We decided to do one formal shore excursion on our cruise through the South Pacific Islands. On Day 9 we were in Suva, Fiji and we purchased the “Countryside Drive and Fire Walking Spectacular” tour. At $99/adult, it didn’t break the bank, but still allowed us a long half-day off the cruise ship.
Our cruise ship parked at a commercial barge, as per usual in the South Pacific, and we could see some of the hopping downtown from the upper decks.
Fiji has a free bus system, but it comes without A/C or windows (hey, if you’re not going to have A/C, you certainly don’t want windows)!
Royal Caribbean pushes this Fire Walking tour a lot, and my guess is because they have almost unlimited capacity. There were many buses waiting to pick up the long line of cruisers who had booked the tour. Our tour guide was Tolly, a local who taught us about standard skirt-wearing in Fiji.
Better known as sarongs in Southeast Asia, the skirts are called “sulus” in Fiji, “lava-lavas” in Samoa, and “laplaps” in Papua New Guinea. The Fijian sulus are wrapped and tucked for women, but men’s are usually tailored to include a zipper and pockets. Very handy, Tolly assured us! Men also generally wear “bula” shirts (aka Hawaiian shirts), as you can see below.
The drive to our tour destination was about an hour of “countryside” driving. It was beautiful, and included fascinating observations of Fijian life…such as a funeral that we passed.
In reality, we had wanted to do river tour in Fiji that included a trip to a waterfall, but it was sold out (and more than twice the price). The tour goes up this river and into those mountains. I’m sure it would have been awesome!
I always love seeing the difference in housing styles from place to place.
In Fiji they build their wood homes on stilts.
Anyone who happened to be on the roadside when we passed eagerly waved to us as we drove by (this family began waving their hands wildly as soon as I took this photo)!
We arrived at “The Arts Village of Fiji,” where we were given about a half hour to roam the property and shops before our Fire Walking show began. Some musicians greeted us.
I loved the ponds surrounding the property.
The shops were mostly tourist-oriented clothing and carving shops. Jared and I almost convinced ourselves to buy some seriously cool (and inexpensive) wood mask carvings…before shaking our heads and remembering we don’t even own a home!
This fun carving below greets shoppers with a hearty “Bula”
It means anything from hello to goodbye, welcome, love, life, and more!
Soon, we were told the show would begin. We sat in a medium-sized outdoor amphitheater with a pond in front of it, and were given some orange soda which Ethan enjoyed for the duration of the show.
On the other side of the pond was the stage, and a narrator sat in the amphitheater and narrated the scenes. First, the men prepared the “fire.” Well, I’m not sure if there was ever a big active fire…or just hot coals. However, they covered a hot area in rocks and put some green leaves on them to smoke, to show us they were hot.
I found the fire walking itself to be quite anti-climactic…and I found myself wondering if those rocks were really all that hot, after all. Such a cynic!
Better than the actual fire walking was the tribal-like dancing that then followed. The men jumping high off the ground…
Warring over the women with funny little popsicle-like bobbing headpieces…
To see some of the awesome dancing/music, you can view this short video of the performance:
The show lasted perhaps an hour, and then we boarded the buses and took the same countryside drive back to the port. I’m not sure I would put a $99 price tag on the show itself, but I would gladly pay that for an opportunity to get out on a nice drive through such beautiful country. In fact, next time I would plan ahead and do the fun boat/waterfall tour, instead. That sounded amazing!
Meanwhile, we returned to the ship to eat a late lunch, and as our cruise ship was preparing to pull away a local Fijian marching band came to bid us goodbye on the dock!
Out in the waters the harbor was full of white fishing boats. We learned that the Japanese come to fish these local islands, specifically on the hunt for tuna.
Later in the evening we decided to brave the formal dining room in celebration of our 10th wedding Anniversary. Ten years ago I certainly wouldn’t have guessed where we’d be, or what we’d be doing with our lives now! But the very best part is–I married my very best friend who has joined me hand-in-hand and brought the world to my fingertips!
Thank you for a wonderful 10 years, my love!
I can’t think of a better place to spend it than in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with you and our awesome kids!