South Seas paradise
Picture yourself in the South Pacific, snuggled away in your own private bure (thatched bungalow) on Viti Levu, one of the 333 sea islands of Fiji strung along the invisible line between local Melanesian and nearby Polynesian cultures.
Each island is a paradise of waterfalls and plunging mountains, fertile valleys, crystal waters lapping sugary beaches, and some of the friendliest folk on the planet.
A bit of background - Trouble in paradise
Fijian village of Navala in the Nausori Highlands. (Photo by Merbabu) Fiji used to have something of a bad rep. Maybe it had something to do with the island chain's old name, "Cannibal Islands" back in the days when Captain Bligh, freshly cast adrift by his mutinous crew on the Bounty, had to paddle double-time to outrun the natives 'war canoes as he threaded through these islands on his way to salvation.
Maybe it has to do with the regular coups (1987, 2000, 2006) that keep the government rewriting constitutions, swinging favoratism back and forth between the two largest population groups—native Melanesians (57%) and ethnic Indians (38%)—and flip-flopping between military and civilian control. (Currently, it is operating under a military regime.)
However, everyone on Fiji is pretty careful not to let this eternal internal strife spill over into the tourism sector, because tourism is by far one of the island nation's biggest industries (right up there with sugar exports).
Fijians welcome visitors with open arms, a shell lei, and a hearty "Bula!" greeting, which means "Health!"or "Life!"