BulaMe Seven Journalists Explore Fiji
Luxurious Bula Spirit by Fionna Hill Release Your Tensions, Renew Your Spirit by Claire Smith Fiji For Families by Narelle Bouveng New Faces by Martin Tiffany Islands Of Romance by Peter Malcouronne Cruise Fiji by Sarah Lang Dive, Dive, Dive by Colin Gans
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Cultural Centre and Market Place
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*Map does not list all Hotels/Resorts
4 Luxurious Bula Spirit by Fionna Hill
Islands Of Romance by Peter Malcouronne
8 Release Your Tensions, Renew Your Spirit by Claire Smith
Cruise Fiji by Sarah Lang
Rewa River Vugalei
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Viti Levu Bay
12 Fiji For Families by Narelle Bouveng
Dive, Dive, Dive by Colin Gans
16 New Faces by Martin Tiffany
Bula vinaka! There really never has been a better time to visit Fiji – our ever-evolving, sun-blessed islands offer the perfect escape from a harsh New Zealand winter – and its only just a few hours away. And we hope that after reading our Bula magazine, it will get you thinking about a well earned Fiji holiday. Remember our islands have something to suit everyone - from romantic hideaways to fun-ﬁlled family holidays, from lush luxury island resorts to boutique cruising and a huge range of soft adventure activities. And for those looking for excitement, Fiji now rivals any destination in the world with its evergrowing range of soft adventure activities – Zip lining, white water rafting, surﬁng, jet boating, hot air ballooning and 4WD trekking to name just a few. But without a doubt the main reason Kiwis keep returning to Fiji year after year is the wonderful, smiling Fijian people and their heartfelt ’Bula Spirit’ which remains one of our most endearing qualities. ’Bula’ is a unique concept, it can’t be faxed or emailed or sent by messenger. ‘Bula’ can only be experienced from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, ‘Bula to Bula’. So as it gets colder in New Zealand, why not call your nearest travel agent and ask about the latest Fiji package holiday deals and come on over - everyone is waiting to welcome you ‘back home’.
Luxurious Bula By Fionna Hill
our spas in a week. My body is as clearly designed for taller guests. At 5’2”, relaxed as a blancmange. Eyebrows every time I lay down I slid forward and shaped, toenails trimmed and almost went under. It’s not the ﬁrst time cherry red. I could get used to this; surely I’ve wished to be taller. Sink I nearly did. it’s my destiny to bask in the bliss that I’ve All the rooms are beachfront in buildings found in ﬁve of Fiji’s top luxury resorts. no more than two levels... no high rise The pampering is perfection, the meals monsters here. On the ﬁrst morning when sublime, the experience is heaven. But I opened the curtains there was a huge what make them extraordinary is the sparkling white ocean liner rising up out people who provide them. The Fijians are of the sea not far out in the blue bay. At smiling, captivating, friendly people who breakfast charming waitress Salote offers often say ‘Welcome home’ and mean it. me a fourth cup of coffee; I decline and They remembered my name too. They waddle off towards the spa. made my visit unique. A glass of iced camomile and vanilla My ﬁrst step into paradise is the Hiltontea is served before I dangle my feet in managed Fiji Resort and Spa at Denerau, a beaten silver bowl of warm liquid with where I sink into the huge bath that heady scented frangipani ﬂowers strewn awaits me. From all around. Masseuse the tempting potions Meme tends my lined up I choose careworn feet then ‘Energising Sea Moss’. administers a blissful It has to be said that and long massage. I may have cancelled It’s time for a walk out the ‘energising’ along the shore. bit as I poured a duty There are coconut free scotch to drink palms everywhere while I wallowed. and vibrant tropical This generous and ﬂowers and foliage. luxurious tub was I paddle along in the Massage Bure by the beach at the Fiji Beach Resort and Spa - Hilton
Spirit warm sea. It’s beautiful to look out to the islands and soft clouds. At night a card on my pillow wishes me sweet dreams and tells me that the weather tomorrow will be sunny...good
village, so traditional is the style. The impressive main building is in the design of a Fijian canoe house. A Fijian group with ukuleles and good voices serenades us on the jetty. Likuliku is the ﬁrst and only resort in Fiji with over-water bures. They rise up out of the sea on poles and have glass panels in the ﬂoor. The bath has a view out to the paciﬁc and the sunset. Décor of Likuliku is understated, using local materials; traditional designs and architecture; the sprawling ceilings are lined with mangrove branches, the
other. This won’t work. So I move back to the top step, slap on some suntan lotion and settle in for a bit of r & r. Lunch is iced passionfruit & orange cooler with a morsel of tandoori chicken, cucumber and mint yoghurt. The main I chose is semolina crusted cuttleﬁsh, salad of wild rocket, long beans, roasted capsicum and citrus aioli followed by iced lime & white chocolate parfait, shaved
