The tides make a big difference in the south pacific

It looks like the high and low tides in both Australia, New Zealand and Fiji all made a huge difference in the coastal water lines. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in The States. At low tide the water retreats far out into the distance and in New Zealand we would often see the site below with Boats dry docked where the water was only hours ago.


In the Sunshine coast and Fijian beaches you could walk 100 meters out into the ocean at high tide and never get water above the chin. I’m not sure why the water lines stayed so shallow in the parts of the world but it was an interesting scene to witness.



We got engaged in Fiji. A nice start to our adventure ahead.

Unbeknownst to Jackie I had been lugging around an Engagement ring on the trip. On every flight and customs check I feared a botched security check would force me to expose the ring I was carrying. My concern almost drove me to propose before we left – but we were starting in Fiji and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it there. Lucky I made it to the hotel with no security checks. When we arrived at the hotel I hid the box in the back of the safe, covered it with the safe’s matting and other nicknacks Jackie would surely avoid.

It was hard finding the right oppertnity to do it. Not only was there a large box I’d have to conceal in my swim shorts, but we never really planned out any of our days and anything could happen. For example, if we went for a random swim I’d be in a tough situation to leave the ring on the beach or take it into the water. I chose neither. So it sat in that safe for 3 days.


Luckily the final day before we left was awesome. After an incredible day visiting an uninhabited island and snorkeling with schools of fish we set off to dinner.  Before we ordered I “forgot something” back in the room and went to get the ring. As I walked back I tried to conceal the massive square box bulging out of my pants pocket and did so quite successful to my surprise. We had an awesome meal and I asked Jackie if she wanted to take a picture on the smaller island connected by a bridge. (I had been mentioning I wanted to do this from day one to decrease any suspicion.)



As we walked across the bridge I once again awkwardly canceled the box bulge and we made our way to a nice spot underneath some lighted palm trees.


I had bought a stand for our camera that allowed me to velcro it around a tree or pole. I looked around for something to strap it to. The ruse was simple, we were on vacation, it was our last night in Fiji and I wanted to set up everything just right to take a great shot of us. It was taking me a while to setup and Jackie began getting a little fidgety. “What’s taking so long?” she said. I was actually setting the camera up to take video and not a picture, but thought the need to set up the camera to take a video of us standing on the island at night would be hard to explain. “Almost got it” I said. I caught Jackie on the video dancing by herself (to no music whatsoever) as she waited for me to finish. It was a nice addition to the reel. Once I was done I walked up, turned her to me and dropped a knee.


She said yes 😉


Our last day in Fiji


Fiji was an overall great experience. Between the views, islands, and water temp it was an amazing way to start our trip.

That being said there were a few – funny – things that happened on our final day there of note.

We were warned when coming to the hotel that there may be some bugs and if there was a problem we could call the front desk and the’d spray the room. So, mentally we were prepared for a few. Every Night before we went to bed there was a few ants on our pillows and we would brush them off. We never slept really well because it always felt like there were a few ants crawling on us in the night, but we thought it was all in our head. Every morning we’d find a few ants on the bed and just went with it. On our final night in the hotel we looked up and caught a few ants on the wooden rail above our head. On close inspection it turned out there there were thousands crawling across the rail right above the head of the bed. We ended up moving the bed to another location of the room. Morning when we were leaving we mentioned it to the worker there and showed him the mass amounts of ants. His response – no words just a “so what” shrug. We were on our way out so we didn’t care to persue.

The second thing that happened was far more agitating. When we arrived to the counter at the Nadi airport we placed our bags on the carousel to check in. The lady at the counter tapped some keys and said, “That will be $200 USD please.” Mind you we already paid for the tickets in advance. This was a charge to check bags on the plane. I was pretty upset as it was clear we were being fleeced. There is no airport in the world that charges $100 per bag that weighs less than 10K. She was persistent and honestly what could we do, pout until our plane left? After some complaints to management they said they would only charge us half if we wrapped our bags together (which cost another $10) and left begrudgingly.


Not a great note to end on for our trip in Fiji on, still makes me a bit upset to this day.

The king of the Kava ritual


Kava is a traditional drink of Fiji that has special sedative power and is used in daily social gatherings. Luckily for us, our hotel hosted a kava ceremony while we were there and we jumped at the opportunity to participate.


