Review of Navini Island Resort, Fiji

I did so much research online before my first trip to Fiji trying to wrap my mind around all of the options and their pluses/minuses. Since my stay was going to be so brief (only 3 days) as a stop-over on the way from San Diego to Sydney, I knew I wanted to stay somewhere near, if not on, the main island since my flight landed in Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu. I quickly ruled out a stay on the main island as its beaches were not what I had in mind for a paradise vacation, and focused my search on a smaller island not too far from the main island.

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My research led me to choose Navini Island Resort based on its small size (average 20 guests), easily accessible snorkeling (the entire island is surrounded by a coral reef), countless positive reviews on Tripadvisor (many saying they had stayed 20+ times, which is always a good sign), and relatively low cost for what you get. Nothing about the island was a disappointment, and I’ll never forget my days on that little piece of island paradise. Here is what you can expect if you decide to take my advice and stay at Navini for your next island vacation…

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When you land at Nadi airport, Henry will pick you up from the airport and drive you 20 minutes to the dock where you will board the Navini boat for the 30-minute ride to Navini Island. The entire island is surrounded by a coral reef, so if the tide is low and the boat can’t clear the reef, you will transfer to a small dinghy for the last 50 feet or so.

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As you get near the island, you will take off your shoes and socks in case your feet get wet when stepping from the dinghy to the dock – vacation officially begins when feet touch water! Several staff members will be waving and shouting “Bula!” from the dock to welcome you to the island. They will give you a tour of the island and walk you to your bure (cottage), and sometime later your bags will magically appear at your door.

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Every day, your room will be decorated with freshly picked hibiscus and frangipani (plumeria), but you probably won’t spend much time in your room because the hammock, beach lounger and ocean beckon.

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You will have 3 meals a day in the dining area with all of the other guests. During my stay, there were only about 12 guests each day, and full capacity is only 30, so you can get to know other guests at meal times or dine privately if you prefer. With over 30 staff members for our small group, we were well taken care of as you may imagine. Meals are customized to your preferences, and the staff easily accommodated my vegan diet, on several occasions surprising me with vegan ice cream or pancakes made specially for me!

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Your days will become a routine of lounging in the hammock between your bure and the ocean, chasing resident hermit crabs, napping in the beach lounge chairs under tiki umbrellas, scouring the shore for beautiful shells as they wash up at high tide, floating in the sparkling turquoise waters, and hunting for Nemo fish with your snorkel gear on. However you spend your days, there will be plenty, or nothing, to do – whichever you prefer.

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If you are worried about being bored on this 2.5-hectare pile of white sand, there is an abundance of water sports equipment available on the island (all included in the price) – paddleboards, kayaks, seacyles, hobie cats and a body board thingy with a window so you can “snorkel” without putting your face in the water. I tried them all! If you don’t know how to sail, one of the nice staff members will take you out for a lovely sail around the island on the hobie cat (tip: they will climb a tree and grab you a fresh coconut, too!).

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There is also a daily outing to a nearby village or reef for snorkeling, and a spirited game of beach volleyball at 4pm. After dinner, guests and staff congregate in the dining area to drink kava (a mildly sedative drink made from kava root) and play Vidi Vidi (a board game kind of like billiards played with small discs). Personally, I was so tired from chasing fishies with my snorkel fins on all day that I barely made it through dinner with eyes open.

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I learned so many things on my brief stay at Navini – I learned that hermit crabs come alive in the evenings, that you can swing yourself in a hammock if you lie across it diagonally and use your foot to push against the strap, that “paw paw” means papaya and Fiji’s are delicious, that “bula” means hello and “vinaka” means thank you in Fijian, that water really can look like turquoise even without an Instagram filter on it, and that Fiji has some of the warmest, kindest people on earth.

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Just a few practical tips: 1) if you check the weather for Nadi, Fiji before your trip, don’t fret that it shows rain every day – it rains in Nadi much more than it rains on Navini Island; 2) note any deals on the website for free transportation to and from the island and book your stay accordingly (stay 4 days, get 1 direction free; stay 7 days, get 2 directions free); 3) if you go snorkeling at the sand cay on one of the morning outings, ask the guy to drop you off at the edge of the reef so you don’t have to swim to it – when the tide is low, you are swimming dangerously close to the coral which can damage the coral and your knees (plus, it’s a long swim to the reef edge).

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(Photo by Steve Ford)

 

I hear it can rain on the island frequently, as in any tropical location, but during my stay, the only water drops were the tears from my eyes as I boarded the boat and waved goodbye to paradise. Vinaka, Navini, for the beautiful memories.

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The Best of Fremantle, Australia in One Day (Guest Post by Ines)

I couldn’t be more excited to share with you a guest post from this lovely blogger in Australia named Ines. She lives on the west coast of Australia in Perth and is sharing with us her tips on visiting the port city of Fremantle. Having just returned from a visit of just the east coast of Australia, I am so excited to visit the west coast someday, especially this cute little seaside town! You can also check out her gorgeous blog at Inesphere for more post on Australia and beyond.

