During the entire wedding blogging process, I’ve been hesitant to mention the honeymoon my husband and I were planning on the blog. I didn’t want it to seem like we were bragging or boasting for what we were intending, and I feel it’s a privilege to be able to afford this once in a life time trip, let alone a honeymoon at all after a wedding. But, after returning home, I can’t help by shout from the roof tops and tell everyone what an incredible experience we had. Plus, believe it or not we were able to score some incredible deals along the way, too.
Traveling is extremely important to my husband, Nick, and myself. We could afford a bigger house, fancier cars, and things that go with them, but we choose not to. We love going new places, having new experiences, meeting new people, and trying new foods. We would rather have this out of life, than material things. Together, we’ve traveled to 43 different states (I have 6 more to go while Nick has been to all 50!). While my travels have mainly been throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean, Nick has backpacked though Europe, toured Australia for a month, and has been on dive trips to remote Pacific islands most people have never heard of (He’s a certified tech diver and one of his favorite places is Truk Lagoon which is 700 miles off the coast of Guam). For our honeymoon we wanted to go someplace we’ve both never been before, someplace that would be quiet and relaxing, and someplace that when we woke up each morning we would be awed by its beauty. If Nick could fit in a dive trip, that would be an added bonus!
I left the honeymoon planning up to Nick. He had stumbled across the travel agency website, Unforgettable Honeymoons years ago and had always had a longing to go to one of the resorts in Fiji they recommend called Qamea Resort and Spa. When we booked our honeymoon, the Qamea was offering a 7 night stay for the price of 5. Some of the perks of booking though Unforgettable Honeymoons was that the owner, Rene, is friends with the owners of the Fijian resort and could offer perks other travel sites couldn’t. In addition to two free nights, our package also included all of our meals, 30 minute couples massages for the day of arrival, a bottle of champagne, a champagne breakfast, and a free excursion to the resort’s honeymoon beach (We were dropped off by boat on a private beach surounded by jungle with a picnic lunch, normally this ran $90 FJD per couple). Rene also advised us what would be the best time to book Fijian airefare for the best savings, and gave us detailed instructions on what to expect traveling to and from Qamea (including photos of our driver, Eddie, at the airport!). In addition, we were also advised what to pack with tips that included bring beach floatie mats (fantastic idea!) to gifts and small trinkets to had out to village children. She also prepped us on Fijian cultures and what to expect while visiting. No detail was too small and even included which bathrooms to use at which airport stops (some didn’t have modern facilities, which luckily we were prepared for).
Traveling to Qamea itself was an adventure! Our wedding took place on Sunday, May 25th. We opted to have a day at home unwinding with friends and family who were still in town on Monday (Memorial Day). We woke up at 12:30am EST Tuesday morning to begin driving to Chicago from Michigan for a 6am CST flight (It’s roughly a 3 hour drive to O’hare airport from Kalamazoo Michigan). From Chicago we flew into Los Angeles, arriving at 8:30am PST. Our flight to Fiji wouldn’t be 10:30pm that evening, so we used Nick’s rental car discount from work to get a car for sightseeing that day. In LA, we visited the Hollywood walk of fame, the planetarium, window shopped on Rodeo Drive, and saw the Chinese Theater (All free attractions). We crossed a few food stops off our list, too. Since I had been wearing a “Just Married” tank that day, the diner we had breakfast at gave us one free meal, and a cupcake!
Landing in Fiji we arrived in the city of Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu. From there we took smaller flights to the islands of Savusavu, then Tavuni. Once in Tavuni, we rode in a van down dirt roads passing small villages until we came to a black sand beach. At the beach, we waded into the waters to a small boat that took us across the channel to the remote island of Qamea, our final stop. Since leaving LA, we had been traveling for just over 15 hours.
Qamea was absolutely breathtaking! The resort was situated on the beach, with jungle mountains in the background. The resort only holds a maximum of 17 couples at one time, with each in their own private bure. The setting was breathtaking, the food was delicious, and best of all, the people (both other tourists and locals) were the highlight of our vacation.
Our bure was situated at the end of the resort, so we gained a little extra privacy this way. We had our own hot tub, outdoor bed, and hammock. If we wanted complete privacy, we placed the ‘red coconut’ out on our steps which was Qamea’s version of a ‘do not disturb’ sign.
Everyday Qamea organized an activity to do. You simply wrote the name of your bure on their chalkboard to sign up. There was anything from a waterfall hike (with the option to swim in the falls!) to visiting local villages, heading to a pearl farm (one of only two in all of Fiji. I highly recommend this, the owner, Claude was a character, and his story of selling everything in Canada and setting sail around the world was pretty amazing). We also participated in daily snorkeling trips, and Nick fit in a dive trip one morning. In the evenings, everyone gathered about an hour before dinner for drinks and social time. This wasn’t limited to just the resort guests either, the Qamea staff, and even the owner, Bryce, came out to join everyone! One evening local village children performed ceremonial dances for us, and another evening local tribal warriors came and shared Kava with us (A traditional Fijian drink from the root of a pepper plant). I have never felt more relaxed than I have during our week in Fiji, and it was a perfect way to unwind after all the craziness of planning a wedding.
When it came time to leave Qamea, Nick and I both discussed how much we just weren’t quite ready to go home. Usually when being on vacation someplace, after 5 or 6 days we’ve been ready to get back home and into the swing of thing. Not this time. Even during our send off, the entire Qamea staff came out and sang a ‘Good Bye’ song to us and gave us each a red hibiscus flower to toss into the water. If the flower floated to shore, it means we’ll return again someday.
When we arrived back in LA, we spent a few more days visiting friends and sight seeing. Using Nick’s Hilton Points he accrued though work travel, we didn’t have to spend a penny out of pocket for hotels. On the first evening, we drove down to San Diego for ribs (Again, we love food!) and saw the sea lions in La Jolla (another free attraction). The next day a high school friend of Nick’s took us on a back lot tour of NBC’s Universal Studios. Then, finally on our last day we spur of the moment visited Disneyland. Since Disney World was where it all started with our engagement, we figured we’d end our trip and wedding planning adventure at another Disney spot.
Since returning home, we’ve been able to stay in contact with not only many of the other honeymooners we met at the resort, but the Qamea staff themselves! Thankfully though Facebook we were able to find everyone since returning home, and even set up a dropbox account to share our photos!
In closing, I highly recommend anyone to check out Unforgettable Honeymoon’s vacation planning services. They offer trips throughout the world and the level of service they provided us can’t be beat. We also recommend if not a honeymoon trip to Qamea, an anniversary vacation. We’re hoping to make it back within the next 5-10 years. Although, if I can convince Nick to move, I’d be there in a heartbeat!
Do any of you have a once in a lifetime incredible honeymoon planned? If so, how did you save for it? What deals and steals did you snag along the way?