pick up possible passengers (there's very few). In fact, I was the only passenger on my bus ride to Nadi  The ride is cheap, at just F$1, but you need to have a prepaid card which can only be bought from the airport or at the bus terminal in Nadi. It's best to load F$10 or F$15 for your card. You swipe it on a card reader beside the driver. The amount is deducted every time you use it. The card is a smart card that can be used in other buses going to Lautoka, Suva and other places, but not for taxis.

Is it possible to walk from Wailoaloa to Nadi City? Yes it is. But I would advise against it. The way to the city has areas with nothing but empty parcels of land; the houses few and far between. The place is sparsely populated. Some parts have no sidewalks. It would be crazy to walk from the city back to Wailoaloa after 5 PM when it starts to get dark because many areas aren't lit at night. It would be a risky adventure.

Receiving room at the newer building has a cozy and modern design.

There's a wifi room for those with limited wifi signal, and it has AC.

My room is at the 3rd floor, left. The ground floor with red walls is the dining room.

Tropic of Capricorn facade along Wasawasa Road. 

This is the first swimming pool, located infront of the check-in counter.

Front desk, check-in counter and Travel tropic, the hotel's travel desk, where you can book day excursions.

I forgot my camera on this table.

This is a good tutorial. Note that the letter "d" is pronounced "nd". thus Nadi is pronounced as "Nandi". 

Day trips from their travel desk. I booked my Castaway Island visit here.

To the newer building and the beach.

My room at the 3rd floor.

Bamboo Kitchen or Tropic Cafe. Supposedly open at 6 or 6:30 AM but the schedule is actually employee-dependent. The restaurant at the Smuggler's Cove next door is more reliable, if you're in a rush.

Restaurant tables

Wailoaloa Beach doesn't have black sands, but isn't white either. Despite its mediocre sand, this has a great sunset.

View from the 3rd floor side-veranda.

Bought a few stuff from the convenience store (mini-grocers) beside Grace Road Kitchen some 3 blocks from Wasawasa Road (below).

#tropicofcapricorn   #accommodation   #wailoaloabeach   #fiji   #nadi

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Fijian Tales - Of Wailoaloa Sunsets and Meeting Other Filipinos (Nadi)

Four hours was enough sleep for me. I felt recharged like it was a new day. It was 4 PM. I was going to recover within hours from my impending sore throat which, for me, was usually a prodrome for the flu. From my 3rd floor balcony, Wailoaloa Bay looked serene. 

The gentlest of breeze blew from the west while I took a walk on the beach. I'd sit on the sand and just gaze contentedly at the expanse of the Melanesian ocean. This needed to be taken in. There wasn't a dramatic changing of hues from the sky but the scenery was calming.

Kumustahan with Filipinos

Then I met 2 Filipinos taking a walk. I noticed they were eyeing me on their stroll. On their way back, I nodded and smiled which started the conversation. Teddy and Marlon work as aircondition specialists at an ongoing construction for a hotel and mall nearby. They told me they were recently at upscale Laucala in Taveuni where cottages cost US$6,000 a night for the cheapest rooms, contracted out for their services. They were flown to the resort and back to install airconditioners. 

The resort's owner is the Austrian big boss of Red Bull. Oprah Winfrey stays there whenever she's in Fiji. Actor Richard Gutierrez stayed there too. 

They also told me about the scarcity of chicken in Nadi, and Fiji in general. Fish is their staple source of meat due to the vast supply provided by the Pacific Ocean. In Fiji, it is fish and vegetables; root crops particularly like the kava, spinach, sweet potatoes, etc. 

Before Teddy and Marlon went back to "camp", they recommended Korean-run Grace Road Kitchen for their affordable and delicious meals. Grace Road is located inland, near the highway, about 4 blocks from Wasa wasa Road. I took note.

I waited for the last rays of the sun as they gradually faded. The sea turned from dark blue to black. Dusk in the bay is usually heralded by golden sunsets. It may not have gloriously immaculate fine white sands, but its sunsets are as majestic as they get.

Common room of Tropic of Capricorn Beach Resort. There's a pool (billiards) room too.

Wailoaloa is a coastal property in the airport city of Nadi. This map courtesy of Beautiful Holidays Fiji.

#fiji   #nadi   #southpacific   #vitilevu

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sundays in Wailoaloa Beach, Nadi, Viti Levu (Fiji Islands)

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.