Angela and I recently returned from a trip to Fiji and Perth with our time abroad equally split between the two destinations. In Fiji, we fully embraced our adventurous side, zip-lining through forests and jumping out of a plane. In Perth, we slowed things down and connected with family that moved to Western Australia last year. Both locations were enjoyable despite the big differences in our chosen activities.
The impetus for this trip was an award availability dump from Fiji Airways that we could book using Alaska Airlines miles. Alaska Airlines has been slowly devaluing its award currency over the last year, and I’ve been in a hurry to use up the huge stash that Angela and I had both accumulated. Once we secured flights to Sydney with a five-day stopover in Fiji, it was easy enough to string together a cross-country flight to Perth and a return flight to the United States.
As mentioned before, the Fiji Airways flights were the crux of our flight bookings. In addition to that, I think it is important to note that transcontinental flights on Qantas is currently a steal using Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Miles and is one of the better award redemptions I’ve ever made on a pure point-to-cost ratio.
- Angela and Nicholas
- 55,000 Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Miles + 93.30USD per person
- LAS-LAX in AS F
- LAX-NAN in FJ J
- NAN-SYD in FJ J
- 20,000 Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Miles + 17.70USD per person
- SYD-PER in QF J
- 127,500 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles + 117.53AUD per person
- PER-SIN in SQ J
- SIN-LAX in SQ J
- 74.90USD per person
- LAX-LAS in DL Y
- 55,000 Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Miles + 93.30USD per person
The hotels for this trip were a bit of a mixed bag, but booking them was fairly straightforward. In retrospect, I wish that I would have booked a different hotel in Fiji as the DoubleTree did not end up being what we expected. That said, The Westin Perth was an excellent property at an amazing price.
- One room for five nights at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Fiji – Sonaisali Island for an average of 32,000 Hilton Honors Points per night with fifth night free
- One room for five nights at The Westin Perth for an average of 20,600 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night with fifth night free
- One room for one night at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel for 1 Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate (35,000 Points)
We pre-planned about half of our activities for this trip, and slotted the others in as we went. While none of them were particularly cheap, each offered a ton of value and an experience that we’re unlikely to replicate anywhere else.
- 112.64USD per person for two people for South Sea Sailing Full Day Cruise including hotel pick-up
- 255.00FJD per person for two people for Abseil Nadi from Zip Fiji including hotel pick-up
- 1,115.00FJD per person for two people for 13,000ft Skydive with Photos & Videos
- 119AUD per person for two people for round-trip ferry tickets on SeaLink from Perth to Rottnest Island
- 71AUD per person for two people for e-bike rental on Rottnest Island from Pedal & Flipper
June 28, 2023
A late departure meant we had a bit more flexibility on our trip’s start date. As such, we dropped Fitz off before pulling out our suitcases and packing up. In the mid-afternoon, we drove to the airport, parked, and checked in for our flight before visiting the Centurion Lounge for a small meal. As on previous trips, we didn’t have to wait for entry. The food was delicious, as usual.
Our short flight to Los Angeles was uneventful. Angela enjoyed a delicious hard cider along the way.
When we arrived in Los Angeles, we walked to our departure gate, located in a part of LAX that we’ve never visited before, to perform a required document check before we could receive our boarding passes. With those in hand, we journeyed back to the main international terminal concourse and visited the Star Alliance lounge for some pre-flight drinks.
Our flight boarded a little later than scheduled, but we departed on time. I much prefer late evening departure times and this flight reminded me why they’re so great. After a quick and efficient meal service, the lights were dimmed and Angela and I both slept until about ninety minutes before landing at 0600 local time. Being able to fall asleep on a plane at a normal time and wake up in a distant destination is the primary reason we love flying business class.
Having skipped a full day because of the time change, we arrived early in the morning in Fiji. After collecting our bags, we cleared immigration and customs without any issue (after asking if the Chester’s Hot Fries in my bag would cause any problems), and walked to the taxi stand. Once there, we negotiated a ride to our hotel for 45.00FJD, in line with what we expected based on pre-trip research.
The ride to our resort lasted about thirty minutes and our driver kindly gave us his card to arrange transport back to the airport on our day of departure for the same price. We arrived at the resort around 0730. Entering and exiting the property requires a short ferry ride across a river which we found to be fairly pleasant in all circumstances.
Prior to our visit, I made sure that the property knew we were arriving early. At check-in, they were gracious enough to offer us breakfast while they attempted to get a room ready for us. As is standard with all DoubleTree properties, we were given cookies to enjoy after checking in.
