There is no better way to make friends for life then to strip to near nakedness and rub each other down with mud. No, I’m not talking about some sleazy mud action, I’m talking about the Sabeto Hot Springs in the foothills of the Sabeto Mountains about 20 minutes north of Nadi in Fiji. Now I have to admit I’m not really a spa treatment type of guy, I love a good massage (hell who doesn’t?), but the idea of getting mud pushed into every crevice of my body for everyone to see wasn’t exactly something that I thought would be relaxing. So when I rocked up to the springs with two of my colleagues, stripped down to my bathers in a middle of a field (subsequently blinding everyone in the local vicinity with my overly pasty British skin) and was then unceremoniously slapped with buckets full of mud by a very friendly Fijian man, I thought my worst nightmares had come true. Then, I slipped into the first hot spring and my fears and anxiety melted away…
The process is rather simple: get muddy, jump into the first mildly hot mud spring and get even more mud thrust into places you never thought possible, jump into the second hotter spring and begin to clean mud off and then jump into the final roaring hot spring and ponder if your life with ever be the same again without daily hot springs and mud baths. By the end I forgot my concerns and awkwardness of mud bathing with people I hardly knew and somehow, miraculously, began to feel very chilled out. My muscles relaxed and my breathing slowed and I finally understood why hot springs were famed around the world for their healing properties, even if at the start I felt like a buffalo in a waterhole.
The Sabeto Hot Springs have been a favourite spot of the local community for years however only recently have they upgraded their facilities to attract more travellers keen to enjoy the natural benefits that thermal springs offer. However don’t expect the western idea of spa treatments, this is a very natural experience with minimal facilities and little privacy – which adds to the whole experience in my opinion. Plus you’re supporting the local community. The cost was about 50FJD for the treatment including a massage and you can travel there by taxi or bus.
Just a word of warning, it’s not a good idea to wear your best swimming gear as it probably won’t ever be the same again.