Fiji is synonymous with white-sand beaches, island archipelagos and tropical cocktails—but of course, that’s never the whole story. There’s adventure to be had here—miles of it—as travel writer Sadie Whitelocks found out on a pre-pandemic hiking trip in paradise.

The clock struck midnight and I was sat on the ground in a tin shack, drinking kava—a mildly narcotic drink made from powdered plant roots—with a group of six men. The brown mud-colored liquid served in a coconut shell wasn’t having much effect on me, other than to make my lips and tongue numb. 

We were celebrating climbing Fiji’s highest peak, Mount Tomanivi (1,324 meters), but the kava was making me feel a little drowsy. I bid my fellow hikers goodnight, dodged a gaggle of chickens, and made it back to my village homestay for a well-earned snooze.

This little nook of Fiji was a world away from the honeymoon vision of the archipelago I’d had as a child. Of course, Fiji is awash with white-sand beaches and glistening blue waters but the interior is strewn with lush jungle waiting to be explored. Which is what I came for.