Two weeks in Fiji and Australia—what an amazing trip!
This was my first time traveling outside of the US, and it was an absolutely amazing couple of weeks. I am on a huge double-decker plane 11 hours into a 15 hour flight as I write this, and I am simultaneously excited to get home and already missing all the people and places from the trip.
For my first international excursion this was a big contrast from the world I am used to. The culture of Fiji is fascinating, I learned so much and yet still feel like I barely scratched the surface. And the weather was pretty much my dream come true—warm and sunny with the occasional storm to cool things off. The kind of weather that allows for outdoor showers and leaving the windows open 24/7.
Plus I got to experience it all with my sister who I hadn’t seen in months, so that made the entire adventure 10 times better!
Aside from exploring and experiencing the city of Suva, I did some more tourist-y things too. Snorkeling over top of coral amidst fish of every color and the biggest blue starfish I’ve ever seen. Kayaking in the most beautiful turquoise water alongside a few small sharks and almost beaching countless times. Laying in a hammock chair in total zen mode and soaking up the potent Fiji sunshine. Did you know that it is possible to sunburn so badly your face actually swells? Me neither, but I can tell you that it is. My Vitamin D levels are totally topped up now.
The food. It is an easy place to eat raw and fruity, the tropical fruit is abundant and delicious. Papayas, mangoes, pineapple, passionfruit, and coconuts EVERYWHERE. Coconut trees line the roads and just about every roadside market has them. And smoothies and fresh juices are available almost everywhere too.
But besides fruit, it is not the easiest place to eat vegan. Grocery stores are very different, seafood is the norm, and dairy has a way of sneaking into things when you least expect it. For instance, at a cafe one morning I ordered an iced coffee which rice milk (the most common non-dairy milk option I saw in Fiji, although still not all that common) and it turns out iced coffee = coffee flavored milkshake, complete with ice cream…surprise!
A few of my favorite eats…
Sila (a.k.a. side-of-the-road corn). After passing tons of little stands promising “Hot Corn” we finally stopped to try it. Basically from a large boiling pot they pulled out ears of corn still in husks, dunked them into cold water, peeled them, and handed them to us in a grocery bag. It tasted nothing like the corn on the cob I am used to, but I loved it. It was much tougher and chewier, reminiscent of the texture of boiled chestnuts.
Snowy House. I cannot wait to recreate this for the blog (and eat many many batches while getting the recipe just right!) It was kind of like ice cream, kind of like a snow cone—shaved ice but with ice cream-like flavors: chocolate, green tea, red bean, coffee, etc. It comes in a big metal bowl with granola/cereal hiding underneath and a scoop of ice cream (or rice cream!) on top. So yummy we went back 3 times!!
I also tried Indian food for the first time in Fiji, which sounds weird but is actually really common there. I don’t really know what I ate—some sort of veggie dish involving okra with saffron rice—but it was delicious.
Breadfruit. A not-so-fruity fruit, but one of my favorite things I tried the whole trip! It is not sweet at all, and actually very starchy and potato like although a little more fibrous. Cut into wedges and fried it was delicious. I regretted giving space on my plate to anything but breadfruit at that lunch buffet. You could see it growing all over the place too like in the photo above.
Continuing on the starchy plant theme, the cassava root was delicious too. I’m not sure if it was baked or fried, but it was also very reminiscent of potato wedges although a little lighter. It was fun to finally try the actual root from which one of my favorite flours comes. Taro root is also really common in Fiji, I saw massive bundles of it with the green tops still on standing tall at many of the roadside markets we passed. I never got a chance to try the root itself, but I did get to try the cooked taro leaves. They reminded me a lot of cooked spinach, a little less witty and limp, but really tasty.
There are stray animals all over the island. These two happy water-frolicking Fiji dogs are lucky enough to call a secluded island resort their home. And this little feline friend somehow always found her way into our Airbnb right at meal times and sometimes snuck back for a midnight trashcan
Since I was in the
neighborhood hemisphere, after Fiji I hopped over to Australia to meet up with my awesome Aussie friend, Arman, for a few days exploring Melbourne.
Even though I only had 3 days there, I feel like I got a wonderful taste of the place—one day wandering the city, one day outside in the sun and at the Melbourne Zoo, and one day seeing the coast and browsing IKEA because it’s not every day I get the chance to nerd out over photo props with a fellow food blogger friend.
(Disclaimer: I was very camera-forgetful by the time I got to Australia, so please excuse the lack of photos from this part of the trip!)
