Fiji: Blue Lagoon Photo Shoot and Island Road Trip
by Max Shen
The trip to Fiji in December-January was a chance to visit a paradise, with the friendliest, most positive and proud people you could ever meet. Fijians, especially those living on the remotest islands, are kind, welcoming and warm. We were invited to no less than 3 kava ceremonies and enjoyed visiting a Yasawa village (at a social distance) with an elder, to see what their life is like.
Fijians can do so much with not a lot of wealth...45% of Fijians earn at or below the poverty line...and they managed to get through the shutdown of tourism during Covid by fishing, growing food, working low-paid sugar cane cutting, and even straight up bartering. They are resourceful, by necessity. The Fijians we talked with were very matter-of-fact about the hardships and hope for better times. They seem to know how to manage stress, doing life in "Fiji Time." It was a lesson in learning how to slow down and enjoy life more, and worry less about things you have no control over.
The Blue Lagoon is on Nanuya Lailai, a small island pretty far out along the Yasawa chain. The 1980 movie Blue Lagoon was filmed around here. We stayed at Nanuya Island Resort, an eco-resort that was simply gorgeous. Everyone calls you by name and takes an interest. It's a very different vibe from Los Angeles. Fiji had just reopened from quarantine, and it felt like we nearly had the entire stunning island to ourselves. We kayaked around to find the best spots to take the photos for Inundated.
Back on the main island Viti Levu, we had our first experience driving on the left side of the road, and circumnavigated the entire island. Most of the radio stations were playing epic 80's. UB40 is still big in Fiji, yes! We shared the road with horses, cows, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and of course people, all miraculously staying on the sides of the road. It is a tropical wonderland. We enjoyed stops to buy fruits and crafts, enjoying our time there. We were so thankful to do the photo shoot in Fiji, a very special South Pacific island nation that now has a lifelong place in our hearts.