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Landing in Paradise

Our helicopter pilot took off from the helipad as we gazed out at the vast ocean ablaze with azure, turquoise and green.

This was our second take-off. Our first was with another couple from the states at Nadi International Airport helicopter terminal with our transport company Island Hoppers. The four of us marveled at the views as we lifted into the sky listening to the wings above us spinning. Our first landing was at the other couples’ resort. As the pilot brought us down, we gazed at the over-the-water thatched roof bungalows and saw a golf cart parked with a driver waiting for the resort’s next guests.

Once they disembarked, we were off. The pilot was a great storyteller and guide as we flew over more islands telling us about flora and fauna, pointing to islands off in the distance whose names we wouldn’t remember except for the one we were headed to- Waya Island, part of the Yasawa Islands. My husband and I just kept looking at each other and pointing in every direction at the endless stunning emerald green islands and endless azure water views.

As we started our descent and wove over the peaks of Waya Island toward our resort we could see our lush, hilly Fijian island was embraced with crystal clear waters and coral reefs. Our pilot told us we would be landing on the side of the mountain on an area cleared for the helipad.

Our adventure began not with a golf cart, rather 4 smiling Fijians waving at our helicopter as the helicopter hovered over the landing pad and then touched down. The doors flew open, and everyone was saying Bula, Bula as we climbed out. Three of the men, who I now call our Fijian sherpas, grabbed our bags out of the back of the helicopter, hoisted them on their shoulders and started down a fairly steep concrete steps toward what we could only assume was the resort. Bula! Our guide walking down to the resort with us just kept saying, “Take your time, watch your step, you’re on Fiji time now.”

As we emerged from the tropical forest that surrounded us, our view opened to what I can only describe as a postcard perfect tropical setting.

My husband and I had wanted to visit an island in the South Pacific for years. It was time for the tropical ocean trip to the South Pacific. I have a friend whose brother owns a home in Fiji and has worked in the fisheries and marine space there for 30 years. His advice to us, “If you want to experience the real Fiji, enjoy pristine snorkeling and reefs, try staying in smaller, more off the beaten path type resort.”

 With his ideas as a guide, we researched and ended up at the Octopus Resort, offering a setting that is woven into the landscape infused with Fijian cultural heritage, eco-conscience design, and offering a rare glimpse into the Village lifestyle of the people of the neighboring village of Nalauwaki which is the home to most of the resort staff.

From our oceanfront Bure complete with private outdoor bathroom, beach bed and lounge chairs to gourmet meals of fresh seafood to island curry, afternoon reef snorkeling right from the beach to learning about the rich culture of the Yasawa people, this destination exceeded our expectations and gave us what Franco and I cherish when we travel, to feel like visitors not tourists.

I will be writing more stories on Fiji throughout the month of April so visit or sign up on the site to receive updates on when I publish articles on travel, architecture, culture and real estate.


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