Bula! Bula! Another amazing vacation has come to a close and this time we knew it had to be Fiji. After having heard about Fiji's spectacular marine ecosystems and biodiversity, we knew we had to dive there. And since we hadn't yet been to Melanesia and I've made it my life goal to see as much of the South Pacific as humanly possible, I was so excited to go! We stayed the first leg of our vacation on beautiful, remote Qamea Island at Qamea Resort & Spa, in Fiji's north islands. We stayed the second leg of our vacation at Likuliku Resort & Spa on Malolo Island in the Mamanuca Islands on Fiji's West side... see my Likuliku page here. "The jewel of Fiji's north islands," Qamea Island is quite small, but fantastically beautiful with its old growth rain forest, dramatic topography, warm surf, and champagne sand beaches. Here's a map of Fiji. Qamea Resort is nestled comfortably against a hillside facing a lovely lagoon packed with colorful fish and coral gardens. It was easily one of the best resorts we've ever visited. The grounds were amazing, for one thing... a mixture of enchanting tropical gardens and mossy old growth tropical hardwoods draped with luscious epiphytes. The ground was peppered with burrowing crab holes

which really intrigued me. The crabs were hard to come by but the whole island was teeming with life. The snorkeling was phenomenal, too! The first time we got in the water with our gear, we hadn't been in 2 minutes and there was a clownfish in its anemone! The dive staff are very protective of the house reef, which probably explains why it's in such amazing shape. Here's my video on Qamea Resort... just some lovely scenery. Everything about Qamea seemed to be given the utmost care. The service is that of a five star resort and the adorable, friendly people who work there practically make you feel like family. I've never felt more respected and cared for as a resort guest than I did at Qamea Resort & Spa. Our bure (pron. "boo-ray"), the Fijian equivalent of a bungalow, was really lovely. We stayed in the honeymoon villa which was nice because it had a sunken living room and this killer outdoor shower and spa tub hidden behind a stone wall. I just loved coming back from diving to shower myself and all our dive gear off outside in the tropical breeze. The dives were some of the best we've done, too! Actually, they were probably the best as far as biodiversity and number of fish and corals. Here are my dive videos, first and second.

We didn't see any sharks, though, but maybe next time. What it lacked in sharks, it more than made up for in stunning sea beds. I'd always heard Fiji was the 'soft corals capital of the world' and I sure got to marvel at the sheer number and variety of colors and shapes of soft coral. What an amazing place to enjoy some world-class diving. Fiji's soft corals and marine environments are an eco-enthusiast's Mecca. We dove in several different dive sites like the Swirling Coconut, Plantation Pinnacle, and the Purple Wall... they were all somewhat different from each other, making it even more intriguing. The Purple Wall was the most dazzling wall dive ever! I almost got swept away in the current but drift diving along the gigantic wall of swaying, purple soft corals was the stuff of dreams! Most if not all the dive sites are within ten minutes from the resort which is convenient because you don't have to spend much time on the boat. I don't enjoy dive boats. The dive staff at Qamea resort were also the best we've ever dove with besides Top Dive in Bora Bora and Moorea. They really reeducated us in the basics which was great since the last time we dove was 10 months ago. They made us relearn every aspect of setting up our gear and by the time we left Qamea I felt like a much better, more responsible diver.

Qamea Island was so lush, healthy, and full of cute surprises. What I didn't realize is that in addition to burrowing crabs, we would see lots of frogs just hanging out on the grass, especially in the evenings when it cooled off and also after it rained. It was so adorable, I'd stop along the path and glance over at the grass and there would be an entire frog get-together just sitting there... sometimes eight to ten of them. The little ones were small enough to sit on your thumb and the biggest ones were about the size of a grapefruit. We even found a big one sitting on our stairs. I loved it! The presence of frogs is always a good sign about the overall health of the environment, specifically, the water quality. We have lots of them at home on our property, too, so that makes me feel good.

