Each wedding anniversary deserves a special celebration, and given the dramatic circumstances surrounding Pierre Png and Andrea De Cruz’s union – one year before they wed, Pierre donated part of his liver to Andrea when hers failed after she took slimming pills – each marital milestone must be especially poignant for the couple.
While romantic Pierre declares that “every day is a special, meaningful day for us, so our anniversary is just a significant date,” they were delighted with the chance to mark their 15th wedding anniversary in a country neither had ever visited: Fiji. Says Andrea, laughing, “The only thing I knew about Fiji before the trip was Fiji Water!” But post-trip, it’s clear the couple can’t wait for a return visit.
Here are the celeb couple’s recommendations on what to do in the sun-drenched archipelago known for its beaches, coral reefs and clear lagoons, as well as the friendliness of the Fijians that makes a difference to the whole experience.
1. Island-hop on a yacht
Andrea: There are many small islands in Fiji and an island-hopping yacht trip is the best way to explore them all. The staff on the yacht made it such an unforgettable journey. They served us a feast of fruits like pineapple and papaya, and they were really entertaining – they sang to us and wove headgear and animals out of leaves for us.
Pierre: I remember they made a kite, and even a fish attached to a line. Each piece was so intricate, like a piece of art.
2. Have a romantic dinner by the beach
Andrea: We sat by the beach and had dinner as we watched the sunset… it was absolutely gorgeous.
Pierre: The staff even serenaded us when they found out it was our wedding anniversary.
Andrea: Oh, and the lobsters we had for dinner were amazing! I was greedy and ordered seconds!
3. Go on an underwater scooter adventure
Pierre: I’ve always loved water sports, but I haven’t done any since the [liver] transplant [to Andrea] because Andrea can’t stay out in the sun for long. So this was a great opportunity for me to rekindle my love for sea sports. The underwater scooter was fun and easy to use even if you don’t know how to dive, and I discovered that Fiji has amazing coral reefs. I’ve seen many coral reefs in my day, and Fiji definitely has some of the best reefs I’ve ever seen.
4. Snorkel with sharks
Pierre: This sounds scary but it wasn’t scary at all! I was probably less than 5m away from the sharks and could watch how the sharks interacted with each other and the other fishes. It’s amazing to be able to observe them in their natural environment at the beautiful Moyia Reef off Barefoot Kuata Island.
Andrea: Pierre used to work at Underwater World in Sentosa, so he knew what he was doing.
Pierre: I was even telling the guide how to differentiate between male and female sharks!
5. Enjoy a beach bonfire
Andrea: We hear The Westin doesn’t light the bonfire very often, so we felt extra special when it was lit for us at sunset. The bonfire was huge!
Pierre: They also had a band that serenaded us, and some of the guests at the nearby chalets got so curious they came out to watch what was going on.
6. Discover modern Fijian cuisine
Andrea: Chef Lance Seeto at the Malamala Beach Club was really great. He told us how good coconut is for us – they use coconut milk and oil in so many dishes in Fiji.
Pierre: I love the Fish Kokoda he prepared for us, which is raw fish that’s cured in lime juice and served with freshly-squeezed coconut milk. That was my favourite dish of the whole trip.
7. Visit the Fiji Cultural Village
Pierre: When you go to a cultural village, it can sometimes feel boring or cheesy. But this was nothing like that. There were people walking around dressed in traditional outfits, showing visitors what village life used to be like. We even visited the headman of the village and asked him questions… like how many wives he could have! Haha!
Andrea: There were also huts where you could watch the villagers do things like pottery and wood carving with ancient tools. I remember they were very proud of their weapons.
Pierre: There was even a performance where they re-enacted how Western life was introduced to the island – I played the village chief and it was so much fun.
8. Ride a quad bike
Andrea: We went on a quad bike tour that took us off the beaten path to explore an area further inland. It took us through a village, and it was interesting to see what everyday life is like for the locals.
9. Play with mud
Andrea: Visiting the Sabeto Mud Pool was a unique experience, because you don’t actually soak in mud. There’s a tub of mud at the pools, and you slather that all over yourself and stay in the sun until the mud dries. This is supposed to moisturise your skin. After you’re dry, you wash yourself in the pond, and voila -- you have smoother, glowing skin.
Pierre: I’m just glad we went together, because I don’t know how I would’ve gotten the mud off my back!
10. Go stand-up paddling
Andrea: I’m not a sun, sand or sea person. I’m actually absolutely terrified of water, and I’d never tried any water sports until this stand-up paddling experience in Fiji. I found it really fun – the waters were very still, and snorkelling at the sand bank meant the water was shallow and I didn’t need to be afraid even if I fell off my longboard into the water. It ended up being a very leisurely, relaxing experience.
11. Snorkel at Coral Gardens
Pierre: I’m so proud of Andrea for snorkelling for the first time here. She’s always scared of being submerged in water, so this was a huge challenge for her. But she did really well.
Andrea: Stand-up paddling was like my water sports training ground, and gave me the confidence to try snorkelling. It was magical seeing what was under the crystal clear waters. Now I have a better idea of why people fall in love with water sports.
12. Visit a market
Andrea: We visited a local market while we were on the quad bike tour, and it felt very familiar, a little like our local Tekka Market. The produce on sale was very familiar, with lots of fresh veggies, chillies, tomatoes and a huge variety of local fruits.
13. Drink kava
Pierre: From the moment we landed in Fiji, the one thing that everyone we met told us to try was kava, Fiji’s “national drink” that’s made with the root of a pepper plant, which is pounded into powder and filtered into water like tea.
Andrea: That naturally made us very curious about what it tasted like.
Pierre: We finally managed to try it at the market we visited on the quad bike tour and it tasted very… unique, almost earthy. We’d heard that kava can give you a numbing and relieving sensation, and I felt its effects almost immediately, when my lips and throat started getting warm as I drank.
14. Hang with the locals
Andrea: If there was one thing that made our trip special, it was the people.
Pierre: From the moment we got on the plane and were greeted by the stewardesses on Fiji Airways to the staff at the airport, everyone had a huge smile on their faces and was so welcoming.
Andrea: Even the people you pass on the street would say “Bula” – which is “hello” in Fijian – to us. Total strangers, but they were all so nice!
Pierre: I made such good friends there, and I can’t wait to go back again to catch up with my “brothers” from the Cultural Village. We spent only three hours together, but we had such a great time that we exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. That’s how nice the people there are.
15. Embrace “Fiji time”
Pierre: The moment we landed at the airport, it seemed like everything slowed down and moved on “Fiji time”, where everything and everyone is chill and relaxed. It was such a relief after the hustle and bustle of our daily lives in Singapore. In Fiji, you get to slow down and enjoy every moment of what you’re doing.
Check out this vid of their relaxing trip together.
Fiji Airways operates twice-weekly direct flights between Singapore and Fiji (with thrice-weekly flights in the peak month of April).