“A card on my pillow wishes me sweet dreams”
news I’m travelling by boat to Likuliku. It’s a two hour trip, meandering through islands dropping passengers off at various spots. I’m blown away that some of these islands are tiny little mounds in the ocean. They look unreal, like a children’s book illustration. We arrive at Likuliku on Malolo Island; from the water it looks like an ancient
ﬂoors are rich mahogany wood and there are local artefacts as well as present-day lifestyle touches. I have a deluxe shore bure. My personal plunge pool near the shore and looking out west to the Paciﬁc Ocean is tempting. I change into my old, sagging togs, hop in and sit on the second underwater step… too low. Too short yet again. I have to hold my arms up as if I were being measured by a dressmaker. I have a magazine in one hand and a glass of champagne in the
Pool at Likuliku Lagoon Resort
lychee and lemongrass infused syrup. The food is superb; so is the presentation. I don’t want to leave this place. But I should have known that another treat is at hand, this time in the form of the Paciﬁc Coast and Taunovo Beach Resort and Spa. It’s about two hours from Denerau by road. The resort has just been accepted into the exclusive ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’ fold. And I can understand why. My beachfront suite has a large four poster bed with mozzie net and looks towards
“The resort has just been accepted into the exclusive ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’ fold.” the Paciﬁc; bright hibiscus ﬂowers are strategically placed throughout. I have yet another spa - a pedicure; legs exfoliated with a delicious mix of white ginger lily perfume, cane sugar and coconut oil; the nail polish selection is produced from the fridge and I exit via the beach to sample a Fiji Gold at the open air beach bar. I love ﬁshing and there’s a boat going out in an hour with two snorkellers. The novice snorkellers leap in with the guidance of a
local professional diver and we speed off to a ﬁshing spot. Charlie chops squid and baits the hooks. I greedily ask for two lines. No luck. Never mind...there’s tuna on the lunch menu. In the distance from the boat I can see a little blob on the horizon....Royal Davui...my next stop. We arrive at the tiny Royal Davui pier. The tide’s out and the sea bottom reveals its dazzling coral. Small electric blue shapes with tails zip and zing through the water. They’re the most gorgeous tropicals called Parrot ﬁsh. There is a bright blue starﬁsh too...apparently famous around here. This lagoon - the Beqa has some of the best diving in Fiji. Everything from soft coral to shipwrecks is found within the protective lagoon reef system. Voted as Most Romantic Island Hideaway in the South Paciﬁc, Caribbean and Atlantic by Conde Nast in 2007 and 2008, the adult’s only resort is the only one on the nine acre island. Only 16 Vales (the Fijian word for home) have been built all around the island so that every one has a view and tropical planting and is not overlooked by any other buildings. There’s a sign saying ‘Beware of falling coconuts’; but no worries they’re denutted on a regular basis. I go to lunch with hands like pink prunes.
I’ve been in my Jacuzzi again! Nearly slipped under again too! There’s room for two in it but I’m on my own and it’s spacious as usual. Still lovely with spouts of water shooting all over the place. I have my own private plunge pool complete with sea view. Lunch is fresh caught
yellow ﬁn tuna, nicoise salad and lemon mayonnaise. Divine. I borrow some boat shoes from the marine centre and walk right around the island at low tide. It’s pristine. Crabs scuttle sideways out of my way, there are lovely shells and chunks of coral washed up, birds and silence except for the soft waves. The surrounding reef is a marine sanctuary. Dinner is sashimi made from tuna...soft and mouth-watering with ginger soy and wasabi. My main is seared mahimahi with vegetables, crabmeat and tomato conﬁt and lemon beurre blanc. I’m the only diner left in the restaurant by 8.30 PM.... Royal Davui is a favourite destination for honeymooners. My last taste of luxury is 15 minutes from
© Likuliku Lagoon Resort
Nadi Airport. It is the Fiji Orchid, former home of actor Raymond Burr. It is set in ﬁve acres of tropical gardens and close to Saweni Beach with established trees, masses of orchids and a large swimming pool. Great for a long
stay or to book a dayroom if you have a transit wait for your next destination. My bure (there are only six) is teak and glass and has an almost space age feel. I savour a whole slipper lobster grilled with lemon butter and served in the immaculate shell. I have discovered Fiji as it should be — an indulgent journey to wander through at a leisurely pace. It provides a unique ambiance and top class luxury experiences, not to mention the smiling, captivating people who make the experience unique. And it’s close to home. Vinaka vakalevu.