Delicious food highlights…
After so many new and unexpected food experiences in Fiji, Melbourne was a wonderful contrast with tons of healthy options. Although every single evening did end in a cold creamy dessert of some kind. While escaping the chilliest month of winter back home, I am going to eat as many frozen desserts as possible!
Fritz Gelato. The flavor selection was total delicious overwhelm, we both just stood there just staring undecided for an awkwardly long amount of time. I ended up going with half mint chocolate chip and half bounty—a surprisingly un-fruity choice but sometimes my love for chocolate takes precedence. Both were amazing and quickly devoured before melting or blowing away since we were walking along the ocean.
Gelatissimo. This time I went fruity with lemon and strawberry sorbet. There were tons of fruity dairy-free options like mango, passionfruit, green apple, raspberry, blood orange, and I don’t even remember what else.
Frozen by a Thousand Blessings. Self serve frozen yogurt but with dairy-free options! The two dairy-free flavors were strawberry and almond mylk hazelnut, I got both. The strawberry was creamier, but I liked the nutty flavor of the hazelnut better. The topping bar had some unique choices too like mini GF chocolate cupcakes and mini cheesecakes—some dessert on top of your dessert.
Okay I’ll stop with the frozen desserts now.
A really fun non dessert place we went was Spud Bar. It felt like being at Subway but with a delicious, hot, scissor-mashed sweet potato instead of bread for piling high with any number of toppings. I never would’ve thought to put spinach, tomato, beets, and corn on a sweet potato, but let me tell you it works!
Lunches were usually something quick on the go amidst exploring, but one trend I noticed (and loved!) is how easy it is to find sushi just about anywhere. Even at the museum next to the usual burgers and sandwiches you could grab a couple of sushi rolls instead. I wish the US would adopt this trend.
Am I exhausted? Yes. Would I do it again in a second? Heck yes!!
But right now I am looking forward to getting back to reality and back to recipe creation. That is one of my favorite things about travel, the joy is two-fold: 1) the excitement of the adventure itself and 2) the sweetness of home that only time away can make me fully appreciate.
This will certainly not be my last adventure abroad 🙂
Harriet Emily says
Wowwwww Natalie!!! Fiji and Australia look sooo amazing! I’m desperate to go to Fiji! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time! I definitely want to try some breadfruit – I’d never heard of it before your post! <3
I wish I could’ve brought some back with me to experiment with, it was so yummy!! Thank you so much for reading <3
rachel @ athletic avocado says
Looks like you had so much fun! I’m so jealous! So lucky you got to meet Arman too 🙂
It was a blast!! Thanks for reading Rachel 🙂
I was so looking forward to hearing about your trip (and of course missing your lovely posts, in the meantime!), and I’m so happy to hear it was amazing! The photos look incredible, and the food sounds even better. Spudbar?! Somebody needs to get that started here!! Australia has long been on my “to visit” list, but I most definitely just added Fiji. Thanks so much for sharing, and glad to have you back in the US! 🙂
We do seriously need to get the Spud Bar trend going here, it’s genius! And totally doable at home of course, but somehow more fun when someone else makes it for you haha 😀 Australia has been on my list for a long time too, so I’m really glad I finally made it. I could happily spend much more time there, so much to explore. Thank you for reading Sara, you are so sweet! Can’t wait to catch up with everything I’ve missed from you while I was away…:)
How good is breadfruit !! We get it here in Hawaii as well . Sounds like the best trip , lots of eating and beach time ??
You lucky duck!! Well I guess I’ll just have to come to Hawaii next 😉 Haha!
