Health springs eternal in mud bath
THIS might come across the wrong way but getting dirty in Fiji was one of my better memories of my trip.
Wait, let me finish. I'm talking about the Sabeto Mud Baths, by far the most entertaining and relaxing moments from my Fijian experience.
The mud baths lie almost hidden, snuggled in halfway between Nadi and Lautoka.
You can almost taste the dirt as you enter the facility, but don't stop now ...
This isn't for the neat freaks: getting muddy is just part of the traditional Fijian experience.
The sulphur in the hot springs is believed by locals to have healing properties.
Not surprisingly, it's a popular spot for tourists.
Once you are in your swimmers, it's time to immerse yourself in the mud. Those first few steps sent a quick shiver up my spine, and my legs penetrating the mud felt almost unnatural.
Before you know it, you're almost swimming around, covering your body from head to toe as best as you can.
You've got to be game enough to dig out two big handfuls of mud and just smack it over your head.
It's worth it.
All rules of cleanliness go out the window the moment you arrive.
After floating around in the mud, it's time to wade your way out of the pool and cover up any areas you might have missed.
Then it's time to dry out.
Going with a group of friends was the best. The laughs we shared as the mud tightened and lightened in colour will be remembered for a long time.
This is the best time for photos.
It's hard to sit still when the sun is out and the mud is drying.
But this is no time to sunbake.
It's probably the most energised you will feel at the mud baths.
Just try your best not to get any on your teeth. A single drop of mud against your pearly whites can make you look like a toothless hillbilly.
After about 15 minutes, it's back into the mud to wash off as much of it as you can. Sound crazy?
Sure, but muddy water can actually remove at least some of the mud that's now stuck on you.
Then it's on to the hot springs.
There's nothing better than arriving to find someone has already got the bath running steaming hot for you.
It's an ecstatic feeling, dipping your toes into that nice, hot water - almost the opposite feeling you initially feel from the mud.
Washing that dried mud off your skin feels almost like shedding a layer of skin and emerging anew.
This is where you'll really feel refreshed.
After that, it's time to dry off and leave, but be sure to stop by the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.
Up close, you'll wonder about the name. But from a distance, you will see the mountains form the shape of a man lying down, with distinct bumps for the feet and face.
Located in the foothills of the Nausori Highlands, the garden specialises in Fiji's native plants as well as an impressive collection of orchids.
The garden was started in 1977 by the late Canadian actor Raymond Burr.
It was originally designed to house his private collection of tropical orchids.
It's now open for tours, showcasing more than 2000 different orchids over 20 hectares.
It's great for a stroll, a guided tour, or just a picnic.
Sabeto is one of Fiji's true hidden gems.
It's halfway between Nadi and Lautoka, down the main access road off the Queens Highway. You will head past the famous Land of the Sleeping Giant and its beautiful array of orchids as well as the location of Fiji's renowned Stony Creek Resort sunset views.
Locals request you pay a few dollars for the opportunity to enter. The normal entry fee goes to support the nearby village and pays for some of the ground maintenance.