© Westin Denarau Resort and Spa
s Auckland’s too-short summer fades like a memory and another frigid winter settles in, I can’t imagine a better place to be than the warm shores of Fiji. And most years, that’s exactly what I do… imagine. But this year, I’m putting the deadlines on hold, trading my winter woolies for sulus and sunblock and leaving the kids with Nana while hubby and I escape
to reconnect and relax. But I’m not just talking the standard ‘lying on the beach, reading a book’ type of relaxation. After many years of holiday-less hard slog, this weary writer is heading off for some serious hands-on spa treatment at a selection of Fiji’s worldrenowned spa resorts. To kick off our Fiji experience, we check in at the exquisite Outrigger on the Lagoon on Fiji’s Coral Coast. After a hearty welcome by the friendly staff we’re treated to champagne and nightcaps in our bure (here’s to relaxation!). The next day it was time to get down to some serious unwinding at the Outrigger’s impressive Spa, ‘Bebe’ (pronounced Behm beh), which is Fijian for butterﬂy, a theme reﬂected throughout the spa in its symmetry and beauty. Bebe’s selection of treatments reads like a tasty restaurant menu with such mouthwatering tempters as the Green Coffee Body Wrap, Fresh Sugar Cane Body Glow and Coconut Cream Scrub. Feeling the need for a little heat, I’ve selected the Sabai Stone Therapy Massage while Karl is set to enjoy a Fijian ‘Bobo’ (pronounced Bombo) Massage. Therapist Romina begins my stone massage with a warm foot rub before covering my back
and legs with aromatic lavender oil. Next, hot malachite and zincite stones are placed along selected body points. The warmth melts deep into my muscles before the stones are massaged over my skin, releasing years of tension. At the end of my massage I’m feeling a bit like a butterﬂy myself – free of all those earthly aches and stresses and ready to ﬂoat off into the sunset. Karl’s Bobo Massage is uniquely Fijian with the therapist using her hands, elbows, and
forearms to massage in a warm coconut oil, although I’m wondering if she might need a massage herself after such a workout. Our afternoon of luxury was capped off with cocktails at Bebe’s Kalokalo lounge which overlooks the spa offering views that are
Release Your Tension, Re
another level of magniﬁcence. Although it was hard to farewell such an idyllic resort, it was time to move on to the next leg of our journey, Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and signature CHI Spa. CHI features the largest and most luxurious spa bures in Fiji and bases its therapies on the Five Elements Theory in which Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth are balanced to harmonise with the positive Yang and negative Yin energy within the body. We’re in for a real treat at CHI with a ‘Dusk till Dawn’ spa package. Designed for couples, the treatment is given in a private spa bure which ours for the night and begins with a Himalayan Bath Therapy. Picture a private outdoor bath with sea views, gently scented and softly lit with candles, hibiscus and
“A quick rinse off in the shower and it’s time for the main course” bougainvillea ﬂowers ﬂoating on the surface and a platter of fresh Fijian fruits with lemon tea… sound like heaven? That’s just the beginning.
After an exfoliation using all natural ingredients, we’re led into the adjoining steam room. Feeling a little like basted chickens heading to the oven, the steam proves extremely cleansing and therapeutic. A quick rinse off in the shower and it’s time for the main course – a 90 minute Aroma Vitality Massage. Bringing together the elements of Swedish massage, shiatsu
Renew Your Spirit
and reﬂexology, the massage is designed to strengthen your vital energy and renew your spirit. And indeed it does. Now fully tenderized, we’re left to enjoy a spa cuisine meal on our private deck whilst watching a spectacular electrical storm dance across the water. As dawn arrives, the stormy night before has given way to the glow of another warm and sunny Fijian day. Our therapists return with a healthy breakfast before ﬁnishing our treatment with a refreshing CHI Facial. Knots undone, tension relieved and spirits renewed, we both feel lighter in body and mind. As a departing gift we’re each given a bottle of massage oil speciﬁc to our personalities. Apparently I’m a Wood personality, Karl is Metal… either way, they smell incredible and will be well used upon our return home! A short but friendly taxi ride later and we arrive at Fiji’s newest resort, the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. Set on 35 acres of tropical gardens, the InterContinental is surrounded by stunning views of Natadola Bay - considered one of the best white sand surf beaches in the South Paciﬁc. I leave Karl enjoying the super-soft bed and the super-sized ﬂat screen while I discover the Spa InterContinental. Today I’ve booked a massage that is so good, it requires four hands. The Vaka-Cegu (Four-Hand Mind and Body Massage), uses a hot herbal poultice of sweet basil and kafﬁr lime during a warm oil massage by two therapists (easier to ﬁnd than one therapist with four hands). Kancham and Lusiana unite their soothing strokes giving the effect of being washed over by warm (but ﬁrm) waves. Soft background music and sweet aromatic
