So what did we get up to in our week at the Hilton?
Well most mornings the munchkin was up at the crack of dawn so we got to lay in our bed with her and watch the sun come up over the beach……..
Then it was off to our leisurely (and big breaky)! After that we generally waddled back to our room (or maybe that was just me) and got changed for a swim. As we had discovered on our last Queensland visit Astrid is a huge fan of the beach. The Hilton has quite a long beachfront. While the sand isn’t the pristine white of some beaches (it was decidedly grey and muddy) it was a lovely calm beach with barely a wave to be found and nice and shallow, so it was a toddlers delight and very picturesque in a variety of weather conditions!
The beach was rarely all that busy. There were lots of umbrellas and sun lounges scattered up and down the beach and down the end near our rooms it was rather quiet so we didn’t have to wander far from our room nor fight with any crowds!
On our first full day at the Hilton we decided to go for a very hot and sticky walk into Port Denarau to check out the food options, buy some supplies and generally have a look around. Denarau is extremely touristy and is just a mass of resorts all over the Island. Each resort has it’s own restaurants but the Port area has a decent shopping area and a good selection of restaurants. Even though it was only a $5 FJ cab ride into the Port we decided to walk. It was a pleasant walk, if a little hot! Lucky we took the ergo for Astrid as it was way too far for her to manage.
Once at the shops we had a look around. Found a chemist and attempted to obtain something to treat Astrid’s conjunctivitis. Seriously this child gets sick every time we go away! We checked out some souvenirs, but most importantly had a good look at the menus for all the restaurants in the Port and made sure we had a plan of what delicacies we were planning to consume each night. We also grabbed a heap of snacks and drinks as even at the tourist prices in the Port shops they were a fraction of the resort prices!
Astrid had been bugging us for a bucket and spade to play at the beach, and while we had plenty at home we didn’t bring them with us due to our tiny luggage restrictions for the Taveuni leg of the trip. We found a cheap bucket and spade set which made her the happiest toddler in Fiji. A bit hot and loaded up we caught a taxi back to the resort ready for an afternoon of beach and pool.
Most days we weren’t overly hungry at lunch time so just snacked on the bits and pieces we had pilfered from breakfast along with bread and cheese and other snacks we had bought from our shopping expeditions. A couple of days while Astrid was happily playing at the beach with Granny and Gramps, Anto and I went for a nice walk into the Port and got fresh bread for our lunches and explored other nearby resorts.
After Astrid’s daily nap we would either head to the beach or the pool in the afternoon. She generally had a ball with her newly acquired bucket and spade. The shallow water, and ample sand, plus the undivided attention of grandparents made for happy times!
We generally all left the beach totally filthy from the mud and sand but the water was a pleasant temperature (much warmer than on Taveuni) so we all enjoyed a wade and float around. We figured out the tides were better in the morning for the beach so it tended to be a morning activity and we headed to the pool in the afternoons.
Despite there being quite a lot of families at the resort we never had to fight for space at the pool as there were plenty to pick from. Pretty much all the kids were under school age and every second woman seemed to be pregnant so I wasn’t alone with my rapidly expanding belly. I think mine expanded from food more than baby while I was there though!
The pools were fairly shallow and fun to play in and still big enough to have a good swim around to stretch out. Astrid had a ball playing in the pools and the water was quite a nice temperature once you got in. There were always a heap of kiddy toys scattered through the pools to play with and lots of other kids so we didn’t have to try hard to entertain her.
The restaurant served poolside snacks and cocktails/drinks. They were a bit overpriced for our liking but we did succumb to icecream by the pool one day which was fun for all and a nice treat…….
The resort offered a number of complimentary non-motorised activities. Having had our fill of kayaking at Taveuni the only thing of interest was the hobie cats. Anto was keen to take one out but every time he asked there was an excuse not to let him do it, such as too much wind, not enough wind, the tide being out or some other random reason! Finally on the last day he got one out and had a good hour sailing about in the very limited breeze! Astrid enjoyed waving to dad.
The resort had a kids club which was quite well set up. Under 3 year olds had to be accompanied by an adult to attend but since Astrid won’t stay anywhere without a parent/grandparent this wasn’t an issue. The last couple of days she discovered the great array of toys they had inside and the good outdoor play equipment and she was happy to play there until Granny got sick of sitting with her! They did run lots of interesting activities but she wasn’t quite up to joining in with the other kids so was happy just to play with all their toys. The kids club seemed popular with the over 3’s and there were quite a lot of younger ones who were accompanied by the resort Nannies while their parents relaxed. Our child wasn’t having any of that though!
The grounds of the Hilton were very well maintained, with lots of grassy areas to run around, hammocks to laze in, sun beds and plenty of lovely tropical flowers.
So after our big days of beach, pool, kids club and generally lazing about we headed out for an early dinner each night. After the first nights enjoyable but expensive meal at the resort restaurant, the next three nights we caught a taxi into the Port Denarau shopping complex where there were plenty of good options. Anto had been hanging out for some more seafood and we spied a good looking seafood restaurant, Bonefish, so the second night we ate there. They had some decent vegetarian options for me and the other 3 had been eyeing off their seafood platters.
