Suva Fish Market to First Class Fijian Dinner, Vinaka Grand Pacific Hotel!

During our short stay at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji, we didn’t get to do visit as much as the city as we’d have liked to but we were treated to a memorable evening with a personalized Fijian-style dinner from the hotel.

Check out our review of the Grand Pacific Hotel here! 

It started with one of the few places we did visit, the Suva Fish Market (also known as the Suva Municipal Market). Only 5 minutes driving distance and 15 minutes walking from the Grand Pacific Hotel, the market is the best place to find fresh, locally caught seafood. Though not as large as other famous fish markets around the world, there is a very diverse selection of seafood to choose from, many species we’ve never seen before and some interesting looking ones. Much of the seafood are caught by locals from villages on various parts of the island instead of large-scale fishing operations, making it a more sustainable market.

After browsing through the market, we purchased a bunch of shrimp wrapped in leaves, several crabs, and a sack of fish roe, a pretty significant amount for just the two of us! What we did not get was any lobster because everyone at the market was selling in bunches of 10…but now we totally regret just not getting any!! Even if we didn’t eat all of the food, we could’ve shared with the staff at the hotel. The cost was pretty cheap; for 7 crabs, a bunch of shrimp and fish roe, we paid around $75, a pretty good bargain for the amount of seafood we had.

We took our purchase back to the hotel, where we were met by the tourism operations manager, Sammy, a super friendly guy who we loved to converse with. Our plan was to ask the hotel if they would’ve been willing to cook for us but Sammy took great care of us and called in Chef Avikash Singh to help prepare our food. We asked how much it would cost but they said they would not charge us. Though it probably took up Chef Singh’s free time, he seemed very enthused and attentive to detail on preparing our meal. He asked how we wanted our food prepared, and we said we wanted to taste traditional Fijian-style cooking, so he told us how he would prepare all of the dishes and what ingredients he would use for each dish. Naturally, we got super excited and couldn’t wait to try out his cooking! Over the next couple hours, we patiently waited as Chef Singh said he would need some time to clean and prepare the seafood so we mostly relaxed in the outdoor restaurant chairs munching on appetizers, enjoying some beverages and watching the sun over the horizon.

After some time, the first course came out and consisted of the shrimp. It was cooked in a red sauce with coconut milk and other herbs and spices. Our first bites were met with a mildly spicy and tangy flavor of the sauce, then mixing with the subtle sweetness and softness of the shrimp. It was sooo freakin’ good! The only thing we probably regretted was not buying more since we only had about 8 or 9 shrimp. Luckily for us, there was more to come!

Our second course was the sack of roe, though we’re not sure of what fish species. Unlike roe you might find on sushi that can be individually eaten, this roe was tightly attached together, forming one big clump of roe. Chef Singh told us it was his first time cooking fish roe so he cooked it as if it were a piece of fish. Essentially, he grilled this large piece of roe with herbs and spices and topped it off with lime, onions, cucumbers and other garnishes. Much to my surprise, the roe did not fall apart at all; instead, you do have to cut it with a fork or knife like normal fish. When we took the first bite, we immediately thought that the roe tasted exactly like fresh fish and the texture was not so different either. Adding the lime (which I think makes anything taste good) also complimented the other flavors and created a very flavorful dish. Even though Singh had never prepared a dish like this, the result was masterful and impressive. 

Finally, last but not least, we got to the main course, the crabs. When Chef Singh brought out two large plates of cooked crab, it looked breathtakingly delicious. It was prepared with a red curry-like base with coconut milk, butter and a variety of herbs and spices. He made the dish spicy to give it a nice kick to the dish and added limes for additional flavor. With his last dish complete, Chef Singh was going on his way, but not before taking a photo with him and giving him a substantial tip for all of his time and effort.

Chef Avikash Singh, Grand Pacific Hotel

The first bite of that crab was heavenly; the meat was soft, tender and sweet, while the sauce provided a spicy richness that was full of flavor yet balanced with the dish as a whole. Adding the lime juices gives even tangier and satisfyingly sour flavor. Since we were digging through every part of the crab for the meat, it took us the next hour to savor all of the crabs that we got and it most certainly was worth the effort.

When it was all said and eaten, Mat and I thought it was one of the best seafood meals we’ve ever had. We were so thankful to Sammy, Chef Avikash Singh and the Grand Pacific Hotel staff for making this happen and giving us the ultimate Fiji seafood experience, and we hope to be back in Suva one day to do it all over again, maybe with some lobster!