One of my favorite experiences was our hike up to Bouma Falls on nearby Taveuni, an adjacent island. That was some of the prettiest coastline with pristine jungle, coconut palms, giant tree ferns, papaya trees pregnant with fruit, vines, flowering hibiscus and wild ginger as far as the eye could see.... it was incredible. There were two different waterfalls and both were breathtaking and magnificent. The second waterfall was really secluded so we had to hike a ways up and into the mountain. By the time we reached it, we were so sweaty it was a big relief to jump in and cool off. Some of the incline was practically vertical but the way they designed the hiking trail made it a lot less dangerous. The farther up we got, the more amazing the views were. Here's my favorite view that just took my breath away! We even saw a burrowing crab up there. The guide, Persey, found it and set it on a tree where it stood holding its claws out ready to fight. See it here. It was hilarious. The world's first arboreal crustacean. Actually, maybe not. There's an island in the South Pacific somewhere inhabited by giant 'coconut crabs' that eat coconuts. They're also called 'robber crabs' because they also prey on birds by stealing baby chicks from their nests.

You never know what bizarre and fantastic creations nature has already come up with... kinda like this mud skipper fish with arms that we saw in the swamp. It was wonderful to see Taveuni and I wish we could have spent more time there, just exploring more of the island. Like Qamea island, it was so lush and unspoiled. I sincerely hope it stays that way. Much to my delight, Fijians seem very protective of their environment both above and below sea level which is good since we ate lots fresh sea food at Qamea. The menu was simple but of excellent quality. At breakfast a staff person would come around and familiarize you with the day's available activities, some other news about Fiji and Qamea resort, and have you order the rest of your meals for the day. It was well organized without being rigid or annoying. Again, it always felt like someone really cared about providing you with exactly what you wanted and was going to make sure you felt comfortable. I learned to say "Bula!" a lot to greet people and "Vinaka!" to thank people. And we were thanking people right and

left. It was sweet. We had the privilege of visiting a small village on Qamea island accessible only by boat. It was just a short journey there. On the way, we passed through this absolutely beautiful mangrove forest and got off on the shore to walk up the bank to the village. We were given a tour of the village by a lovely woman named Sisi (pictured at the very top) with the children running and playing around us. We visited for a while, ate some refreshments they made for us, bought some handicrafts, danced a bit to their music (I'll never live that one down), and took a bunch of pictures. It was nice. I'd never seen a village quite like that before. Everybody was so kind. They sang so beautifully and they bent over backwards to make us feel welcome. Speaking of backs, my husband needed a back massage so we went to their heavenly spa to get one... and what a romantic walk into the jungle behind the resort to get there... it's a nature walk in itself filled with intrigue. Giant papayas, palms, swamp, and old growth hardwoods leaning over the pathway, elaborate bundles of epiphytes like chandeliers on the tree trunks... just wow. Some places seem put on this earth to make my garden look pathetic. Maybe I need to spice it up a bit with a lovely toilet garden accessory like the kid on the right over here. Yeah!

Fiji was such a gorgeous time. So much kindness, so much love, so much beauty, so much laughter. Such stunning biodiversity, so many fish, so many corals, such amazing diving! What more could we ask for? This trip was made even more memorable by the superb hospitality, kindness, humor, talent, and generosity of the Fijian people. The views from the flights and cruises we took to and from our destinations from Fiji's main island of Viti Levu were also amazing.... seeing all those remote tropical islands pass by. It's a lot of flying and boating to get there but once we were there, we felt so excited and intrigued! We will definitely be back to Fiji!

If you're interested in ways to help preserve coral reefs and ocean ecosystems, you can donate to the Project AWARE Foundation, a really great nonprofit organization that works to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. World Wildlife Fund is another great organization to give to as they do conservation work in all types of ecosystems. And if you're a shark lover like me, you may even be interested in adopting a shark! Taking action on any of these fronts will make a difference and it's a great thing to do, especially considering so many of earth's marine organisms are threatened by climate change, habitat destruction, industrial pollution and marine debris.

Thank you for taking the time to enjoy.... click any image to make it larger:

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Cancun   French Polynesia   Bahamas • Atlantis   Belize   Playa del Carmen   Honduras   Dominican Republic   Fiji • Likuliku   Hawai'i Maui

Grand Cayman   Grand Bahama   Wedding Bora Bora   Bora Bora '08   Moorea '10   Bora Bora '10   Yellowstone   Hawai'i • Big Island


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