Taking photos is my job as a professional photographer, but I still take pleasure in capturing the moments of my private life. What does that mean for my vacations?

I was taking off work and going on holiday to rest. It was hard to pick a destination since I wanted something comfortable, but we all knew I would still take my camera. (Last year’s trip was the intense “USA Sierra vacation.) My travels have had a way of becoming something between work and holiday. So, after some research, I finally picked an oasis that would be restorative and beautiful. That place was Fiji.

Tokoriki, Fiji, Photography Journal
Sunset view at Tokoriki Island Resort, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji

In an effort to keep things simple, I booked a travel package with one destination, on one island, staying in one perfect room. All I had to do was pack my gear and go.

Now, let’s get right to the Travel Journal.

From Hong Kong to the Resort

Helicopter cabin view
Heading to Tokoriki Island by helicopter right from Nadi Airport

After a ten and a half­hour direct flight from Hong Kong to Nadi International Airport, I grabbed a phone SIM at the airport (because who can live without the Internet, right?) and was on my way. I didn’t even need to exchange money since everything was either prepaid or would go on a credit card. At first I couldn’t find the domestic airline connection to the resort. Then a very nice Fijian lady assisted me and ran between airports until I was there. A big thank you to her. It was a short wait until a private helicopter took us to paradise. I was especially happy that I could snap shots through the window during that flight.

Tokoriki Island Resort

Beach photo
Vegetation abounds everywhere on Tokoriki Island

The resort was on a isolated island accessible only by boat, seaplane or helicopter. It was an easy choice since there were so many positive reviews. Like I said, I wanted to keep things simple and the beachfront scenery looked appealing in every advertisement. The reality was as expected and I had a pleasant stay at Tokoriki. The staff there were very friendly. The grounds­ from its infinity pool to the beaches were very nice. The cocktails and dessert were the best.

The resort area wasn’t too big. It just took a minute to walk to the restaurant. There were not too many people, which was great for privacy and relaxing. There was just a patio between my bed and the beach so I could enjoy the freedom of traveling light. I walked around with just my camera and slippers, leaving my wallet and phone behind. Believe me, I had never felt comfort like that before. Also, there was no shopping mall or town, so no need to concern myself about the souvenirs. (Oh, and no TV!)

Floating velvety petals are a warm greeting, Bula!!
The dock reaches to where dreams land
Calm waters as the sun burns into an African violet sky. ISO200, f/11, 120s, 21mm

I only had two complaints. First, the coconut trees were not very healthy and bushy. Second, few boats parked in front of the beach and that ruins the picturesque look. Of course, neither of these things took away from my experience.

Visiting Cast Away Island

Wilson !!!

Without a doubt, I was excited to visit the Cast Away Island (actually called Monuriki). This was the island location of the movie “Cast Away” and who could forget Tom Hanks and “Wilson” together even years after watching that film. It was located just opposite of the resort and only took fifteen minutes by boat to visit. I registered at the dive shop and off I went.

Marine Life

Hey...Miss...

The thing to do on Fiji is enjoy the crystal clear pacific ocean water. There are countless beach and marine creatures to investigate, as well. The hermit crab seemed to especially love having his photo taken. She would hold still and pose for the shots.

Scuba Diving

I had the first dive of my life on Fiji. The Tokoriki Diving Centre @tokorikidiving provided a beginner course for people just like myself. Mr. Will, my trainer, was a very kind person and guided me well. After some basic training, Mr. Will took me straight onto a dive. I was excited and expecting to take a lot of underwater photos. We got to the nearby diving site, geared up, and sat on the edge of the boat. He told me to flip over, head first and backwards into the ocean. As I fell into the water looking up at the sky, and then with the sun shining through the water’s surface, it felt as if I were entering another world. There was a temperature shift and silence. That was my paradise. It was such an amazing experience.

Mr Will was looking after me the whole time. We explored together and he pointed out all of the interesting things. I had to keep focused on breathing, but was able to take some photos. I was purely delighted and unexplainably happy. It really was life changing.

Besides my recently adopted hobby of astrophotography, I will start another new chapter – underwater photography. That should keep me busy.

I went on two dives during my stay in Tokoriki. It was transformative. Enjoy some of the shots from my dives and the schools of fish 🐠.

Night Life

Beachfront Bure
Southern Cross, Hadar, Rigil Kentaurus make early evening appearances

There were only two things to do at night, go to bed or lay on a hammock under the sky full of stars. Then again, I started working on some astrophotography.

Milkyway over Tokoriki, ISO 2000, f/2.8, 20s, 21mm

The sky was perfectly clear, but there was a full moon during my travel dates. That meant I only had one hour to take shots after the moon set around 3:00am on my first two nights. The pole alignment process was unsuccessful on my first night, so I was only able to take advantage of one night shoot. It was a good thing I brought two different cameras for other types of shots. In any case, that forced me to get the rest I needed.

Milky way over fiji
Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex and the Milky way over Fiji's sky. ISO 6400, f/3.5, 16s x 20, 21mm
Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex, 60s x 35, ISO 4000, 100mm Lens, Tracker was Polarie
Beachfront & Star Trail @ Tokoriki
Star Trail over Tokoriki. Stacked from multiple exposure, approx 1.5hr. ISO 250, f/5.6, 21mm lens

Mouthwatering Dishes

Dessert Photograph
Amazing Dessert @ Tokoriki . ISO 450. f/3.2

The dining made this trip that much more memorable. The restaurant ambiance was excellent, with beachside tables and other tables near the pool. I tried them all. Beachfront was the best, except for the wind and low lighting.

My unending compliments went to the mouthwatering dishes. The menu changed daily, offering delightful surprises. Everything looked stunning and tasted even better. The dessert was the most amazing. As a food photographer by trade, I could not stop myself from capturing these lovely dishes.

Beachfront Dinner table @ Tokoriki

A Visual Retreat

It was hard to say goodbye to such a beautiful Fiji holiday, so I have compiled an album of the water, beaches, and clear skies. If you enjoyed the travel journal, you will love the rest of the photos. Click the button below to view the album.

Thanks for watching. Please like and share this post if you found this interesting.

Wilson Lee, Son Gallery, 2016

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