smells ﬁll the air and seem to lift me right off the table and send me somewhere magical. After my massage I head to Spa InterContinental’s Wai Zone and melt into the warm hydrotherapy pool complete with hydroresistance pressure jets for extra massaging. The Wai Zone also includes a steam-room and an ice-room. The three different states of water are provided for their remedial beneﬁts and can help in the repair of tired and damaged muscles as well as being extremely soothing and relaxing. We topped off our blissful stay at the InterContinental with poolside cocktails at sunset before a ﬁrst-class meal at Navo, the resort’s elegant restaurant with the most outstanding staff and equally outstanding food. Just when I thought my muscles were permanently tenderized, they decided to reclench as we stepped onboard a teeny-tiny 18-seater plane the next day for our somewhat turbulent ﬂight to Savusavu. Not a fan of ﬂying,
“Just when I thought my muscles were permanently tenderized” the experience was boundary-pusher to say the least. But after a few deep breathing exercises and last minute promises to God, we arrived at the most incredible destination yet. With a string of accolades including Ultimate Romance Resort (Island Destinations 2008) and Number One Spa in Fiji, (Luxury 2004), the Namale Resort is simply awe-inspiring. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens and overlooking the Koro Sea, Namale is a both place of discovery and a sanctuary to reconnect with yourself and each other. Namale’s 10,000 square foot spa is the jewel in the resort’s crown. Our ‘Moonlight Magic’ treatment began with a luxurious milk footbath before moving into our massage room which was adorned with candles and showered with petals. Our therapists, Mere and Peniana came highly recommended for their knot-removing expertise. Now, I wasn’t actually sure I had any knots left to remove at this stage, but apparently I did, and Peniana found every one. She discovered muscles I didn’t know existed, she possibly discovered bones I didn’t know existed. Our magical treatment concluded with a luxurious soak in the hydro-therapy room’s Jacuzzi
(complete with champagne and fruit and cheese platters). The hydro-therapy room also includes a waterfall and aromatherapy baths each overlooking the magniﬁcent ocean views below. Relaxed to the max, we returned to our villa to enjoy a superb three-course meal and a movie... paradise? Oh yes, believe me…. Namale is ofﬁcially my new ‘happy place’ and will be readily conjured during times of children bickering, deadlines looming and long Auckland winters. With just a day to go in Fiji, we’re both feeling pretty jolly relaxed and while Karl has had his ﬁll of spa treatments, I’m already wondering how I’ll cope at home without such pampering. Our ﬁnal day is spent at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa - awarded the 2008 title of Fiji’s Leading Spa Resort and Fiji’s Leading Golf Resort at the World Travel Awards Australasia. Surrounded by sea and sunshine, The Westin’s Heavenly Spa takes pride of place within 1350m² of lush mediation gardens. My treatment of choice is a 30 minute Essential Massage. Using Thalgo and Pure Fiji products, my therapist Siteri gets to work on my upper back and shoulders. The technique used is Swedish with deep and direct pressure on those achy upper areas. Surrounded by the
soothing song of Fijian Bulbul birds and a chorus of frogs, I drift off into a light sleep under Siteri’s gentle hands before heading back to our room for the most blissful sleep ever. We’ve been massaged, oiled, steamed and soaked at some of Fijis most outstanding resort spas. We’ve met the most incredible people on the planet and received a hearty BULA! at every turn… Back in Auckland, winter is unforgiving and the deadlines are piling up once again, but my muscles are so well massaged that they might just hold out until our next Fiji escape – yes kids, you can come this time. Dad will hang out in the pool with you… and well, you know where I’ll be.
White sand curving into a sea of turquoise. Singing voices drifting through leaning palms. Moonlit dinners over shimmering waters. The body and mind refreshed, sanity restored. Until you work your magic again another year.
© Narelle Bouveng
Fijian warrior entertaining guests at Castaway
by Narelle Bouveng
he current global economic climate had left our family holiday budget looking rather bleak, so when words like “all inclusive” and “kids stay and eat free” appear alongside cheap ﬂights and reasonable accommodation rates, the choice for us was simple – we were heading to Fiji. A short ﬂight is a bonus with kids in tow. And within a few hours of leaving a cold, wet and windy winter behind, we were basking in the sun on a tropical palm fringed beach and frolicking in warm tiffany blue waters like a pod of delirious dolphins at our ﬁrst family stop, beautiful Castaway Island. Castaway Island is a deﬁnite high ﬁve for families and just a quick two hour glide by boat from Port Denerau which can be reached easily by bus or an affordable cab transfer from Nadi airport. Sixty six grass thatched bures dot the islands idyllic shores and are comfortably
furnished with a spacious master bedroom, en suite bathroom and living area including two generous day beds which offer kids their sleeping quarters at night.