At breakfast, we were introduced to Tokasa, an exceptionally friendly staff member who took great care of us over the course of our time at the resort. She reserved us a table for our morning meals and made sure we received barista made coffee and freshly cold pressed fruit juice every day.
When we finished our leisurely breakfast, we were informed that our room was ready. Obviously, we never expect to have a room available before the specified check-in time, so this was a delightful surprise. We grabbed our keys, informed the front desk agent we’d like to make a reservation for the special Fijian culture and food experience that night, and headed to our room.
The standard room we booked was clean and the bed was comfortable, but the fit and finish of the property needs some work. It seemed like the fixtures were newer, but the workmanship during renovation was a little lacking, unfortunately. This didn’t bother us on an ongoing basis, but it is something to note if you’re considering booking the property.
Unfortunately, our bags never made it to our room. After twenty minutes of waiting, we returned to the front of the resort, where we’d seen them stored, and picked them up ourselves. We changed for a stroll around the property before heading to the gym.
The gym was well-appointed for cardio, but the weight situation left a bit to be desired with the dumbbells maxing out at fifteen kilograms.
After completing our workout, we spent some time in the sun before watching the sunset and then heading to dinner.
Dinner featured a few unique Fijian dishes and a cultural show with singing and dancing in native dress. The best part of the meal was Kokoda, a dish very similar to ceviche. There were a variety of lomo cooked meats, but they weren’t seasoned in any particularly interesting way. There were several root vegetables as well, a staple of Fijian cuisine.
After eating our fill, we headed back to our room and got a good night’s sleep after a very long day.
After a hearty breakfast, we spent most of the morning and early afternoon laying by the pool reading. While this doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, I’m quite pleased with how I was able to turn off my brain and tune out the need to be busy in order to enjoy our time on a pair of lounge chairs.
In the mid-afternoon, we hit the gym again before playing a few games of tennis at the property’s court. Unfortunately, we ended our time tied so there was no clear winner. Following tennis, we wandered to the hotel’s cafe for a late lunch of fish and chips alongside a steak sandwich. The food was decent, but expensive for the quality. Walking around after lunch, we spotted these beautiful Fiji parrotfinches.
Continuing on our walk, we made a closer examination of a dilapidated bungalow at the far end of the hotel grounds. It definitely looks like something that would be at home in a horror movie about a vacation gone wrong.
Returning to our room, we hung out on our balcony, booked a boat cruise for the following day, and enjoyed the sunset.
Following breakfast, we took the ferry across to the hotel’s pickup area where we waited for our transportation to The Port at Denarau. After a thirty minute drive, we checked in for the tour at the South Sea Sailing desk, obtained our boarding passes, and grabbed a flat white before heading to the boat.
Onboard, we sat at a booth with a delightful family from Melbourne, Australia and got to chat with them for a few hours during our cruise. Before leaving port, the crew gave a short overview of boat safety and the itinerary for the day and then we set out onto the open water for the ninety minute journey to the sandbar where we’d be snorkeling and enjoying lunch service.
On the journey to the sandbar, the crew provided us with a small brunch including fruit, meat pies, and some sweets.
Once we arrived at the Mamanuca Islands, we donned the snorkeling equipment that we brought from home and borrowed some flippers from the crew before spending a little over an hour snorkeling over a beautiful reef. The marine life was the best we’ve ever seen. We were surrounded by brightly colored coral, fish, and even a few starfish.
After the snorkeling session, we ate lunch on board the boat. Our lunch session including complimentary beer and wine. Angela tried Fiji Gold, the local brew.
When we were finished with lunch, we swam out to another reef to do some more snorkeling. It was incredibly beautiful and we spent forty-five minutes enjoying the wildlife before heading back to the boat.
We cruised back to port, disembarked, and were transported back to our hotel. We turned in early after a tiring day of sun and fun.
After breakfast, we took the ferry across to the hotel’s pickup area to await transport.
We were picked up at our hotel at 0830 and driven to Zip Fiji for our second Fijian adventure. The latter half of the drive was over unsealed roads so we knew we were headed to something fun. When we arrived at the administrative office, we were immediately welcomed, asked to sign in and finalize payment, and then harnessed up.
Our package included both the standard zipline experience and a few rappelling opportunities. Our group consisted of approximately thirty people and included a wide variety of nationalities, ages, and comfort levels. Angela and I had a blast with the staff who seemed excited to see a couple as enthusiastic and fun-loving as we are.
