Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sun August 23 2015

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  • Nicole Connolly | August 23, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Embracing the Singular Serenity of Fiji

    Embracing the Singular Serenity of Fiji

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    What do you call a group of the most picturesque isles in the South Pacific? Well, if you said Fiji, then you nailed it. Some of the most beautiful landscapes and serene idyllic beaches are to be found in this cluster of islands, not to mention some fascinating cultural heritage.

    Most of the action happens on the main island of Viti Levu. It is host to the capital and has a couple of places you don't want to miss. For starters, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, which was created by the famed actor Raymond Burr, is a must-see. This is a garden sanctuary of sorts filled with beautiful orchids and serene ponds. It looks like something out of a movie, and is a great place for photo ops.

    While you're there, make sure to check out the Fiji Orchid Resort. They feature elegant hotel suites known as “bures.” These are essentially tents that have glass walls and a canvas roof. See nature up close and personal, without getting exposed to the elements. It is a beautiful way to unwind in the evening and the overall experience is indescribable. If you want to get a bit of city trekking in, you can do that too. The downtown district of Nadi is only about 15 minutes away.

    You should spend an entire day in downtown Nadi. While you're there, be sure to head over to its market. Open to the air, it features an amazing selection of traditional Fijian handiwork as well as souvenirs. Some great finds to be had are wooden kava bowls (more on this in a bit), cannibal forks, and hand-painted saris masks. Don't worry, the forks are merely a nod to the past, you are in no danger of becoming dinner.

    Also, since almost half of Fiji's population has some sort of Asian heritage, there are many beautiful temples devoted to various Eastern faiths. One of the most accessible and beautiful is the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple. This Hindu shrine is one of the most elaborately painted in the area. You can get a good feel for what life as a monk would be like. It's so peaceful and serene, you might think about becoming one yourself!

    Yet, of all things to do when you are in Nadi, a visit to the Curry House should be at the top of the list. This is a favorite for visitors as well as locals, and for good reason. They serve up fresh fish curry that is out of this world. That, coupled with the spiced roti, make a feast you will not soon forget.

    If you want to feel a bit more adventurous, then visit Beqa and take in a traditional fire walking ceremony. You will see an intense scene of local warriors chanting while traversing burning hot embers. If you need to cool down, then a short trip offshore is in order. Beqa plays host to over 100 spectacular dive sites. The underwater seascape in Fiji is a feast for your eyes as seahorses, vibrant coral and massive ribbon eels dance around you. It's well worth a look.

    Finally, make sure you find time to drink a little kava (told you I would get back to that). To do this, you have to trek over to the second-largest island in the group, Vanua Levu. Once you're there, you might notice that the hustle and bustle of souvenir life and diving excursions are few and far between. This island has a much more rural atmosphere and is one of the best places to see what a traditional village looks and feels like. That is where you can find your drink of kava. It is an ancient (very much adult) beverage that has been made the same way for thousands of years.

    While there, you will also be participating in a gift giving ceremony followed by a most unique traditional dance that is filled with wild grass skirted individuals. Vanua Levu is a great way to celebrate the culture and heritage of Fiji.

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Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
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