Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fiji Hideaway Weekend

Sigh....so my plans to get caught up were foiled....there is an odd illness floating around. It starts with leg pain (poor Clarissa we thought it was growing pains and gave her the ole suck it up buttercup) which is then followed by really high temperatures (104°F/40°C) for about 3 days followed by a lovely rash a couple days later. Doctors are not really sure how it is transmitted (CDC is starting to lean towards a possible mosquito vector I've heard), but symptoms can randomly pop up again for up to 6 weeks....so lots of sick days for Clarissa which means I don't get much done.....but hey, by the time she is grown she will have an immune system of steel! 

So within Suva, there isn't too terribly much to do. There are several movie theaters (which we frequent....and have seen nearly every kids movie that has been released recently!). The prices are much more affordable compared to going to movies in the US....we even splurge and go for the premium seats with foot rests and fancy coffee drink delivery! There is the vegetable market....but the kids don't get too exited about shopping for vegetables on the weekend...lol. There is also the handicraft market, but one can only have so many tiki masks (sorry Richard....). There is also the sea wall/water front park which gets pretty crowded evenings and weekends. Suva is a port city with mangroves trees.....so no pretty beaches like you picture when someone says Fiji. In order to get to a beach you have drive at least 45 minutes out of Suva up the coast....so it is not something you do every afternoon....but we are trying to head out of town once a month and when we do go, make it a weekend getaway. The first year or so here, we will probably try out a variety of resorts until we have a couple favorites which we will go to the most.....so without further ado, here is the first resort we went to....

Fiji Hideaway is located along the Coral Coast just before the town of Sigatoka. It was just under a two hour drive from Suva. The embassy had a VIP visit so Richard ended up having to work. The kids and I headed out mid-morning. It was grey and drizzling in Suva (just as it had been for the last couple weeks while I had been digging us out of boxes during their term break). About halfway along our drive the sun finally started to break through the clouds. Once we made it there and checked in, I don't know if it was the sunlight, escaping the car, or just seeing our ocean front bure view the kids were happy! (FYI - bures are historically Fijian wood and straw huts, in the modern tourism industry they are now synonymous with bungalows...they can be private but the ones in our price range have multiple units).

Our room seemed to be in an older bure (it looks like they are in the process of doing some renovations), but it was still nice. They even decorated our bed and bathroom with palm fronds and frangipani flowers.

Swimsuits were quickly donned to go play in the pool. The trails around the resort were quite pleasant to walk around with all the lush greenery and cute little tiki heads around.

The pool included a waterslide for the kids (it said ages 5-12 only....sigh no fun for us) and an island you swim out to and jump off of. During the day, the offer a lot of entertainment and games (we just ignored that and did our own thing). There is a deep section of the pool (likely for SCUBA training) that Mason loved diving in.

After the VIP left, Richard had a driver bring him up to the Hideaway (he was about 2 hours behind us....but had we waited you know he would have gotten delayed). So as he neared, I got the kiddos out of the pool and we headed out to the beach to walk back to our bure....

and daddy finally made it in time to explore at low tide!!

The sunset that first evening was essentially non existent due to the all the cloud cover that apparently Richard had brought with him....hee hee. We all got showered, had a tasty dinner, on our walk back we found lots of frogs and lizards, we noticed some of the clouds had begun to get blown off and there were so many more stars visible than in Suva (and way more than we have ever seen elsewhere)! We swung in the hammock and did a good bit of stargazing that evening.

At first, we didn't know what that yellow orb and blue background was when we looked out the window the next morning....lol it was bright and sunny! Yippee! Before heading to breakfast, I had some cuddle buddies in the hammock.

If you ask the kids what their favorite thing was that weekend, swinging in the hammock (band-aid needing injuries aside) will be the unanimous answer! After breakfast, since it was high tide, we quickly got on our snorkel gear to go explore the reef right in front of our bure!