The rappelling portion of the tour was a little underwhelming compared to the experiences we recently had in Truckee, but they were still fun and provided a few memorable moments.
After completing the course, we had a very rushed meal of Thai chicken curry and banana bread before loading up for the return to our hotel. When we arrived, Angela and I hit the gym before playing some competitive games of tennis.
I arranged for a taxi to take us to the Skydive Fiji office after breakfast. Unfortunately, our airport taxi driver was unavailable on short notice, so we paid an elevated rate of 65.00FJD each way. When we arrived at the office we were greeted, signed some liability waivers, weighed to ensure we were not too heavy, used the bathroom one last time, and loaded into the company’s transport with the jump masters we’d be working with. We’re lucky that Fiji is not as much of a food destination as some of the places we visit, or I definitely would have exceeded the weight at which a surcharge is required.
While we were in the van, we were handed a phone playing a video that gave an overview of the skydiving process, various safety instructions, and the communication that would happen during the jump. After a couple of stops to drop off people who had jumped earlier in the day, we were hooked into our harnesses and ushered towards the airstrip.
After a brief introductory interview, we wedged ourselves into the plane. We quickly climbed to 13,000 feet with a beautiful view of the ocean and island below us. The door opened, I swung my feet out of the plane, and we were off into sky. Angela followed shortly after, although I obviously didn’t see her exit from the plane.
To make a long story short, skydiving is an absolutely exhilarating experience and we strongly recommend it if you ever get the chance. It is much less scary than bungee jumping, so if you’ve tried that and hated it, you should try skydiving to compare the two.
We landed in a field outside the company’s offices, said thank you to our jump masters, and paid for our experience. We were provided with the photos and video from our jump before our driver picked us up to return us to the hotel.
Fresh from the jump, we were full of energy and lifted weights before taking the ferry across to the road adjoining the resort grounds to go for a jog. We visited the convenience store at the end of the road, grabbed some ice cream, soda, and salty snacks, and walked back to the resort. While doing so, we passed a variety of wildlife including quite a few dogs who were roaming free.
At the resort, we spent some time cooling off on a swinging daybed before heading for a late lunch of butter chicken and fish and chips.
We watched the sunset before packing up and preparing for the following day.
Unfortunately, we had to wake up quite early on our day of departure from Fiji. Checking out at 0600, we departed the resort via taxi at 0615.
We arrived at the airport two hours before our flight, checked in, cleared security and immigration, and visited the Fiji Airways Prime Lounge. It was quite nice, with a good breakfast spread and barista made coffee. We left the lounge to stretch our legs a bit before boarding our flight.
Our flight left slightly late, but was very pleasant. Fiji Airways provided excellent service on both of our flights and we recommend them as a carrier. We arrived in Sydney slightly behind schedule but with plenty of time before our flight to Perth later that day. We were able to check our suitcases for our domestic transfer before taking the train into the city.
We walked from Central Station to RK San for an absolutely delicious lunch. If you’re ever in Sydney and want some delicious Japanese food, we wholeheartedly endorse this restaurant.
After lunch, we walked to the World Square location of Edition Roasters where we enjoyed some delicious drinks (a matcha latte for Angela and mocha latte for me) alongside a yuzu Basque cheesecake that was absolutely scrumptious.
We headed back to the airport, proceeded through security, and spent a couple of hours before our flight in the Qantas lounge. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed because of an incoming aircraft issue and then pushed back even further when a passenger became ill and had to be deplaned and their luggage removed. We finally left about ninety minutes late. Angela slept the entirety of the coast-to-coast flight.
Arriving in Perth, we took an Uber to our hotel where we checked in around 0100. The agent who checked us in was friendly and informative and our room was a delight. The Westin Perth is great and we recommend it to anyone looking for a place to stay in the city. In particular, the bed was extremely comfortable after a very long day.
Breakfast at The Westin Perth was awesome with made-to-order eggs, a huge array of buffet items, and unlimited barista made coffee drinks.
After getting our fill, we walked to Elizabeth Quay where we met my aunt Susan next to The Bell Tower. We chatted for a few minutes before catching the free CAT bus to Kings Park and Botanic Garden. We walked around for a while, enjoying chatting and admiring the views over the water.
After leaving the park, we took the bus back to Elizabeth Quay before walking to the Council House to view a small art exhibition called Djinong Djina Boodja by indigenous artist Shane Pickett.