If you think this Fijian-style meal looks tantalizing and mouth-watering, be sure to ask for Sammy at the Grand Pacific Hotel and give our post a pin below:


Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, Fiji – A Review of the “Grand Old Lady”

For our first nights in Fiji, we needed to stay in a place near the Pacific Harbour where I was doing my shark dive. Though there were several places closer to the harbor, we decided to stay at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, which was about 40 minutes away from Nausori Airport and an hour away from Pacific Harbour. It’s also a very short distance away from downtown Suva. Though we didn’t get to stay too long, we definitely had a Grand Old time at the resort hotel.

Rear View of Grand Pacific Hotel

When we first arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with “BULA!” (Hello!) by the very friendly staff, who gave us glasses of juice and coconut water. As we waited to check-in, we browsed around in the lobby/main area of the hotel to admire its lovely architectural design and the outside view before being taken to our room. We loved how bright and airy it looked with all of the natural light but also how the hotel kept much of its historic design and features. Affectionately nicknamed “The Grand Old Lady,” the hotel was built in 1914 and went through several ownership changes before being renovated and reopened in 2014. One of its most famous visitors was Queen Elizabeth II and the room that she stayed in was named in her honor. The staff was kind enough to give a tour of the Queen Elizabeth Suite and its biggest room, The Royal Suite 1.

Since it was our honeymoon, I did splurge a bit and used some credit card points to book us the Grand Pacific Club Suite, the largest room available that’s not in main building. With 54 sq m (or 580 sq ft), it was easily more than enough space for the two of us. We had a firm but very comfortable king size bed with soft linens and pillows; we definitely slept very well on this bed. There was a large workspace area if we needed to any work. The bathroom was very modern with sleek tiles and open shower. There was no tub, however, which seemed like a slight oversight with so much space not being utilized in the bathroom. The bathroom was all glass, and although not completely see-through, privacy could be an issue for some guests. The best part of the room was the large balcony where we could munch on the fresh fruit bowl given to us and enjoy the completely unobstructed views of the entire harbor.

There are a couple amenities available at the hotel. There’s a gym with pretty nice equipment, available to guests for free. There’s also the “Bliss Spa” for any treatment that you may need; we didn’t use any of the spa’s services but we really liked the bars of soap they had and bought a few (one of our highlight purchases in Fiji). The outdoor pool is free for anyone to use until the evening, though being a small pool, I’d imagine it could get crowded quickly.

There’s also a nice selection of bars and restaurants within the hotel to dine from, with some having happy hours. The only menu item we actually got to try was their fish and sticks from the Levuka Restaurant, where you can dine outside as well. Though it was the cheapest thing on the menu, it was pretty good. We would’ve loved to dine at the Prince Albert Restaurant with their renowned chef in the kitchen, but we cheapened out and went with some alternative dining options.

Booking the Grand Pacific Club Suite also allowed us to have free access to the Victoria Lounge from 5-7 pm, where we enjoyed unlimited canapés (or hors d’oeuvres) and unlimited cocktails and beverages. Not going to lie, but this may have been my favorite part during our stay, as we definitely went to town with the canapés for our dinner. I had a couple cold ones while Mat had some mostly alcohol-less cocktails and fresh juice. From the lounge, you can relax on the balcony and enjoy the beautiful view out towards the ocean.

Last but not least, we wouldn’t have had a great time without the its amazing Fijian hospitality of the staff! Everyone was very nice to us and extremely accommodating to our requests. There were a few times when we had to grab their attention but otherwise, they took good care of us. We also had a spectacular personalized dinner from one of their chefs, which we will write about in our next post. They really made us feel at home and they were a very fun group to have around. We hope to see them again if we’re ever back at the Grand Pacific Hotel!

Here is our rating breakdown of the hotel:

Design: 5/5

Location: 5/5

Cleanliness: 5/5

Food/drink (Limited experience): 4.5/5

Room: 4.5/5

Amenities: 4.5/5

Staff: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.5/5


So if you happen to be staying in Suva, take a look at the Grand Pacific Hotel. Even if you’re not staying there, you can still visit the hotel; many visitors during the day are locals who like to enjoy the amenities or dining there. If this is a place you’d consider staying in Suva, give us a Pin and let us know what your favorite feature of the hotel is.


Fiji Shark Diving with BEQA Adventure Divers, Pacific Harbour

Over the years, sharks have developed a reputation for being mindless, bloodthirsty killers that crave human flesh. So when we arrived in Fiji, we found that the BEQA Adventure Divers company in Pacific Harbour provided a diving excursion that would have you surrounded by full-grown bull sharks in the open water and without a cage!. I did the most sensible thing I could do in this situation: I took advantage of the opportunity and booked a dive to get up close and personal with these reputed fearsome creatures!

