FIJI: TUI TAI – The Trip of A Lifetime
Living aboard this Pirate ship in the middle of the South Pacific, the Tui Tai Fiji, really is the trip of a lifetime. Already having visited Fiji before, this time we were looking for something a bit different, an experience that would appeal to our adventurous side, we were looking for…. – the trip of a lifetime! We sure were handed just what we asked for and more, when we found the extraordinary Tui Tai Expedition of Fiji.
The Tui Tai is a complete Fiji adventure. A 5-7 night cruise includes hiking, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, visiting remote Fijian islands and villages, dining on the back deck listening to the sweet sounds of the Fijians’ song, and sailing the crystal clear oceans of the South Pacific. A jam-packed week it is, but we would not have traded one second. Every minute an encapturing moment that will last forever in my memory. The Tui Tai is operated and run in conjunction with Fiji Ecotourism, working with indigenous groups, showing support to the local communities, and dedicated to protecting and conserving Fiji’s natural environment. Featured as one of National Geographic’s best adventure travel trips on earth in 2009, we can see why!
We caught a domestic flight from Nadi airport to the tiny airport of Labasa, where we were picked up and driven 3 hours across the island to Buca Bay, where the great Tui Tai would pick us up from. Driving across the island with the wind in our hair, we watched as the tropical rainforest passed us by, full of banana trees, cordylines, crotons, and bright lush plant life, with mountains tumbling down the tropical landscape next to our ocean swept route. We arrived at Buca Bay at the end of a long windy dirt road, where the rainforest had got quite thick – We really were heading out on an adventure in the middle of nowhere! We stood on a rock ledge staring out into the ocean, when soon the ship appeared in the distance, and we watched as it came in. A little orange dingy shot out to get us, and soon we were to board the ship, which would be our home for the next 5 days.
Having just arrived on ship we were greeted with the (awesome) news that we would be upgraded to Premium Seadeck Suite (the best room available). Travelling in December, we discovered this was off-peak season, and of the 24 available spots on board, we were two of eight guests, being us, another couple, and one family from Holland. The eight of us being waited on by sixteen staff members who travelled and worked on board throughout the week. We had a tour of the ship, with a dining room downstairs, deck out the back, captain steering the ship from up the front, staff quarters down in the lower deck, and sunbaking area up on top deck. It really was a pirate ship no better way to describe it!
The Tui Tai sailed the seas, getting lost in paradise, faraway across the South Pacific Ocean. Each morning we’d awake to a new location. Being Scuba Divers, with full intention of experiencing the 14 dives on offer, our usual day began at 6am with cold breakfast, followed by a dive or snorkel then hot breakfast followed by another dive or snorkel then lunch then an activity, afternoon, or evening dive or snorkel followed by dinner, then visit to one of the local Fijian island villages.
The diving was out of this world – It felt just like we were swimming in one giant tropical fish tank, floating through the clear blue ocean! Soooo many fish and exquisite corals you would not believe! The Tui Tai visits plenty of dive sites including Fijian Rainbow Reefs, the Fish Factory, Black Beacon in Vanua Levu Islands, Matei Reef, and The Somosomo Strait near Taveuni island including the Great White Wall, which is known as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. Check out my Fiji Dive Diary’s – Tui Tai – The Trip of A Lifetime.
Our afternoon activities included lunch on Natewa Island, lazing around the sparkling saltwater lagoons, having a go at stand up paddleboarding, bushwalking/rainforest walking the volcanic island of Cobia (where Fijian cannibals used to eat their prisoners), kayaking around the mangroves in the middle of the Fijian ocean, hiking the rainforest, and visiting the massive waterfalls at the island of Taveuni. We visited local island villages each day, where the villagers would sing or dance, or have a Cava ceremony (the Fijian traditional welcome ceremony) We had the opportunity to interact with the locals, as well as offer our support to the communities by purchasing the local handicrafts, or donating to the village.
After action-packed days, our evenings were spent relaxing, sipping down fruity banana cocktails watching the sunset, or guzzling down delicious seafood menus which was served out on back deck under the starlit sky. Then drinking cava with the crew members, listening to them strum out glorious Fijian tunes on guitar, or finding a quiet spot on top deck to sit and watch the dark ocean as it swept by. It was so magical to watch, the lights of the boat reflecting off the water, fluorescent and bright as the wild ocean roared. It looked like a real life of Pi! Seeing the power of the ocean, and how alive and ferocious it looked at night. I was glad that our boat was a little bigger than Pi’s, and for a moment I was thankful that Pi had Richard Parker to keep him company!
Over 5 days and nights, we had seen what felt like more of Fiji, than any traveller ever would! The untouched, unseen and forever endless underwater haven of the tropical paradise they call Fiji. Tui Tai Fiji I salute you – This certainly was the Trip of a Lifetime!
Must Do’s on the Tui Tai:
As much diving or snorkelling as you can – This is absolutely unreal, and you will discover more marine life than ever before. Fiji is our very most favourite spot in the world to go diving!
Jump off the roof of the Tui Tai into the water – This is super fun and quite hilarious!
Visit the local villages
Swim in the freshwater swimming hole at the bottom of the waterfall at Taveuni
The entire experience – Its all a must do!
Check out their website here: www.tuitai.com
Anywhere from $1495 – $5663 + cost of dives, depending on how long you stay and which cabin you choose…
Diving on Tui Tai:
The Tui Tai is complete with its own Padi dive master’s aboard who are happy to take you out on each dive. The Tui Tai visits some of the top world dive sites, and the diving is unbelievable!
Any surprises on Tui Tai?:
If you get seasick – Be prepared! Bring seasick tablets. Take the seasick tablets before you go, even if you think there’s a small chance you might be seasick. It was quite smooth a lot of the time, but even after one rocky night you start feelin it!