Free Stopover in Fiji: A Conversation with Cathy Udovch
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to Fiji?
I happen to be a travel agent, so when I’m not traveling, I’m selling it or learning about it. I live in Southern California, and have all my life, but I really do like getting out to see other places that are as different as possible from where I live.
I went to Fiji more as a stopover on a trip to Australia. Fijian Airways allows for a stopover, so I did, and ended up doing a three day cruise around the Yasawa Island group, and then stayed two nights at a beach resort.
How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?
I was there for a total of five days. The three days on the Island cruise was spent with twice daily snorkeling off various islands, some inhabited, some not. We also stopped at a village to visit with the school children, and then later be hosted to a BBQ by the townsfolk, it was nice. The Fijian people are very friendly, always smiling and singing tends to happen rather often and spontaneously with them.
After the cruise, I spent two days at the Sofitel hotel in Denarau, which was beautiful. It was school holidays for families in Australia, so there were a lot of families, but it didn’t really interfere with my spa time any, and they had hammocks by the beach, perfection.
What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?
After spending the evening in the small village for the BBQ, we got back on the transport boat to a sailing vessel and the moon was just rising over the island mountain, and the sky was clear and full of stars. It was a lovely evening.
My only disappointment was not spending more time in Fiji, maybe on a small island resort, and taking that time to really unwind and disconnect. But Fiji is definitely the best place to do that, so I will just have to go back.
What do you wish you knew before you went?
To book a Beach Bure rather than a regular room in the resort. The Bures are a little bigger and are like private cottages, South Pacific style. I saw the various categories, but didn’t know what it was, now I do and that is what I’ll book next time I go.
Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/sites you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!
I really did love the Sofitel Denarau, they have lily ponds throughout the resort, and each evening they do a ‘farewell to the sun’ at sunset with a fire dance and lighting of the torches. It’s a really sweet ceremony, and then if you are lucky you can partake in a Kava ceremony, which will numb your mouth. It’s a local thing, but worth doing at least once.
Is there anything that women specifically should know before they travel to your destination?
Even though Fiji is in the tropics, the Fijian people are actually fairly modest and it is considered polite to cover up by wearing a long dress or skirt or pants. Luckily if you don’t pack much beside a swimsuit and shorts, you can easily buy some of their gorgeous long scarves which are perfect from wrapping around torso and waist. In fact, they expect this of the men too, so you will see men with nice shirts and wraparound skirts on. I forget what they call it when you do this, but they can be bought anywhere and make for lovely gifts back home. This doesn’t apply when you are actively at the beach, just if you go into any of the local villages for a visit.