We were hopefully that Clarissa would enjoy just looking with her googles underwater, but it was a tad too salty for her.....baby steps....she will hopefully be a mermaid before we leave Fiji. We ended up doing a little divide and conquer. Mason and I went out snorkeling with the GoPro, while Richard and Clarissa made a sand castle and picked up shells. Then Richard and I switched. Later, Mason and Clarissa went to the kids club for a bit and Richard and I snorkeled some more but the tide was going out and we didn't get too far. So the photos and video are from those three times. I don't think we did too shabby for our first underwater snorkel video. Watch out for the sea urchin, the three fish attacks on the camera, and the huge rock with a mass of anemones and tomato anemone fish (I circumnavigate the rock, at low tide, so it is super shallow and I am trying not to touch the coral and the video gets a tad shakey...I apologize but the coral comes first and the curious fish checking me out is pretty cool so I kept it in the video)!

Look at the tiny neon juvenile fish swimming in the coral!

Blue sea star! We saw a ton snorkeling.....that was an item on my Fiji Bucket List! So cool!!!

Four striped damselfish (Hambug dacylus)

Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus)

As I mentioned, we dropped the kids off at the Kids Club. They post a schedule everyday and we planned their drop off based on craft time (both love crafts). We were a little disappointed with the club. Mason & Clarissa happened to be the only two kids that day, so they didn't follow the schedule that day and just had them do coloring pages and watch a movie instead of the sea animal craft. This could be due to is was a Sunday and most people were checking out that day and other days they are better at following the schedule...idk. Richard and I did get a little bit of time to relax in the hammock, grab some lunch, snorkel again, and walk the shore (before I headed off for a massage...Richard got a massage while the kids had their lunch).

After my massage, it was low tide. This rock that Richard photographed in the morning was now fully exposed and you could walk all the way out to it from the beach without getting fully submerged (it only got about knee deep for me).

So the kids and I headed out there. Mason had seen the blue sea stars snorkeling, but Clarissa still had not seen any. So we were also on the look out for those. 

Which we successfully found! Score! There are some with 4 legs and some with 5 legs (and the ones with 4 legs don't appear to have lost a leg, they seem proportional). We did quickly put this sea star back in the water between/after taking its picture. We made it to the rock...Mason was smart and wore his crocs...Clarissa and I were barefoot. That did not stop her from quickly scaling up and over the rock.

After exploring we all got cleaned up for dinner...if you remember, we didn't look too shabby. The sunset was gorgeous that night (I started the post with a sunset photo and posted another here). The resort does a tiki lighting ceremony with Lali drums too. They light a torch on the island in the middle of the swimming pool.

After dinner, we told the kids we were going to have some mandatory fun even though they were tired and wanted to go to bed (mean parents letting them stay up late!). They had a show at one of the restaurants where they demonstrated the different dances from the different islands/villages. We caught the very end of that.

They then had everyone move outside for the main event! Fire dancing!! (not to be confused with the fire walkers....which we will need to go see as well while here in Fiji). Here are a few clips I put together. Once they saw the fire being twirled all around they "forgave" us for keeping them up late.

The next morning, we had hoped to do the glass bottom boat tour so Clarissa (and our first Fiji guest, Flat Stanley) could see the reef and all the fishes but there was some mechanical problems. They offered to take us out the next morning...but we were checking out (we told the next time....and there will be a next time!). So we just took a slow morning to enjoy this view

some more. The kids got some more hammock time and

Richard even kicked back and relaxed a bit!

Next time, we would like to plan the trip so that Richard and I can both dive....as I snorkeled and kicked down....I just wanted to stay down and not pop backed up to the surface. We saw so much snorkeling, I can only imagine how much more we will see diving. It was a great first weekend away, we liked the resort and its proximity to the reef (which was the main reason I picked this one when reading reviews online) and we plan to come back.

Lesson learned this first resort weekend....bring a new swimsuit for every day at the resort! You spend most of your time in your swim suit and it does not ever really dry out. 

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