Some of you might be thinking that it sounds like a wee bit dangerous and truthfully, I think our group had a little angst about the dive. While there may always be some risk involving wild animals, our group was comforted by the fact that BEQA Diving Adventures has been operating for 19 years and they have never had a single incident. Whatever tension I may have had quickly into excitement as I was very eager to be the world of sharks!

Our group consisted of 11 divers: 6 BEQA divers and 5 regular divers. Normally, the company recommends having at least 50 dives since you will dive around 100 feet deep; however, as long as you’re comfortable with your diving skills, they will allow you to dive with supervision. I had never gone that deep prior and had only 12 dives under my belt but I had no issues during the dive.

For our first dive, we dove 100 feet to the seabed with some coral around us. Once we got to the bottom, we did not move from our spots and simply waited. At least 3 or 4 BEQA divers stayed near us with aluminum rods to push away any sharks that got too close, while the others set up or fed the bait with tuna heads. After 5 minutes, the first 2 or 3 sharks showed up, and they were massive thick-bodied sharks! Not long after that, more and more sharks started appearing, catching the scent of the bait and wanting to join in on the feeding. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by at least 30 adult sharks, each of them 8-10 feet long! You can see from the pictures how huge they look compared to the trash bin!

The sharks we observed during this part of the dive were bull sharks. These sharks are named for their broad, bulky bodies and for having unpredictable and aggressive behavior. They are one of the very few sharks that can survive in freshwater; because of this, baby bull sharks are born in freshwater environments which serve as natural protection from other saltwater predators. Like all shark species, bull sharks have amazing survival skills that have enabled them to survive for hundreds of millions of years.

Bull sharks are incredibly powerful too. Several times, a shark would swim above me and you could feel how much power they had when they propelled themselves through the water. Yet, they seemed to glide through the water without any effort, no doubt a quality of their perfectly designed bodies. I was in complete awe of seeing these creatures up close and being able to part of their environment.

Later in the dive, we moved up a reef wall and settled in a more shallow area around 30 feet deep and observed whitetip and blacktip reef sharks. Despite sharing similar names, they do differ in appearance; as their names suggest, you can figure out their species by looking at the tip of their fins to see what color they are. Whitetips also have more slender bodies and broad heads while blacktips have prototypical shark bodies. These sharks grow to only about 5 feet in length, so they’re generally harmless to humans, but proficient hunters in the reefs.

For our last dive, we went to a second spot that would again feature the bull sharks. This time, our area was a little more open and less reef around us. This meant that the sharks were more likely to swim really close in front and above us as they passed by and the BEQA divers would use their aluminum poles to push any away that got too close. 5 minutes after the bait was set up, the bull sharks appeared. (Depending on the season, tiger sharks will appear too, which grow up to 16 feet in length! We did not see any tiger sharks on these dives)

Once again, at least 30 bull sharks showed up and circled around us and the bait. I don’t know what the team’s definition of “too close” was but some of those sharks got REALLY close. In some cases, the sharks would approach 2 or 3 feet away from us and then swim directly above us, sometimes brushing our gear. One shark brushed against a diver’s face! However, I didn’t feel like I was in any danger during the dives, though I’m not sure if I can say the same for everyone else. In any case, it was simply spectacular to watch the sharks in their element.

Sharing the waters with these sharks reinforced several things I knew about sharks. These animals are not mindless or bloodthirsty killers but very intelligent creatures that only do what they do to survive. If you don’t bother them in their environment, then they’re very unlikely to bother you. (Sharks apparently also hate the sound of scuba gear.) And in instances where a shark does bite a human, they are due to curiosity or mistaken identity. This leads me to believe that as long as humans could appreciate and continue to understand these creatures, then they pose little threat to people and we can enjoy a co-existence.

Unfortunately, due to the bad reputation from bad press and little understanding of the species, sharks have become a public enemy and have paid a steep price. Last year, over 100 million sharks were killed with 73 million being used for shark fin soup in China and SE Asia. Many species of sharks are now facing endangerment due to severe overfishing, slow reproduction rates and loss of habitat. Sharks have existed for 450 million years but in only the last century, sharks now face the real possible threat of extinction. My hope is that, as we continue to learn and debunk the negative perceptions of the species, then we can save them so we can continue to enjoy them in their environment.

For more information about this dive if you’re visiting Fiji, visit the BEQA Adventure Divers website for more information. Be sure to check out our full video of our dive and if you think you might want to dive with sharks, be sure to also give us a Pin below! Happy shark diving!