The Port was lovely and very lively at night and it was very pleasant sitting out on the decking area eating and drinking. I finally found some decent mocktails so had to give it a go (and Astrid was a fan of ‘mum’s milkshake’ too. They also did face painting for the littlies so she had her first ever face painting and loved it, especially looking at photos of her painted face! Then the huge seafood platter arrived (the photo doesn’t show the size of it) and apparently it was pretty good. Astrid is just as happy to eat any kind of fish as lobster so she didn’t starve either! We also had some awesome desserts but I think I must have missed getting photos of those.
The next night it was back to the Port and to an Indian/Asian restaurant, Indigo. While the menu was huge with lots of great options we settled for Indian (not wanting to mix our cuisines!) and the non-pregnant people got margaritas and beers while Astrid and I shared another mocktail. The meat eaters had chilli crab which apparently was very good and we had a few other vegie and meat dishes to go with it. We were stuffed to the eyeballs and couldn’t even contemplate dessert!
The next night Granny and Gramps took Astrid out for dinner so that Anto and I could have a night to ourselves. They all headed back to the same restaurant as the night before and this time had the Asian. Astrid apparently had a ball with lots to eat and a chocolate milkshake and she was safely asleep in her cot by the time we got back.
Anto and I headed next door to the Sofitel to their signature restaurant ‘V’. It was extremely nice, French/Asian fusion. Even the bread reminded us of being back in Paris and Anto had some nice seafood and I had a tofu dish and lovely dessert. It was a stormy night so we didn’t get to sit with the windows open looking out over the restaurant’s surrounding the pond but it was still very pleasant. I didn’t take the camera, so no pics but we did have a lovely relaxed evening and can definitely recommend the restaurant.
On our last night we decided to try the new Mexican restaurant ‘Mamacita’ at the Wyndham resort. Again it was only a shortish cab ride away and we headed out early to get the munchkin fed at a decent hour. We all like Mexican but sometimes it can be a bit boring, especially the vegetarian! This was great though. A huge menu, with a stack of interesting options we had trouble picking from. It was spicy, tasty and full of interesting vegies (and meat for the meat eaters) and huge! The other three had quite a few Margaritas to go with their dinner (which made it interesting for cards later that night). They had kids meals and Astrid got to colour in, then got her own chicken Quesidilla and icecream and had a ball. Despite being really full, it was our last night so we shared some dessert and headed back to our resort just as it was starting to get really busy.
Our last night we finished our card ‘tournament’ and some packing and all the random drinks and snacks we had accumulated and decided to get some sleep before our early start. Astrid was demonstrating how to sleep, using her toys as a pillow!
We had an early flight so were up early and sneaking around doing the last bit of packing before waking the sleeping munchkin. Once she was up she was very excitable and pretty much woke the whole resort. She was a bit sad to say goodbye to Granny and Gramps, who had gotten up early to see us depart even though they had a late afternoon flight! We made it to the airport in good time and commenced the boring bag check/customs/immigration procedures, with the usual annoyances from people who can’t line up and/or insist on pushing in.
Eventually we made it to the departure lounge and ate out of our ‘breakfast boxes’ the hotel had supplied in lieu of our included buffet breakfast. We didn’t starve but it wasn’t as nice as the very impressive buffet. Our flight boarded on time after yet another silly liquids check that held the boarding procedure up considerably. We had scored Fiji Airways much talked about new A330 and it was indeed very shiny and very new! We ended up in 2 seats in the middle 4, and the flight was packed so no spare room. At this point we commenced sitting on the tarmac for 40 minutes while the pilots stuffed around with a new engine starting procedure and then lost our take off slot so it was a long start to the flight. Once in the air we were told headwinds would delay us further and our 3h40min flight turned into 5 hours 30 mins! A long time to be stuck with a toddler on your lap……..
Nevertheless she was very well behaved and happily ate and then had a nap on me. It was a very long nap and my reduced lap space and a heavy child made it rather uncomfortable after a couple of hours. Lucky she is cute!!! Once she woke up Astrid happily watched some TV and everything was going well. On yet another flight packed with small children she was pretty much the only one not screeching for the whole flight. Just as we were descending she started looking a little green and promptly started puking. Used to her travel sickness we managed to catch most of it in a spare cookie bag and my lap and didn’t get a speck on the brand new seats (despite it being a lot of puke!!). As we were taxi-ing down the runway we even managed to get her stripped off, cleaned up and redressed in the spare clothes I had and made it off the plane at our turn, not bad when you are in row 5!
We had already been delayed enough in the air to have no hope of making our connecting flight so we headed to the nearest bathroom and Anto and I got changed since we copped a fair bit of puke too. This is the reason I always carry spare clothes for all of us, no matter how short the flight! We whizzed through duty free and transferred to the domestic terminal and had been rebooked on the next flight home. Everyone else from our Fiji plane had also missed the connecting Canberra flight so there were a few of us. Luckily we had a spare half an hour in Qantas club to refuel and give Astrid a play then it was time for our short flight home.
Of course the 2 people who were sitting next to us on the Fiji flight and had witnessed all the puke (and narrowly missed copping some) were also on our connecting flight. They tried their best to ignore us and were probably thanking their lucky stars they weren’t seated near us again. Travelling with toddlers is always a joy but we managed to make it all the way home without any further incident!
Back to the cold it was almost like we had never left but after a few goods nights sleep and a mountain of washing we are almost ready for our next big trip!