We made arrangements to meet Freya, my cousin, for lunch and walked to Nao Japanese Ramen, passing some kangaroo statues on the way.
Lunch was good, but not great. The ramen was tasty but the variety of appetizers we ordered weren’t as good as we were hoping. After lunch, Freya drove us to Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park to see some kangaroos. After walking for a bit, we finally stumbled upon a huge troupe of the famous marsupials. We kept joking they were goth kangaroos because they were hanging out around people’s final resting place.
Freya returned us to our hotel where Susan hung out with us in the lounge for canapes and drinks. The Westin Perth shone brightly when it came to its lounge offerings, offering a full meal to patrons with access, as well as a large variety of alcoholic drinks. During dinner, we made plans to visit Rottnest Island based on the weather forecast and purchased our ferry tickets in advance.
After a few rounds of drinks, Susan made her way home and we headed to bed given our late arrival in Perth the night before.
We woke up early and worked out in the hotel’s well-appointed gym. With much heavier dumbbells than the DoubleTree and tons of cable machines, there is something for everyone.
After breakfast, we met Susan and her husband, Steve, at Telegram Coffee for some delicious coffee and a nice slice of cake before walking to Perth Central train station and heading to Fremantle.
Our first stop in Fremantle was the Fremantle Markets, an eclectic collection of shops featuring food and goods. We purchased some mint-chocolate and peanut-butter fudge from The Original Fremantle Fudge after tasting many of the flavors.
After the market, we visited the Western Australia Maritime Museum. To be quite frank, the museum was a bit of a letdown with oddly labeled artifacts and an incoherent flow through the exhibition. The best part of the museum, in my opinion, was the Australia II racing yacht that won the America’s Cup in 1983. I would specifically not recommend the video exhibition Sky Dreaming that we watched while at the museum as it was devoid of interesting content.
After the museum, we went to Little Creatures Brewery for lunch. Angela, Steve, and I chose the beef burger while Susan had a very messy pulled pork sandwich. Angela and Susan also split a beer flight. I enjoyed my burger, but it wasn’t anything special.
For dessert, we wandered to Freo Ice-Cream and Waffles where Susan and Steve had ice cream, Angela chose passionfruit sorbet, and I opted for a chocolate thickshake. Angela’s sorbet might have been the best I’ve ever tasted.
With that, our day in Fremantle ended and we took the train back to Perth. We said our goodbyes to Steve and Susan and headed to the lounge for some evening refreshments before heading to bed.
After breakfast, we met Susan and Steve at Elizabeth Quay for our ferry ride to Rottnest Island.
During the journey, the captain gave a brief synopsis of the sights we passed on the way from Perth to Fremantle while also describing the history of Fremantle Port and its associated shipping industry. After a brief stop at Fremantle to pick up more passengers, we headed across the bay to Rottnest Island.
Once we arrived on the island, we hurried over to the bike rental shop to secure some e-bikes for our journey around the island. We intended to bike the whole thing and spent a little extra to make it a more pleasant experience. If you also intend to bike the whole loop around the island, we strongly recommend e-bikes unless you are in exceptional shape or a frequent cyclist.
Before setting out on our journey, we stopped at The Lane Cafe for a couple of flat whites. While we enjoyed them, we admired (and photographed) the quokkas that were happily walking and hopping around the common areas.
After our pick-me-up, we biked around the entire island, stopping at various spots to take some photos. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any quokkas outside of the cafe area while on Rottnest Island.
Our ride was great, and we really enjoyed the scenery, even on a wet winter’s day. The first half of our journey was clear, but the entire second half we cycled through a steady rainstorm.
Once we completed our cycling, we returned our bikes and headed to Dôme for an exceptionally mediocre lunch. Our advice is to steer clear of this place if you’re hungry and opt for literally any other restaurant as they’re likely to provide better than microwave-quality dishes.
After lunch, we stopped for a few more coffees and I hunted for the perfect Quokka picture, which I finally realized after forty-five minutes of patiently waiting.
The sky opened up and started pouring rain on us. We waited it out as long as possible before returning to the ferry and heading back to Perth. Once we arrived at Elizabeth Quay, we headed to our hotel while Susan and Steve headed home. Again, we stopped at the lounge for some light refreshments before heading to our room to rest.