“Castaway Island is a deﬁnite high ﬁve for families.” The Castaway Kids Club is a major attraction, open from 9.00am to 9.00pm everyday. Kids are welcomed into their very own family where action, adventure and
Castaway from the water
“awesomeness” are all part of the daily regime. Fijian kids’ club staff quickly became my kid’s new best friends. Secret handshakes, naughty nicknames and the playfulness of puppies is all part of the kids’ club’s warm appeal and whether they were beachcombing for shells and hermit crabs, discovering the reef while snorkelling or playing a game of touch football on the beach – the kids revelled in their element, footloose and completely fancy free. Parents are encouraged to do what they
do best – which in my case was nothing - but some adventurous souls circumnavigated the island by canoe, joined in the beach sports with the kids or selected from an array of free and optional extra motorised water activities like jet-skiing, parasailing and deep sea ﬁshing. Arranging an affordable meal package with your accommodation ensures you can eat as much as you please for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also indulge in free pizzas at the bar in between. Add the purchase of a handful of cocktails (beverages are extra) alongside copious wallowing in water as warm as a bath and Castaway Island offers prescription strength respite from that “other world” that we were happy to leave behind. If a mainland stay is your preference,
style pool. Pool service allows snacks and beverages to be ordered without interrupting tanning and the Hotels Spa is located poolside so you can drift in and out whenever a stress melting massage is required. We took advantage of a recent 20 per cent devaluation of the Fiji Dollar by opting for interconnecting rooms so that the kids had their own reﬁned space, while we were able to blissfully (and privately) indulge in ours. Dining is sophisticated with three main restaurants, café and bars includes the signature ﬁne dining V which is worth booking in advance due to its popularity with guests of both the Soﬁtel as well as Denarau’s other
“The Soﬁtel Turtles Kids Club has day and night activities to keep the kids entertained.” One of the largest resort properties in Fiji and set amidst 109 lush acres, every member of the family found their own space with a range of activities including kids club, pools, tennis court, mini-golf, golf course, restaurants, shopping arcade, games room, movie room and the decadent Chi Spa. The new Marine Centre, which welcomed
© Tourism Fiji
Denerau Island is home to some of the world’s most noted resorts. Sheraton, Raddison, Hilton, Wynham and Westin all make an appearance, but it was the chic blend of French ﬂair combined with traditional Fiji ambience that won us over at the Soﬁtel Resort and Spa. The kids loved the resident waterslide and we were able to keep an eye on them while we lounged by South Paciﬁc largest lagoon
neighbouring resorts. Most come via the Bula Bus, which rotates regularly around the island and onto Port Denarau – just $2.00 each for parents while kids ride free. (Parents only) breakfasts include complimentary champagne with the buffet at Lagoons and for a casual lunch or dinner, Salt Restaurant overlooks the beach and offers a fresh al a carte menu. The Soﬁtel Turtles Kids Club has day and night activities to keep the kids entertained, but I had a hard time plying my kids away from the waterslide where they were happy to spend countless hours whooping it up everyday. It’s amazing to think that the multiaward winning Fijian Shangri-La Resort on the stunning Coral Coast has welcomed families for nearly 40 years – but certainly not surprising. When it comes to families, this place also has it down pat.
Mum & Dad relaxing while kids are away
Kids club on the beach - Fiji style
© Tourism Fiji
that call the reef home. Austin, who is a very cool scientist that speaks “kid”, is spearheading a re-forestation program by growing corals from tiny cuttings in a lagoon nursery which are replanted to strengthen the overall habitat. The kids loved building ﬁsh houses from messy concrete and stones and were as proud as punch when a few days later they snorkelled out to drop them on the reef so ﬁsh have somewhere to live while affected areas of the reef replenish. This is “important” work, but alongside all the other activates that Shangri-La offer provides a fun, interactive environment for kids to learn and with tiny hands, assist Fiji remain as one of the Worlds favourite family holiday destinations for their kids too one day!
