The 9th edition of David Stanley’s Fiji guidebook just came out (January 2011). Here’s my (updated) review:
“Been there, done that” doesn’t begin to describe this author’s credibility. I finally had to confess to him that the nature of his writing had greatly delayed my review of this very fine guide to Fiji. Each turn of the page had me mentally traveling to yet another of the Fiji Island’s hidden gems -and that sort of travel takes time!
David Stanley is a bona fide expert on traveling the South Pacific and the author of several Moon guidebooks. His Moon Fiji guide is a must-have reference for anyone contemplating a trip to these South Pacific islands. Everything is covered in practical detail from the extensive trip planning section that outlines the islands’ “personalities” and suggests potential itineraries geared to travelers’ available time and interests to chapters on the features and attractions of Fiji’s varied islands themselves.
This book is meant to acquire bent pages and bookmarks. Listings include far more than the usual price points, feature names and contact information. Lodging, restaurant and tour descriptions include specific suggestions gleaned from Mr. Stanley’s years of “stealth” reviewing (he doesn’t announce his presence, preferring to travel in the mode of the travelers who rely on his books). He is candid about what is worth your money and where you might prefer to spend your limited time.
Occasionally one feels as if Mr Stanley has slipped in a page from his personal travel journal which makes for some very entertaining reading:
“Despite the Members Only sign, you’re welcome to enter the Ovalau Club… You’ll meet genuine South Seas characters here, and the place is brimming with atmosphere…. Ask the bartender to show you the framed letter from Count Felix Von Luckner, the World War I German sea wolf…”
The insets are noteworthy. Brief but highly descriptive, they encapsulate key elements of culture, history, flora and fauna and cover topics such as the mechanics of a sugar mill, the South Pacific’s 15-minute stock exchange and the significance of being given a whale’s tooth. These alone make the book a fascinating read for those curious about far-off Fiji.
Looking at this modest-sized book, jammed with information and yet surprisingly quite easy to navigate, I’m reminded of one of those stuffed clown cars at the circus and wonder how did he do it? Masterful organization is the key. David Stanley’s guidebook ensures no Fiji traveler will need to similarly stuff their luggage; his book and a few other travel essentials (clearly outlined on page 13) are all an adventurer really needs.