There are so many reasons to have a family holiday in Fiji I could talk about them endlessly. The friendly Fijians, safe environment, beautiful islands and coral reefs, wonderful food… But this trip, we had a look at the adventure activities on offer for our bursting-with-energy brood.
We’re staying at the Outrigger on the Lagoon, roughly two hours drive from Nadi airport (depending on your driver and the number of tractors on the road).
It’s a very pretty, sprawling resort with several different accommodation types surrounding a large lagoon-like pool and looking out onto the coral reef-enclosed actual lagoon.
We’re greeted at the gate by the friendliest security guards in the world with a resounding; “BULA!” (The Outrigger is famous for this greeting.)
The resort provides some great little touches that make the place special, such as, a personal butler for the duration of our stay, early evening champagne and canapés each day to watch the sunset with, a fresh bowl of fruit and soft drinks for the kids each day and complimentary sarongs.
There are several restaurants to choose from, ranging from casual poolside lunch at Baravi, sumptuous themed buffets at Vale Ni Kana and the award-winning Ivi restaurant – awarded Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Fiji.
Of course there are a heap of activities available at the resort for kids of all ages, from arts and crafts classes to hermit crab races and frog catching. For bigger kids there is pool volleyball, tennis and beach football.
There’s excellent snorkeling to be had directly off the beach and a dive shop that will take you further afield to nearby reefs for a scuba experience.
Across the road from the resort – a 5-minute walk or buggy ride (guess which option our kids choose) is the fabulous little wildlife sanctuary, Kula Eco Park. The park has a great collection of native Fijian birds and reptiles, including the critically endangered crested iguana.
But Kula Eco Park is not just there for the punters across the road in the resort. They run a breeding program for the crested iguana here in conjunction with Taronga Zoo in Sydney and an education program for villages throughout Fiji.
Iguanas and snakes are so rare in Fiji now that in fact most Fijians don’t realize they still exist. That’s where the park’s education program helps – to teach villagers that they need to help conserve these rare creatures and possibly more importantly – not to fear them.
You can help by sponsoring a school program – it costs F$20 per school and you are sent a report and photos of the school you have sponsored – it’s a great way to give back.
Absolute-must-do day trips include the Sigatoka River Safari and the Sigatoka Off road Cave Safari.
The Sigatoka River Safari takes you up Fiji’s longest river to one of 15 local villages. Along the way our guide shares local history, peppered with a bit of “bula-bullshit”.
The high-speed ride up-river is a great adrenaline rush and we all emerge at our destination with new hairstyles.
At the village, our chosen chief (one of my partner’s prouder moments) presents the village chief with a gift of kava and we all sit cross-legged as our induction into the village proceeds.
We all take our places for the kava ceremony, eager to play our parts well:
After which, we’re accepted into the village, there’s music and dancing with the women and children, a delicious traditional lunch and then it’s back down the river at high speed.
The Sigatoka Off-Road Cave Safari blends adrenaline and culture in a slightly different way.
We go off-road, through farm land and jungle to reasonably far-off limestone mountains to find a the Naihehe Cave, passing some spectacu;ar scenery along the way.
Before entering the cave we visit nearby Sautabu village to pay homage to the bêtes or family of high priests - traditional keepers of the cave (more kava).
After entering a small opening, the cave opens up into a series of large chambers and continues for abut 170 metres.
The cave was once a fortress for a cannibal tribe and still contains a cannibal oven, a ritual platform, the sacred priest chamber and other reminders of its cannibal history.
Top Tip: wear flip flops or at least shoes you don’t mind getting wet as you’ll be wading knee-deep in water in some parts.
And bring your swimmers for the next part of the trip – a run and jump into the nearby creek, after a lunch of sausage sandwiches. Awesome.
And the perfect way to end a day? A visit to Outrigger’s Bebe Spa. Located high on a hill behind the resort, the spa has magnificent views of the coastline and a peaceful ambience within its rather rarified air.
I opt for a one-hour Bebe massage, which starts with a “foot ritual” (much-needed foot scrub) and a relaxing pineapple-infused coconut oil massage that all but sends me to sleep.
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