BY DONNA PARKIN — It was a blend of culture, community tourism and South Pacific resort activities for Australian travel writers who joined me for a recent media visit to Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort (FOR) and Castaway Island, Fiji (FCI).
Journalists Claire Sutherland from News Corporation’s Escape magazine, Jenny Tabakoff from Australian Associated Press, Sarah Ferris from the online magazine She Said and Jessica Elder from the Gold Coast Bulletin were exposed to numerous cultural experiences including a traditional Fijian Sunday church service held by local villagers at Malevu Village.
We also visited FOR’s community tourism project at Conua School in the lush Sigatoka Valley where the resort is building a kindergarten to accommodate 30 children.
A kava ceremony is an essential part of any visit to a Fijian village, and the group all accepted the kava bowl, part of a traditional Fiji greeting.
With Kini Sarai, the resort’s activities manager as guide, we also visited historic Tavuni Hill Fort, colorful produce markets and Sigatoka District Hospital where FOR has been the driving force behind a number of upgrades and the construction of a new maternity ward.
Then there was just time for a visit to Kula Echo Park to view the breeding program for an endangered species of iguana before returning to the resort for some kayaking and snorkeling.
We headed to Castaway Island via South Sea Cruises, checked into our bures, and then sped off to neighboring Modriki Island, scene of the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, for a cooking demonstration and picnic lunch prepared by the island’s executive chef, Markus Nufer. Snorkeling in the crystal clear waters and hanging out with Wilson was just delightful.
Some of the writers participated in the early morning barefoot boxing class while later the group planted coral and inspected the resort’s coral planting program with the Mamanuca Environmental Society team.
The continuing emergence of Fiji’s culinary scene was not forgotten, and the writers enjoyed some outstanding culinary experiences showcasing local produce at FOR’s Ivi Restaurant and 1808 at Castaway.
It was a busy itinerary with numerous story angles for our media guests.
Are media famils (FAMs) all hard work? To be honest, not all of the time