CHASING SUNSETS

Words & Photos by Paige Owen

During a fashion-shoot visit to Fiji, a photographer connects with the beauty of ocean and land.

 


 

Bula! Pronounced “boo-la,” this is Fiji’s version of “aloha,” an all-purpose word that makes you feel instantly happy.

I arrived in Fiji in March 2019 to a warm welcome from smiling, friendly Fijians. I was accompanying travel and fashion blogger Cara Jourdan as her photographer for Somewear Elsewhere (an Australian travel agency) on a group influencer trip to create content.

As a lover of the sea and frequent world traveller, I had high expectations, and I’m happy to say Fiji lived up to them. We were set up in photogenic landscapes with the beach at our doorstep and views of lush, palm-filled beaches. The weather was unpredictable, so we had to take photos whenever the conditions allowed us. We would wake up for sunrise and at high noon, when the humidity peaked, we would give our gear and ourselves a break from the heat. We sunbathed, swam in tropical rainstorms, and chased the most stunning sunsets.

The first half of our stay was in Momi Bay at the Marriott Resort. Even though it’s located on Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest and most populous island, Momi Bay feels like a peaceful refuge. Our cottage was on a tranquil beach where the soft sand was sprinkled with perfect seashells.

Next, we took a ferry to Tokoriki Island for the second half of our stay. Actually, a large ferry took us to a smaller boat that was waiting for us in the middle of the ocean. After we got off the first boat and onto the second one, it was a speedy, bumpy trip to Tokoriki Island, where we stepped right off the boat onto the beach to check in to our rooms at the Sheraton. The water surrounding the island was unbelievably clear. I could have lazed in it all day.

On Tokoriki, we were treated to spectacular sunsets when the sky filled with dramatic purples, pinks, and oranges reflecting onto the water. But the coral reefs give the sunsets a run for their money.

One day we took a catamaran trip from Tokoriki Island. When we stopped in the middle of the ocean, I could see rainbow-hued coral from above the water’s surface. I couldn’t wait to dive in and see what it looked like underwater. We all grabbed snorkel gear and jumped in.

The beauty was overwhelming; I had never seen coral so bright and colourful before. We swam around in the clear turquoise water, surrounded by hundreds of fish and different types of coral, and I saw my first seahorse. It was incredible to feel and see the ocean so alive all around me.

Fiji consists of over 330 islands (only one third of them inhabited), though we made it to just two of them! I’m already dreaming about going back to see more of Fiji’s paradise.

On our flight home I watched the documentary Chasing Coral, which changed my view on the ocean and coral and left me feeling heartbroken. It made me reflect on and appreciate what I was able to experience in Fiji. I hope we can keep the coral and ocean alive.

 

For more information on Chasing Coral and how to help our oceans, visit chasingcoral.com and theoceanagency.org.




Category: Volume 21