We worked out again before heading to eat and, after breakfast, we received a message that Susan was feeling under the weather, so we had to abandon plans to visit their home on our final day in Perth. We decided to spend the day walking around the city. First, we walked to Heirrisson Park to search for kangaroos. While at the park, we encountered a wide variety of bird life.
Finally, as we were about to exit the park, we stumbled upon a troupe of kangaroos. As you can see, I was pretty excited about this development.
We walked in the direction of Elizabeth Quay along a path that borders the Swan River. It was delightful to see how many people were out and enjoying the pleasant weather. When we reached the quay, we continued past it and crossed the Elizabeth Bridge, a well-designed pedestrian thoroughfare.
As is now tradition, we decided to visit the Warhammer store while visiting an Australian city. Unfortunately, the lore section didn’t have anything that I hadn’t already read so we left without a purchase.
We stopped at Voodoo Cafe for a couple of flat whites before continuing our walk. We ordered them short with an extra shot of espresso because, by default, it seems flat whites are only served with a single shot in Perth, leaving them a little milkier than we prefer.
Ready for a treat, we made our way to Chu Bakery where we lined up to grab something from this super popular spot. We ended up choosing a cinnamon twist and raspberry almond croissant to consume immediately and purchased a honey-sesame tart for later on in the day. We walked across the street to Hyde Park, grabbed a bench, fought off some pigeons, and enjoyed our treats. We strongly recommend visiting this bakery if you’re in Perth because the goods are absolutely delicious.
After ten miles of walking, we headed back to the hotel to relax and pack up for our early departure the following morning.
We departed the hotel at 0400 for our 0625 flight to Singapore. Check-in was quick and efficient, and we cleared immigration and customs without any issues. Once we made it airside, we spent the time before our flight in the small Singapore Airlines lounge. About fifteen minutes before boarding, we left the lounge and stretched our legs before the six hour flight to Singapore.
Our flight from Perth was on Singapore Airlines’ relatively new medium-haul 787-10, which I’ve flown before. I like the seats and the in-flight entertainment is very responsive. The service was good and I enjoyed my breakfast meal.
Upon arrival in Singapore, we were still unsure what our plans were for our eight-hour layover. We considered whether we wanted to go out into the city or just stay at the airport. We checked the weather forecast, which predicted thunderstorms, and decided to walk around the terminal instead of braving the heat and precipitation. This was the correct decision as, twenty minutes after deplaning, a four-hour torrential downpour started.
We spent several hours walking around the different terminals, and Angela was kind enough to photograph me at one of the many gardens inside the airport.
After getting our fill of the attractions, we headed to the Singapore Airlines lounge where we spent the next four hours eating a wide variety of delicious food. I also availed myself of the shower facilities.
We boarded our flight to Los Angeles in the early evening. Once on board, we settled in for the sixteen hour flight back to the United States. Angela and I both skipped dinner and slept for the first nine hours of the flight. Singapore Airlines’ long-haul A350 seats are the same as those installed on their older aircraft and neither Angela nor I find them particular comfortable. The bed, even with a mattress pad, is extremely firm. You’re also forced to angle your body across the seat in order to use the foot-well. I preferred using the seat in bed mode and sitting up against the hard shell and will likely rest like this the next time we take this flight.
Arriving in Los Angeles, we cleared immigration and customs in about fifteen seconds thanks to Global Entry, picked up our bags, and then found the shuttle to the Renaissance LAX where we stayed the night. The hotel is good for an overnight with a comfortable bed and spacious sitting area, but it certainly isn’t as nice as some of the other airport hotels we’ve stayed at internationally.
We visited the hotel’s lounge in the morning for breakfast and were pleasantly surprised by the spread. I enjoyed my hard-boiled eggs and sausage alongside a machine-made latte. We checked out and took the shuttle to the airport where we visited the relatively new Delta Sky Club. It was quite nice, and now that I know better, I’ll skip hotel breakfast and eat at the lounge instead.
Our flight home was a short hop in economy on a Delta jet. When we arrived in Las Vegas we secured our car at Terminal 3 before circling to Terminal 1 to pick up our luggage. We picked Fitz up at boarding to finish our trip. He seemed happy to see us.
Overall, we had a great trip. Fiji was beautiful, although we would recommend splurging and staying on one of the outlying islands if you’re looking for a true Fijian experience like you see in the brochures. Perth was a very nice city, but we both agree it is likely much better to visit in the summer rather than the winter as we did. It was nice to mark some adventurous activities off of our bucket list and our three days visiting with family made memories we both treasure.