Winding through the green countryside surrounding Nadi’s international airport in an oversized tour bus, I was still trying to acclimate myself to my new surroundings. After a fairly comfortable overnight flight from LA, I was getting my first glimpse of my fellow festival goers as we tried to make sense of the 80% humidity and 80 degree weather that Fiji is famous for. The bus had AC thank god but that wouldn’t matter for long as we soon found ourselves on dock waiting to be ferried off to the music festival of our dreams. I must say that Your Paradise Fiji did not disappoint.
While some of the patrons I traveled with had been drinking since we left LA, this moment at the dock was our first chance to really wake up, stretch our legs and and fully realize that we had actually made it to Fiji. Looking to my left, I noticed that many of the artists who would be providing the soundtrack for the week-long fest had also been on our flight and were gathering with us exuding the same energy and excitement. To them this was work, a chance to do what they love in front of a unique audience in one of the most beautiful locations on earth. For everybody else, this was the party we had always dreamt of and not only would we be witness to some incredible sets from our favorite DJs, but we would also get a chance to just hang out and be a part of this whole thing together. As our ferry made its way through the calm turquoise waters of the Pacific, the boys from Desert Hearts pulled out a bottle of tequila and the festival began.
I can hardly remember checking in and that wasn’t because of the drinks on the way over. The staff of Your Paradise Fiji were pros, which you would expect from a core team that was now in their sixth year of producing this event. Before I knew it, I had my room and cash card and as soon as I was able to get rid of my bags we were on the beach with a drink in hand.
This was the largest crowd that the Your Paradise team had brought to Fiji’s Manamuca Islands since the festival began in 2014. Over 700 people (with 1/4 arriving from the US) came together for this years fest, but the event never felt crowded. The unique part of this boutique festival is that you really feel like you are on vacation. Beyond the nightly scheduled lineups on the main stage, patrons were free to pretty much do as they pleased, which meant there was plenty of time for activities like snorkeling, skydiving and surfing, which were all easily accessible from both resorts on the island.
Once the festival officially began the following day, so did the “add on experiences.” These day time party events with limited capacity were what really made this festival unlike anything I had ever been to before. There were boat parties with just 100 or so people featuring What So Not, Gorgon City, Mija and and others, with some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever witnessed while partying.
Then there was Cloud 9, a legendary party platform that is anchored out in the middle of the ocean. Surrounded by schools of friendly fish, you could actually jump off the platform into the warmest ocean water you have ever felt in your life. This was one of the few places where you could really splurge on a full bar and the wood fire pizza oven on deck pumped out pies that I am still dreaming about to this day. Again with only 100 or so people able to fit on the wooden structure, B2B sets from Mikey Lion, Marbs and Lee Reynolds from Desert Hearts, as well as Jack Beats, Chris Lorenzo, and AC Slater from Night Bass kept the party flowing for hours at a time. A special set from A-Trak on the final party on Cloud 9 was a real treat that I will never forget.
Other epic day time events included an Anjunadeep day party at the ridiculous Mala Mala Beach club and a sunrise yoga trip at the area's famous sand bar. If there was one negative thing you could say about this festival is that it just goes by so fast, making it hard to find time for everything. I quickly realized that would be impossible to do it all so I just went with the flow. I don’t think I could have planned for a better time.
The main stage is what really brought everybody together at this event. As the sun would make its way beyond the palm trees every night, the bass from the speakers would get louder and louder, drawing people away from the resort cafes and bars and onto the island’s sandy dance floor. A large wooden structure surrounded the decks where the words “Your Paradise” were lit up by bright neon and before you knew it, you were under the stars with your new best friends listening to sets from acts like The Blaze, Getter, and everybody else who I had mentioned from the day parties. There were special moments with fireworks and fire dancing and every night felt better than the last as the party only stopped when we just couldn’t stay awake any longer.
Your Paradise Fiji Main Stage
After years of attending many of America’s mega festivals, for the first time, in a long time, I felt a little bit of that magic that got me started working in music over a decade ago. One of the biggest assets that this festival had going for it was the crowd. There were people who had met on Holy Ship and were now traveling the word together. I met crews who found each other at festivals like Dirty Bird Campout, Coachella and EDC who then found out about Your Paradise and couldn’t miss out on the adventure. There were kids who had never left their homes in New Zealand or Australia and I was surprised at how many married couples with kids were able to make the journey. Combined, this class from Your Paradise Fiji 2019 created an incredible energy that is just impossible to find at a big festival these days. Even if you didn’t get a chance to meet everybody or go to all of the extra parties, the vibe on the dance floor of the main stage was inescapable. We were all in this big beautiful thing together and nothing in the world could go wrong.
But just like that, it was all over. Some of the DJs had already made it off the island the night before to catch flights to their next gigs. My crew and I slowly packed our lives back up, stopping to buy a few souvenirs for our families before we would get back on the boat and then a bus to another 12 hour flight back to LAX. I remember trying to get comfortable on the plane before we left and thinking to myself about what had just happened over the last week.
While I wasn’t getting paid to attend this festival nor was I covering it in any official capacity for Magnetic, I knew I wanted to write something about my time with Your Paradise Fiji. While the festival world in America continues to figure itself out here after years of over saturation and declining ticket sales, I think it's more important than ever for consumers to really think about what they could be getting for their money when it comes to the festivals they go to.
When an event truly transcends from just an on-location concert, to a full on experience that takes you away from all your troubles and connects you to something much bigger, that's when you know you really have something special. At that point the event price tag becomes trivial. This is the gift that I took home from Your Paradise Fiji. I know nothing will compare to this first trip, but I know there is another incredible adventure waiting for me in December this year that is worth every penny.