Kids having fun at the beach
© Tourism Fiji
us as one of its ﬁrst guests, was chosen as a model site for a coral reef development program by the United National Environmental Programme and has been built in collaboration with the local Fiji community along with Shangri-La’s resident scientist, Austin Bowden-Kerby and the ShangriLa’s eco conscience owners to inspire reef research leading to future sustainability. Which sounds awfully grand but the great thing is these wonderful people have recognised kids are the custodians of the future and the amazing marine program is directed to this grass roots level. My kids we enthralled by the visually rich and stimulating marine centre, interested in how they could personally help the reef and relished getting hands on with sea creatures
Semesa from Mana Island Resort keeping the children entertained
New Faces Fiji, a familiar friend shows off her newest faces By Martin Tiffany here’s an old song that goes “what a difference a day makes”. I only needed a few hours out of a day to enjoy a difference of rather large proportions. The day in question started off early on a frosty Hamilton morning with me running in and out of the house with jugs of warm water to defrost my car windows so I could drop my son off at rugby. It ended with yours
Island which is a 20-minute drive from Nadi International Airport and connected to the mainland by a small causeway. The upscale beachfront resort offers 270 beautiful rooms and suites plus numerous facilities. These are nestled around sandrimmed lagoon swimming pools at the heart of the resort. A feature is the secluded adultonly pool areas where you can enjoy some
truly enjoying some delicious prime Fiji beef at the Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island on Nadi’s Denarau Island as a tropical downpour splashed outside, cooling the air and sending the cane toads into a frenzy. My attire had also changed dramatically. Gone were the large jacket, beanie and boots of the early morning, replaced by shorts, a light cotton shirt and sandals. I was in Fiji to check out some of the new tourism developments, once again marveling at the huge difference in lifestyle the short trip from New Zealand makes. First stop was the Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island, one of the new players on in the ﬁrst class resort heavy enclave of Denarau
quiet time or indulge in a romantic candle-lit meal. A recent addition to the resort is one of New Zealand’s leading culinary exports, the internationally recognised Richard Cross who is now the resort’s Chef Maestro. Just a few minutes walk from the Radisson is the Sheraton Fiji Resort which has undergone a huge transformation in recent times. The upgraded lobby area gives the place a fresh feel and the theme continues into the pool and dining area out in front and towards the beach. The rooms too have had a dramatic refurbishment with classy new ﬁxtures and ﬁtting and all rooms have a light, airy feel.
Next door are the sister resorts Sheraton Denarau Villas and the Westin Resort & Spa and attractions also include the nearby Denarau Golf & Racquet Club. The new Port Denarau retail and commercial centre which links into the Port Denarau Marina is impressive with a ‘Gold Coast meets Fiji’ feel about it. Regular entertainment is held around the beautiful
Entrance to the newly refurbished Sheraton Fiji
© Westin Denerau Island Resort & Spa
The stunning pool complex at the Westin
amphitheatre, and bars, eateries and shops – including a Hard Rock Café - line both sides. This is a great addition to Denarau, offering all guests on the island an alternative place to chill out or do some shopping. As importantly the marina is a major departure point for cruises and transfers to the Mamanucas and Yasawa Islands. Just an hour or so’s drive from Denarau, the stunning Coral Coast is the location for one of the resort’s that is really helping
to underline Fiji’s ability to deliver on the ‘affordable luxury’ front - Taunovo Bay Resort and Spa. Located on the southern side of the main island, the opening of this amazing resort has provided the impetus to re-open the Paciﬁc Harbour airstrip which is just across the road from the resort thereby opening up this wonderful region of Fiji to even more visitors. This boutique ﬁve star villa resort has set a benchmark for luxury and privacy with the theme incorporating both Fijian and Balinese
architecture on three kilometres of stunning white beaches overlooking Beqa Lagoon. It’s beyond picture postcard perfect. Rooms are set around a private villa and features include a private pool and outdoor hot tub right on the beach. It’s a great place to get away from it all and relax in solitude. With well known local chef Neil Foon recently appointed, the ever changing menu is a delight. Taunovo Bay is located in the area of Fiji aptly dubbed ‘The Adventure Capital of Fiji’ and plans are well underway to rebrand this southern strip of Viti Levu in order to incorporate the many attractions of this adventure playground. The Pearl South Paciﬁc Fiji Resort, a short drive away, sits on one of the country’s longest beaches. As an established player in the Fiji market the recent upgrades and