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My first visit to Fremantle was back in 2011 during my trip to Western Australia. A few years later, I found myself living here and I’ve become a lot more familiar with how best to spend a day in Fremantle. Just 30 minutes from Perth’s city centre, Fremantle is one of the easiest cities in the world to explore. It’s rather easy to lose track of time while making your way through the Cappuccino Strip down to South Freo and back along the coast.  If a day is all you have, here are a few tips on how best to enjoy this buzzing port city.

 

Wander Around

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Before sitting down for a bite to eat or just after breakfast, explore the city through a self-guided walking trail. Start with the Capppuccino Strip and make your way around side streets down to the Esplanade Hotel and the Park where you can ride the Ferris Wheel for a bird’s eye view of the surrounding areas. From there, slowly make your way back to check out street art and murals and unique little shops. Visitors’ Centre in the heart of the city will have maps and often cafes will have copies of maps outlining shops and cafes.

Explore the Markets

esplanade hotelA must see when visiting Fremantle are the Markets open Friday through Sunday. Here you will find endless array of fruit, veg and food ranging from Spanish Paella to cupcakes and everything in between. It tends to get busy, so it’s best to visit early to avoid the crowds.

 

Visit the Hidden Cafes

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One of the best things about Fremantle is the eclectic mix of cafes and restaurants known for their unique style many having outdoor seating. Must try cafes include Yocal, Two Rubens, the Attic, Raw Kitchen, Chalkys and if you wander down to South Freo look out for Lenny the Ox, Di Bella Coffee Roasting House, and Ootong and Lincoln just to name a few. I have had many visits to  at each of these and can tell you they are gorgeous and serve delicious meals. Perhaps, have a breakfast at Yocal and a dairy and sugar free dessert at the Raw Kitchen.

 

Arvo at Little Creatures

little creaturesAfter exploring the shops, galleries and cafes, enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the Little Creatures Brewery. A chubby cupid with a bow is the symbol of this iconic Fremantle boutique brewery. They serve great drinks and food to match. It’s set on the waterfront and my go to place when having visitors.

 

Fishing Boat Harbour

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Just next door to Little Creatures is the Fishing Boat Harbour. Many come for fresh fish and chips, but I would recommend enjoying a cone of ice-cream while walking around the harbour snapping photos of big boats and then heading towards Bathers Beach and WA Maritime Museum.

 

Lounge on the Beach

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Outside the city centre, you will find gorgeous beaches and bike trails that lead to them. Two of my favorites are Port Beach and South Beach. In the summer, these are great places to cool off and unwind. For those with more time, taking a 30 min ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest Island is a must. The island is surrounded by beautiful beaches and shoreline ideal for diving and snorkeling.

How to Beat the Post-Vacation Blues

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Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but coming home from a really good vacation can put me into a funky mood for a few days, at best. The more your vacation shifts you away from your routine, disconnects you from the computer, or opens your eyes to a culture vastly different from your own, the harder it is to transition back into regular life. Here are a few things I do to help make the transition easier:

 

1. Continue the mindset of exploration

When traveling, you are constantly seeing new sights, walking down new streets, and trying new restaurants, etc. When you return home, rather than slipping into your old routine, use the momentum from vacation mode to try a new place or walk/drive a different way to work. This helps to keep up the excitement of discovering new things that you had while traveling.

 

2. Talk to people about their vacations

Friends always want to know about my vacations when I return home, but I also want to know about theirs. Hearing about their travels is exciting, and I make mental notes of places I may want to travel in the future. I especially love to hear about other cultures, and we can share our observations about the vast and various cultures of our beautiful world.

 

3. Bring the scent of your travels home

Scent is the most powerful of our senses related to memory, so I always buy a little something that smells like the place I visited. I just returned home from a trip to Fiji and Australia, and our resort in Fiji used this yummy coconut soap by Pure Fiji so I bought a few bars of it for myself at the airport. Whenever I use it now, it takes me right back to our little hut on the beach, showering sand off my legs.

 

4. Start planning your next adventure

This is really what helps me the most with my post-vacation blues. The day I returned home from Australia, I started reading a guide book about New Zealand. A trip to New Zealand may just be a daydream at this point, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start researching and planning for it. Planning a trip can take months to figure out exactly what sights you want to see, how long you will need in each location, etc., so why not start when you aren’t under a time constraint? Even if your next adventure is something small and local, having something to look forward to really takes the edge off the post-travel downer!

 

5. Connect the dots

If you made any friends while traveling, take a moment to send them an email or connect with them on social media so you can stay in touch. Send them a few photos of your trip, especially if you have any photos of them. I love seeing my friends’ status updates and photos on social media from all over the world. You never know when your paths might cross again in the future – you now have friends to visit the next time you travel to their area, in your hometown or somewhere unexpected!

What do you do to beat your post-vacation blues?