Recently my family and I went on a big adventure. Hubby and I decided to take our 6 year old daughter, 3 year old son and 6month old baby on holiday to Fiji for our wedding anniversary. A daunting task for us, a relatively un-travelled, home body type family.
I wanted to share our experience with other families considering taking the plunge but unsure about it all.
The first part of the journey involved getting our family of 5 to the airport (a 2 hour drive). We had a few options available. Hire a car, catch the train or take our own car and park it. Being money conscious, we opted for taking our own car and arranging parking. Now this seems simple enough until you consider the majority of the Sydney airport parking stations require a shuttle bus from parking to the airport, and with 3 kids in carseats, for us this meant leaving 1 parent with 3 kids at the airport alone for an indeterminate amount of time. Not Ideal to say the least! What I did find though was a parking company at Sydney airport that offer a valet service in your own car. They will meet you at the airport and take your car away to a secure carpark. Then when you arrive to come home, they bring your car. All for a very competitive price. (it actually worked out cheaper for us than park and fly) So I would like to give a shout out to Mascot Parking Services and Valet. They were fantastic for our little family.
So then onto our next leg of the journey. The flight! We chose to fly with Jet star and it was all pretty painless, if not a little squashy. The 2 bigger kids and dad sat in one row of seats and myself and bub had the seat across the aisle. All the kids were very well behaved. Bubba was breastfed and slept for a good part of the trip.
When we arrived at the airport in Fiji we discovered that all the things we had read about Fijians loving kids was true. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, especially with the kids (who were tired and over excited). We managed to find our way to our hotel for the night where the kids made friends with some university students who were staying at the same hotel on a uni break. These people LOVE kids, especially the little ones.
But the main part of our holiday was spent at Mana Island Resort. If you are looking for a place to spend quality time with your little ones swimming and building sandcastles on the beach, this is the place for you. No matter what the weather, there was always a beach that was calm and clean (there are 3 main beaches on the island). We spent most of our holiday with the kids (including Master 6 months) at the beach either paddling in the water with the fish or sitting on the beach while the kids played and built sandcastles and bubba had a snooze. And for the special occasion of our anniversary, the 2 big kids happily went to the kids club and bubba went to the creche where he slept under the watchful eye of his one on one devoted babysitter. In fact the kids happily (read: requested) went to the kids club several times and had a blast. Before we took this holiday, my biggest concern was what would I do with a baby who has just learned to pull himself around and does not want to sit still. We had a bad experience traveling in the past when master 3 was a baby and the place we stayed was just not baby friendly (even though it was spruiked as such). But Mana Island was beautiful. The beaches were clean and had lovely soft sand (no coral or nasty rocks to choke on) and the water was warm and clear. There were plenty of grassy areas he could explore and the whole island was stroller friendly. (not that we had nor needed a stroller)
The resort itself is a little tired but work was/is being carried out to restore some of it’s glory, and given the natural beauty of the place it is of little concern and hardly noticed. The staff are wonderful and very helpful, and kids are treated like mini superstars.
Another novelty was that right next door to the resort is a traditional village and a school that tourists are welcome to visit. With Miss 6 in year 1 at school, I thought it would be a good experience for her to see where these island kids go to school. It was an eye opening experience and the school students, teachers and headmaster were nothing but welcoming.
The trip home was the reverse of the one over. Very uneventful with the exception of very tired and slightly cranky kids waiting at the airport.
For anyone thinking of taking a young family to Fiji, I can highly recommend Mana Island Resort. I am sure there are plenty of other beautiful places to stay in Fiji and we will definitely be going back. My only issue now is how to decide whether to go back to Mana as it was so wonderful, or try somewhere different and risk disappointment. I’ll be looking out for reviews from other families in a similar vein to this over the next few years while we save for our next adventure.
Posted by alison20, 16th April 2014