We were the first to arrive and struck up a conversation with the Wise, the host of the ceremony, while he was churning the kava filled bag in water. You can see his explanation of how the ceremony goes below.

Since I was the first one there I was bestowed the honor of being the Chief (I know I said King in the title – alliteration sounded better)  of the kava ceremony. With that, my responsibility was to make sure everyone clapped appropriately to ask for their drink and determine when it was time to give the group another round.

Kava tastes like – tingling, numbing, dirt. It isn’t pleasant but the effects on the mouth after pushing back a coconut filled cup of the stuff is an experience. You have to drink six or more cups of this stuff and even if you get past the taste the sheer quantity of liquid consumed is hard to swallow. Everyone did their best to keep up but it didn’t take long for people to back out, myself included.

I was hoping for a peaceful deep sleep as the kava promises, but neither I or Jackie got one. I don’t think it worked on us, but to each their own.

First stop Fiji. Amazing snorkeling with warm oceans and private beaches

The first stop on our trip was Fiji. We used our Virgin America points to fly for free to Los Angeles and then took a direct flight from LAX to NAN on Fiji Airways using The total cost for the flight was $547 each and took about 11.5 hours.


We arrived at 6AM and took a 20 min taxi to our hotel, First Landing Beach Resort. We stayed for 4 nights at about $74 per night. The hotel was quiet, the staff was friendly and the location was great.


After all the packing, moving and planning stresses it took to make this trip happen we promised one another that the beginning of our trip in Fiji would be low-impact. Our mission was to relax by the beach, read our Kindles and take it all in. We did a pretty good job at keeping to our mission for the first few days. 😉

One of the first things that excited us was the water temperature. The moment I dipped my toe in the near by ocean I couldn’t help but smile. It was bath water warm, and, after living in San Francisco for so long, I have yearned for a nice warm ocean experience for some time.

One thing you’ll notice when you get to Fiji is the lack of long beautiful beaches. I personally have always imagined Fiji to be full of them, but the ones on the mainland are mostly small, short and rough. At low tide the water is pretty shallow in most spots and the water line can be a bit far from shore.


There are magical beaches, though they live on the smaller islands surrounding the area. If you plan a trip to Fiji be sure to make time to tour the Islands. Per our promise to do very little while in Fiji we only chose to cruise to one island on one day. We are so glad we broke our promise to do so.


We took the Oolala cruise to Savala island from our hotel’s port for $100 per person. It was the highlight of our trip and totally worth it. On the way to the island we did some snorkeling.


We were so close to the fish we had a school swim up to us and eat out of our hands. You could feel the little nibbles on your fingertips. Imagine snorkeling in lukewarm water with a beautiful reef below and schools of fish surrounding you. It was a magical experience and ones we will never forget.


Next we hit the island for a BBQ and down time. Many of the islands around Fiji are extremely small and uninhabited, some only 100 meters long. Just being on a private island was an amazing experience. We kayaked and paddle boarded and laid out.


Oh no, the awesomeness of this day wasn’t over yet. We returned to our hotel to get dressed and make our way to dinner. We sat on the beach and ate pasta and pizza. Surprising note about Fiji, for some reason the pasta (and pizza)  is really quite good – don’t forget to order it if it’s on the menu. We had a great dish (that had a few different ingredients than listed. Island style I guess) and took a walk to the bridge where a separate tiny island was attached. Long story short, we got engaged that night in Fiji. Like I said it was a pretty awesome day 🙂





Touring the Fijian town of Lautoka

After a few days in the sun we both decided to check out the nearby town of Lautoka to change things up a bit. Luckily there was a bus stop right outside our hotel entrance that took us there. The bus was right on time and we were on our way.


Note, as much as people joke about “Fiji time”, which roughly translated means “don’t expect things to be done on time”, everything we did was quite punctual.


It was a 45 minute ride that took us by a flour factory (which is probably why the pasta in Fiji was so good), a school, a few stops and small villages before we arrived at the town’s bus terminal. It was not that pleasant. The bus terminal was congested and smelled of exhaust. Bad sign? Nah, we ventured off anyhow. Block after block we were hoping we’d find a bit of the town’s heart beat, but it was pretty much dead. No interesting restaurants or places to chill out. About 20 mins into our walk we headed back to the bus terminal and grabbed the next one out.