Fiji Islands, Melanesa
In July of 2010, Becky (my wife) and I, went on a vacation in the Fiji Islands. The Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesa, part of Oceana in the South Pacific Ocean about 2,000 km northeast of New Zealand.
When we arrived at the airport on the Viti Levu Island of the Fiji Islands, we were immediately driven to Denarau, Island. Denarau Island is a small private resort development on the western side of Viti Levu in the Republic of Fiji. The 2.55 km2 resort is accessed via a short causeway over a creek and is located 5 km north west of the town Nadi and 10 km west of Nadi International Airport.
Denarau is known for its hotels and resorts, with the 18-hole Denarau Golf course as its centrepiece.
The climate in Fiji is tropical marine and warm year round with minimal extremes.
Fiji’s main attractions for Becky and I were primarily the white sandy beaches and aesthetically pleasing islands with all-year-round tropical weather.
The majority of Fiji’s islands formed through volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Some geothermal activity still occurs today on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
After spending so much money for the air-flight to the Fiji Islands, we only had enough to book a small 3 hour tour to one of the small islands nearby. The island that we went to was similar to the Hollywood version of Gilligan’s Island. So, Becky and I called it Gilligan’s Island due to the 3 hour tour time slot.
Since our visit to Gilligan’s Island, (Mala Mala Island), it has turned into a single Island resort and tourist attraction. But in 2010, it was still in a natural state. This pristine island wilderness set on top of a coral reef teeming with exotic marine life.
Mala Mala, I was told later, was derived from a time when the island was used as a traditional healing center for local Fijians, sent here to be cured of ailments, most commonly problematic skin.
Mala Mala is a small island, nestled among the Mamanuca group of islands in Fiji, a volcanic archipelago lying to the west of tourist hub Nadi. It was here where Tom Hanks and his volley ball buddy Wilson washed up in “Castaway” and a popular choice for the “Survivor” franchise.
Mala Mala is just 2 hectares and perfectly round. It was surrounded by a spectacular reef and crystal clear waters. We were required to swim into and out of the island, to catch a boat.
Humans have lived in Fiji since the second millennium BC, (first Austronesians and later Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. Europeans first visited Fiji in the 17th century, and after a brief period of independent rule, the British established the “Colony of Fiji” in 1874. Fiji operated as a “Crown colony” until 1970, when it gained independence as the “Dominion of Fiji”.
During my travels around the world, I sometimes purchase local art work to give as gifts during Christmas. In the Fiji, I purchased a historical Cannibals Fork for my Father-in-law to hang on his wall.
It was carved from native hardwoods, the purchased cannibal fork was carefully shaped and decorated with intricate detailing. It was definitely a topic of conversation! Cannibal forks, or iculanibokola, were used by tribal attendants to feed the chiefs and tribal leaders during ritual feasts as these individuals were considered to be too holy to touch food. It was a cultural taboo for holy individuals to touch food with their own hands. Fiji has a cannibal past and during warrior ceremonies, the chiefs and tribal leaders participated in feasting on captured enemies. Due to the significance of these events, these forks were a way to show influence and power. The more decorated and elaborate, the higher status the owner of the fork had. Mine was very decorated and elaborate.