Kyra @ Vie De La Vegan says
I loved reading about your travels Nat! Fiji is such a beautiful place – I went there when I was a kid, but will never forget snorkelling and those bright blue starfish! And that is so cool you met up with Arman!!! You’ve got me craving icy desserts now <3
Yes the starfish–who could forget those guys!! Fiji is such a neat place, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Too chilly here right now, so eat some extra ice cream for me, kay? 😀 Thanks for reading Kyra <3
Demeter | Beaming Baker says
What AMAZING photos! I’ve totally been waiting, ever so excited, and just dreamy-eyed in anticipation of your travel photos and you SO did not disappoint. <3 The weather sounds absolutely divine! Totally the kind of weather I'm always dreaming about in Maine. Lol. Is it too soon to request that when we go on an epic international trip together (this is so gonna be a thing right?), that we go to Fiji and do all of the amazing things that you did and then some?? Lazing in a hammock, kayaking near (but not too near haha) sharks and eating all the fruits sounds wonderful!! Also, Snowy House sounds like all of my favorite things in one. Drooling. And then some. Now I'm totally jealous that Arman got to meet you! Next stop: Demeter!! You've always dreamed of going to Maine, riiiiiiiight? 😉 I'm SO happy that you had fun. You deserve this vacation and a million more. Love ya! xoxo
Umm with the word “epic” in the title it’s NEVER too soon!!! Why did I even bother unpacking!? 😉 We’ll just cover the whole other side of the world–Asia, Australia, Europe, and every awesome spot in between. Let me know as soon as you can no longer see your breath in Maine and I’ll be there! YOU deserve a vacation, I hope you are making the most of it and doing as little work as possible <3 xoxo
Eeeeep!!! I was so anxious to hear more about your trip and reading this felt like I was right there with you! These photos are AMAZING!!!!!! Just absolutely breathtaking. I’m laughing about the iced coffee ? Seriously??? Who would’ve thought? Gosh, you mentioned SO many wonderful things I want to try and I’m excited for you to recreate!! But OMG!! A spud bar?!?? Sign me up! We need those here!
I’m so glad you had a great time, I mean who wouldn’t?!? Yay for vitamin D and for meeting Arman and for sharing this trip with us!! ❤
I wish you had been actually right there with me, that would’ve made the whole thing even 10 times MORE fun! One day we will meet up in real life 🙂 And if I could’ve packaged up the tropical weather and brought it back with me I definitely would’ve shared with ya! The Spud Bar concept–someone really needs to jump on that over here. It sounds much more Oregon than FL, so keep your eyes out for one haha! Thank you for reading Mandy <3 xoxo
Faith VanderMolen says
Ah yay so happy for you and all the adventures you had and all the amazing food you ate! Sorry about your sunburn though. I’m trying not to have the same thing happen here in Thailand:) And I’m going to keep a look out for breadfruit too. Hopefully I can find some here before I head back to China. Thanks for sharing the update!
You are in Thailand right now!? Ahhh I am so behind on your posts I had no idea, but that is amazing!!! Another place I have to make it too someday. I hope you are having an amazing time and enjoying all the tropical fruit too, good luck on the sunburn avoidance 😀
Bianca // Elephantastic Vegan says
Aaah, now you’ve got me in full-on travel mode!
I’ve never been to Fiji or Australia (though many of my packages were there (apparently it’s not so easy to differentiate between Australia and Austria :D))
The breadfruit looks so cool – I haven’t even heard of it before you mentioned it!
Also, it’s so fun you met up with Arman!
The photos of the beaches of Fiji are so pretty! I love that there are coconuts everywhere! It must be a raw foodie’s dream 🙂
Hahaha on the Australia vs Austria think–yeah so similar! I actually used to mix those up when I was a kid, but then I just remembered that Austria was the one in The Sound of Music and Australia was the one with the koalas 😀 It was an amazing time, and already has me itching for more international trips! Thanks for reading Bianca <3
Bianca // Elephantastic Vegan says
Ohh I should watch The Sound of Music 😀
How about a trip to Austria next?? 😛
Hehe sounds like fun to me!! 😀
Sounds like you had an amazing time Nat! I just got home from Bali today..so we were so close to each other in the world!
Love your photos too and so cool you met up with Arman!
Ha you are right!! I hope Bali was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to hear/read about your trip. It’s on my list to make it to eventually too 🙂 Fiji is awesome, Australia is awesome, Arman is awesome–it was so much fun! Thanks for reading Jess, good luck with unpacking and transitioning back to life <3
The Vegan 8 says
Oh my gosh, so much I want to say about this post! First, SO happy you are back and to catch up on your blog. Next, the photos are amazing! It looks just beautiful and that water, wow! I live in Houston and the nearest beach is Galveston Island and it’s about as dirty and disgusting as it gets, LOL. So, needless to say, I’m super envious of a true beach and beautiful water. I loved reading about all the very interesting food you tried! I’ve never heard of most of it but reading your descriptions made them all sound really delicious. Especially, that breadfruit and spud bar. Oh yes, a spud bar sounds like a dream. I died laughing at your Indian food comment of having no idea what you ate, hahahaha!
