Friday, March 13, 2015

Assorted Fiji Reviews

My travel posts do pretty while on this blog so this week is all about my recent trip to Fiji. While the bulk of our time was spent on a small cruise ship, we did spend a few days on Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, where we stayed at a lovely hotel and as you'll read below, eat a couple of tasty meals. We also did one tour that I highly recommend.

V Restaurant @ The Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa
The best meal of my 12 nights in Fiji was served at this restaurant. I had the snapper, which was cooked just perfectly and served with the best cauliflower puree that I've ever had. My husband had the lamb, which was also cooked just to his liking and wonderfully presented.

While we didn't have any apps, we did split the chocolate tart, a rich and tasty dessert that I definitely recommend. The menu says that the tart contains kava but we couldn't taste any.

The portion sizes were quite generous and I can't imagine anyone leaving this restaurant hungry. Service was also superb though the atmosphere is a bit cold and formal. The price isn't cheap but it's not outrageous and I would have paid more for a similar meal in Toronto. We did make a reservation as we wanted to eat there on Valentine's Day however, the restaurant was maybe half full.

Flying Fish @ The Sheraton, Denarau Island
This outdoor restaurant is a great choice for dinner that's both casual and tasty. The sand floors add a fun, tropical touch and getting a table that lets you put your feet in it is a must (the sand in the restaurant is softer and nicer than the sand found on the beach).

My husband and I both went with the fresh fish option, which was mahi-mahi on the night we were there. I had it cooked in butter sauce and it was quite tasty though it wasn't anything spectacular. My husband had his cooked on a lava stone and covered in a coconut (lovo) sauce. We thought it would come out on an actual hot lava stone (we've seen fish prepared this way before in the South Pacific) but instead it was plated normally. The portion (200 grams I believe) was quite big and I wasn't able to finish it.

Prices are a bit high given the more casual atmosphere but not out of line with what you'd pay at other hotel restaurants. Service was quite friendly and pretty quick; this place wasn't on Fiji time. We were able to get a table without reservations or any wait though we were told that the tables lining the beach were all reserved. Thankfully the view of the ocean from the second row is just as lovely.

Westerzaif Tours' Orchid Gardens & Mud Bathes Tour
The mud baths, from Westerzaif Tours' website
We went on the 2pm tour  (there is also one that departs around 9am) that had us see the Hindu temple, the Tappoo tourist trinket store, a fruit and vegetable market, the orchid garden and the mud bathes. With the exception of the store (which was nicely air conditioned), every stop on our tour was quite interesting. Our guide, Junior, was fantastic and both he and Wasim (sp), the driver, were friendly and helpful. I wish all tour guides were like these two!

At the market, we learned about local fruits and vegetables and had the opportunity to try kava (try it, it's not that bad). The trip up to the orchids and the mud baths was a bit bumpy but nothing too intense. Nor was the walk in the gardens overly rigorous.

Pretty orchids, from Westerzaif Tours' website
The bulk of our time was spent at the mud baths. Do bring your camera; Wasim will happily take a picture of you covered in mud (make sure to apply just a thin layer). It was a fun though very low-key experience (it's literally in a farm field). I recommend taking advantage of the gardens' more modern washrooms before you visit the mud baths (they do have change rooms/bathrooms at the mud baths but there a bit more rustic).

Also, if possible, try to do the tour on a day that doesn't have a cruise ship in port. On the day we went, our small tour of five people were the only people at the baths, which made it a great experience. We were told though that on cruise ship days, the baths can be absolutely packed, which can't be pleasant.

Our brochure said that the tour would take roughly 3.5 hours but ours clocked in closer to 4.5 hours (though it felt much shorter). The brochure also says to wear strap sandals but we didn't find that to be necessary. Do make sure to bring a towel and maybe don't wear your favourite swim suite; the mud can be a bit tricky to get out.

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