The International Dateline is one of those travel destinations that often eludes even the hardiest of buckettrippers. It’s out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the place where today becomes tomorrow or where yesterday is really today. Travel east and you lose a day. Travel west and you gain a day.Technically, the International Dateline is located at the 180º line of longitude. The problem is – there are not many places where that line actually touches land, thus allowing you to stand in both today and tomorrow at the same time.
Fiji is one of those places where you can do it.
In Your Bucket Because…
- The people of Fiji are among the friendliest, happiest people on the planet.
- Cannibalism hasn’t been practiced here in years.
- Good for those who love scuba diving, snorkeling and water sports.
Where Exactly is Fiji?
Fiji is one of those beautiful South Pacific island nations where you expect Rodgers and Hammerstein-wannabes to jump from behind a palm tree and break into song. That English is one of the official languages of Fiji makes it an easier travel experience for most North Americans, although the flight from Los Angeles is still about 10 hours into Nadi (pronounced Nan-di).It’s not really near anywhere. New Zealand is about 1200 miles south and Australia is about 2000 miles east.
Made up of 320 islands, Fiji requires an airplane or a boat for getting around. I chose Captain Cook Cruises, in part because they promised to take me to the International Dateline. We were on the Reef Endeavor, a small ship with the capacity for just 130 passengers, thus making it easier for the boat to snuggle up close to many of those islands and wiggle in and out of coves that big ships just can’t maneuver.
It had everything you want on a cruise – lots of good food, a small spa service, a swimming pool, evening entertainment and an attentive, professional staff. Many of the guests were from Australia or New Zealand, so that was fun talking with them and hearing their perspective on life. In addition to a visit to the International Dateline, the shore excursions offered included swimming at Bouma Falls, attending a Fijian language church service and an authentic village kava ceremony. Of course, there are lots of opportunities for swimming, diving the coral reefs and just soaking up that South Pacific sun.
Finding the International Dateline
- The International Dateline makes landfall on the island of Taveuni, a place we visited on a Sunday morning.There were no signs, no streams of traffic or tourists to follow. No lines. If our guide from the boat hadn’t led the way, I would not have had a clue which way to go.
- We made our way across what appeared to be a soccer field or sporting venue of some kind toward a grove of trees and a little tin shack of some kind. The shack, as it turned out, was an Assembly of God Church located right on the 180th meridian. So were they worshiping on Saturday or Sunday, or was it Monday already? But then under the little grove of trees a few feet from the church was a rather beat up sign.
This was it. This was the International Dateline.
At first it was a little underwhelming. There wasn’t so much as a chalk line painted on the well-worn ground and the sign was in serious need of some maintenance and a fresh coat of paint.
- There were no T-shirt vendors or vendors of any kind selling over-priced chotskies with “international dateline” stamped on it. There was no one selling ice cream or anyone offering to take your picture for an outrageous tip.
- It was kind of amazing and refreshing – a place that has not been spoiled by the economics of the travel and tourism business.
- We all took each others’ pictures and stood around for a while, then returned to the boat, with a sense of satisfaction.
- So, check that one off my bucket list. I’ve stood on the International Dateline and cruised the Fijian islands. How about you?
- Captain Cook Cruises offers three, four and seven night cruises.
- The Northern Island Cruise takes you to the International Dateline.
- The wet season in Fiji is from November to April.
- Not really a great cruise for young kids.