And that is soooo cool that you got to meet Arman! I’ve told Arman many times that I would love for him to cook for me some of his yummy food, he is such a nice guy and I bet such a joy to hang out with! That photo of you too is fabulous!
Dying laughing at your sunburn, you poor thing…don’t you know you need sunscreen girl?! Lol! I hope the peeling wasn’t too bad! Great post and thank you for sharing. Glad you are back. I agree that traveling is a blast, but like Dorothy says, “there is no place like home”!
I knew you lived in TX but I didn’t know you lived in Houston!? My grand parents used to live in Houston and I have aunts and uncles in that area so I’ve been to Houston countless times! And I’m pretty sure we even had a family reunion at Galveston when I was really little so I don’t actually remember it, but I’ve heard it’s not the most scenic lol. Even our FL water cannot compare to the beautiful turquoise water of Fiji though, it was incredible! Ha I was just proud of myself for actually liking Indian food, perhaps I could warm up to spicier curry things after all 😀
I had so much fun with Arman! And talking in person as opposed to online is always nice. We actually didn’t end up eating anything homemade ironically because there are so many delicious places in Melbourne I wanted to try, but being his taste tester would be a delicious job indeed.
Omg the peeling…I feel like a snake over here. I really dislike sunscreen so tried to get by without, but I overestimated my sun tolerance a bit oops! And Dorothy is absolutely correct, I felt it even more with international travel. But at the same time I am kind of itching to go somewhere else already. Thanks for reading Brandi <3
Kaila @ Healthy Helper Blog says
Is it weird that I am MOST jealous you got to try breadfruit?! LOL I have ALWAYS wanted to try that! But no seriously, girl…what an amazing trip!! SO COOL that you got to meet up with Arman too! How fun! Glad you’re back though! We’ve got to get back into our recipe party shenanigans! 😉
Not weird at all, breadfruit is amazing! If customs would’ve allowed it I would’ve filled all extra space in my suitcase with breadfruit lol. Another reason I need to go to Hawaii 😀 The whole trip was so much fun, and a much needed recharge!
Rachel's Fit Kitchen says
Hi Natalie! Loved reading all about trip to Fiji and Australia!! I used to love on Melbourne for 10 years and miss the food scene there so much. Especially the sushi hand rolls on every corner!! Did you walk around all the alley ways and see the street art? From the sound of your frozen dessert list it seems like you made it to St Kilda (that’s where I used to live). Rachel x
Really!? I didn’t know that, that’s awesome! Omg yes the food choices are insanely plentiful and delicious, I can totally see why you miss it. I did not get to see the street art, but yes I did go to St Kilda–what a neat spot to live! There is so much to see and so much going on, I could easily go back and explore for days 🙂 Thanks for reading Rachel <3
Anjali @ Vegetarian Gastronomy says
Oh wow…I can’t believe I missed this post of yours. Sounds like you had a fantastic time in both places! I’ve been to tahiti, but Fiji is one of my bucket list places and so is austrailia! So many things…that snowy ice…I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about and yes please recreate it for the blog! I will love you even more for it. They have a version of that in India…it’s this perfect snow cone/ice cream blend with all sorts of flavors and toppings and it tastes amazing! It’s super creamy yet ice!
The water looks gorgeous…one of my fav things to do in tropical places. Nice that you got some time with your sister while exploring a new area. Yay for trying Indian food for the first time! There are actually a lot of Indian influence in terms of cuisine there I heard.
I hear you on the breadfruit. The firs time we picked one up in hawaii i was so shocked at what it tasted like haha! Not quite sure i liked it though, probably because it was not what i was expecting.
Hilarious that you went to IKEA…and you’re right…it does sound like fun going with a fellow food blogger =) Hoping to see some of the inspiration from your trip in your future recipes! Glad you had a great trip! Make your next one to SoCal! =)
Tahiti–that’s actually pretty close by isn’t it! There are so many islands in that area I have to pull up google maps every time just to get an idea of where things are haha. But I bet that was absolutely beautiful too! And Australia has been on my list for a while now, I was really happy to finally make it and would totally go back in an instant. Fiji was so much fun, I love the tropical weather and fruit and vibe–totally my style. And yes, tons of Indian influence there, and quite a large Indian population actually. It’s a little embarrassing that I hadn’t tried Indian food until now and that I can’t even remember what I had (it was take out, my cousin ordered and brought over so that’s partly why), but all the more reason I need to come to San Diego so I can try some of your homemade Indian food. Homemade is always better 🙂 Thanks for reading Anjali!