Fiji Isles: Smiles of Savu Savu

Kids, Fiji

Memories of Fiji

This is a photo essay and a bit of musing on my first real travel experience. I was in my early 20s and had never been beyond the ‘western’ shores of New Zealand, where I grew up, and Australia.

One day I’ll go back to Fiji. Maybe I’ll stay in a resort and have a stereotypical Fiji holiday. My first trip there was the opposite of that. Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second largest island and the flight there from Nadi on a tiny Sunflower Airlines plane was bumpy and ‘exciting’.

Landing on the tiny airstrip at Savusavu while looking over the shoulder of the pilot was even more breathtaking. Savusavu is a centre for the sugar and copra industries and also draws sailors and divers. It’s a tumbleweed sort of a place as you can see from the main drag:
Savusavu, Fiji

Exploring further along the coast and into the interior I saw how real Fijians live and delighted in their welcoming cries of “Bula”!

climbing tree, Fiji

Village lads skipped up coconut trees to pick us fruit, which they quickly prepared for drinking with a machete.
Fishermen, Fiji

Looking back, this trip has impacted profoundly on all my subsequent travel.

Savusavu harbour, Fiji

Getting to know local people, understanding how few possessions are necessary for happiness, being excited about our beautiful, beautiful world…

School playing fields, Fiji

Learning how it is possible to relate to people who’s lives are so different to mine, and what a rich gift it is to receive their hospitality.

Vanuavao school, Fiji

Seeing how a country is more than just the photos in the travel brochures. I want to make the pages of the atlas real, not just see the sights. On further reflection, maybe I’ll never stay in a resort in Fiji. I think Vanua Levu has spoilt me for that.

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you been to Fiji? Do your holiday photos look anything like these?

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About Natasha von Geldern

Natasha von Geldern is the World Wandering Kiwi, a freelance travel writer, editor and inveterate traveller who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real one trip at a time.


  1. Posts like this make me wish I was an Aussie, where New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji were more within reach!
    Bret @ Green Global Travel recently posted..Caribbean & Latin American Art: History & Travel GuideMy Profile

    • Natasha von Geldern says:

      Or perhaps that you were a New Zealander, where Australia, Samoa and Fiji are within reach… a typical winter escape in fact 🙂

  2. It’s great that your first trip to Fiji was so culturally rich! Looks like you had a great time
    Brock – Backpack With Brock recently posted..Snapshot: Florence, Italy – My First Italian CityMy Profile

  3. Fiji has always been on my top list of places to visit, but it’s so far away from the U.S. If we ever do a RTW trip or if we make it to Australia, then I’m definitely going to plan a stop in Fiji. Great experience for you!
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Why the world’s largest, continuously running market left me unimpressedMy Profile

  4. I did not get nearly enough of these smiling photos when we were there!
    Andrea recently posted..Travel Memories: ParisMy Profile

  5. I have a hard time capturing people when I travel. But I think you’ve got the right idea here. People leave a big impact and a lasting impression. These smiles are a great memory to have of one of your first travel experienes.
    Sherry recently posted..Cortona in WatercolorMy Profile

  6. i dream … i would be there.. awesome post

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