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additions are tremendous, giving the place a fresh, vibrant feel. These include a pool bar, a beach bar and revamped dining and bar areas. A highlight is the six individually themed Penthouse Suites. The Penthouse collection are elegantly appointed, with imported furnishings and feature the Indian, Oriental, French Provincial, Moody Blues, Red Passion and Sand & Surf rooms. These are deﬁnitely worth a look. It is also great to see the nearby Robert Trent Jones Junior designed 18-hole championship golf course, one of Fiji’s most
adventurous courses, back to its former glory now that The Pearl is responsible for management. Trying to forget the fact that I am afraid of heights, I bravely head to Wainadoi, a short drive from Paciﬁc Harbour to sample the amazing ZipFiji, the only canopy zip line adventure operator in Fiji. Although popular in
A must-do for visitors is the Sigatoka River Safari which offers a half-day adventure up
© Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa
a number of countries, this is a new concept for Fiji and basically it is a series of thrilling rides riding in a harness along cables high up in the canopy of native rain forest. After I get the ﬁrst couple of rides under my belt, the fear melts away and I am soon launching myself off the platforms with a huge smile on my face. After the ﬁrst round of the eight runs on the canopy tour, I couldn’t wait to do it all again
The ﬁrst platform is at seven metres while the highest is at 45 and the zip line runs up to 200 metres long with rides reaching speeds of up to 60km/h. Best of all its completely safe and just about anyone can do it – from very young children right through to seniors. Plans are in place a similar operation in Nadi and also an abseiling course in Paciﬁc Harbour is also on the cards for this very ecofriendly company. Also in Paciﬁc Harbour is the fun and funky Uprising Beach Resort which is resort style backpacking (or ‘ﬂash packers’) at its ﬁnest. From private family bures to a tree house dormitory to a camping site, it offers something for all budgets. With a just-opened beach bar it is a great place to party Try out one of the numerous activities or simply kick back and relax. It is easy to see why this recent addition to the market has quickly made its mark as once you check in you’ll never want to leave
Entrance to the reception at Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
© Kesa Marau
a few of the new-kids-on-the-block and some of established players who continue to upgrade and add more the ever-changing landscape of Fiji tourism and the wonderful and very unique people who inhabit this paradise on earth. Fiji is no longer just a sun and sand destination, it offers so much more. So, if you are reading this in the depths of a Kiwi winter, remember a short plane ride can make a world of difference. What are you waiting for? No, seriously get up and go. Now!
A day out on Sigatoke River Safari
© Tourism Fiji
the Sigatoka River into the heart of the “real” Fiji, aboard a custom-built safari jet boat. You visit an authentic Fijian village and experience a day in the life of the real ‘kaiviti’ (Fijian), sharing a meal and a dance with your hosts. Oh, and a few ‘bilos’ of yaqona (kava) are a must. Your driver and guide bring the journey to life, explaining the rich culture of the people and sharing the history, customs and legends of the area. Don’t forget to ask him to do a few 360 degree spins – now that will deﬁnitely wake you up and get your adrenalin pumping. The wow factor is immediate as you see the new InterContinental Fiji Golf and Resort Spa rising up in its splendor on the edge of one of the world’s best beaches – the breathtaking Natadola Bay. The resort enjoyed a soft opening in May with the grand opening planned for later this year once the ﬁnal stages are complete. Featuring 271 superbly appointed rooms, contemporary suites and luxurious villas, a number of dining options, superb conference facilities and a picturesque Vijay Singh designed 18-hole golf course, the InterContinental is a wonder to behold. These are just some of the highlights of
Alipate enjoying Zip Fiji
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Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island is Fiji’s newest 5 star luxury beachfront resort. Offering a myriad of resort facilities nestled around lagoon swimming pools & lush tropical gardens combined with warm genuine Fijian hospitality. Featuring 270 luxuriously appointed & spacious guest rooms & suites, the largest in Fiji combined with a contemporary & unique Fijian blend. Choose either a Guest Room or 1 & 2 Bedroom Suites with views of the gardens, lagoon or ocean.
Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island Telephone + (679) 675 6677 Facsimile + (679) 675 1117 reservations@radissonﬁji.com www.radisson.com/ﬁji Tollfree 0800 44 33 33
© Tourism Fiji
Islands Of Romance
By Peter Malcouronne
Taking in the magniﬁcent Fiji sunset
t doesn’t get better than this. Really. I’m sitting at a table by the water’s edge, nibbling on roasted coconut, sipping some sort of divine tropical concoction, and watching the sun slink off for the day, the sky changing from brilliant gold to burnt orange and then to dark rust. “Beautiful,” murmurs Rajesh Lal, 36, manager of the 12-room Lomani Island Resort. And then he lights a torch and tells me about a wondrous wedding. “It took place on a sand bar, about a kilometre off this beach,” he says, gesturing out to sea. “It’s about 80 metres long by 20 metres wide... white sand.” Rajesh lowers his voice to a whisper. “Very romantic. From the shore, it looked like they were standing in the middle of the ocean.” The sand bar’s exposed only at low tide and so Rajesh and his crew had had to move fast. They made an aisle with bamboo stakes lashed together with wild vines – and then whisked the guests and groom (a strapping Canadian ﬁreﬁghter) over by boat. “When he
was ready, they beat the lali (Fijian drum) to let the bride know,” Rajesh continues. “She was waiting here on her own boat.” What happened next is really from the realm of dreams. Resort worker Paul Bukavece picks up the story: “I blew the conch shell to say that we – the bridal party – were coming,” he tells me. “I was standing up at the prow. And that’s when I saw the dolphins. Four of them. I had never seen them before – not this far in. It
“Today’s going to be a very lucky day” was amazing – none of us could believe it. The warriors were supposed to be holding up their clubs and looking ﬁerce, but instead they were leaning off the side of the boat watching the dolphins. Two on each side. “And then bride laughed and said, ‘Today’s going to be a very lucky day’.” ** I had ﬂown into Nadi town four days earlier on a mission to visit some of Fiji’s most
romantic places. I’d started at the ﬁve-star Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa, one of seven resorts on Denarau Island, a 600-acre fantasy land, 20 minutes drive from Nadi. While I wasn’t sure a 219-room palace would be my thing, I’d conked out by the pool (of which there are seven) within half an hour of lounging. Some hours later – they have sizeable sun umbrellas thankfully – I awoke and mooched my way down to the spa where I brieﬂy considered Cleopatra’s treatment of choice, the Aroma Milk Soak, before opting for the Aromatic Moor Mud Full-Body Wrap (and promptly fell asleep again). The next day I decamped to the Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island. The moment you stroll inside the Radisson you’re overcome with a child’s wonder. There’s a ‘Neverland’ aspect to The Rad – it boasts an immense faux waterfall that somehow sidesteps kitsch, and several lagoon-like swimming pools. It’s a magical place: I kept my eyes open for Tinkerbell or Master Pan until I got sleepy again and had to close them (listening instead
to the soft sounds of people, children especially, being happy). Alas, I was off the next morning, bound for the Yasawa Island Resort and Spa. Voted ‘Most Romantic Hideaway South Paciﬁc, Caribbean, Atlantic’ by Conde Nast magazine in 2006, the 18-bure resort is just a half-hour charter ﬂight from Nadi. But it feels like it’s on the edge of the Earth. While it was tempting to loaf about all day reading books, I’d been told I had to go to the Sawa-I-Lau Caves. If you’ve seen The Blue Lagoon, the 1980 marooned-on-an-idyllicisland ﬂick starring Brooke Shields, you’ll know why (and understand why this otherwise unremarkable ﬁlm was nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar). After I’d swum through the caves, I tried to lose my guides in the hope that, too, might be marooned. Be careful what you wish for: I’m dropped off at my own private beach on the way home. Here I get to indulge my inner Robinson Crusoe –and reﬂect on the notion of
© Tokoriki Island Resort
© Yasawa Island Resort & Spa
© Tourism Fiji
“It’s a honeymoon here every night for us,” Pat adds, eyes twinkling ‘Fiji time’: the idea that things happen in their own time. That you should just relax. Go with the ﬂow. People talk of Fiji time with a smile – it’s usually an explanation as to why things run late. But while it’s true that time somehow bends here, it does so in another way: I was often left with the sense that a great deal was happening and yet nothing really was going on. It’s a strange phenomenon, but an extremely relaxing one. That evening, over dinner, I discuss this further with Maurice and Karen Richter, a Melbourne couple on their 30th wedding anniversary. They understand – but Karen’s a little perturbed. “Don’t say too many nice things about Yasawa,” she says. “We don’t want people to ﬁnd out about it.” I’ve travelled back to the Mamanuca Island group, the cluster of islands just west of Nadi. To Tokoriki Island Resort. It is here, I’m told, that some of the best snorkelling in Fiji is to be had. A coral reef lies just 20 metres off the main beach and, within moments, I’m surrounded by numerous Nemos. I swim beside a trumpetﬁsh, play stare-out games with Fiji Blue Devil Damsels and then tag along with a 100-strong school of ﬁsh that changes colour with the light. They’re dark sea-green when they’re beneath me, turquoise when above. “They’re Blue Green Chromis,” Alex Garland tells me afterwards. “My favourite ﬁsh in the world. They deserve a better name than that.”
While we’re gazing out to sea, a spry old-stager paddles metronomically past. Harry Tait, 73, kayaks round the island in 40 minutes these days, slower than the 33 minutes he managed in his prime. But not bad. “The beauty of this place is that it’s a holiday,” Harry tells me later, over dinner with his wife Pat, 69. “There are no TVs, no radios, no telephone... they’ve even taken the clocks out of the rooms.” “We’ve been coming here since 1991,” he continues. “This is our 28th visit – I reckon we’ve spent close to a year on the island. It’s like our bach.” “It’s a honeymoon here every night for us,” Pat adds, eyes twinkling. They were here for their 40th wedding anniversary – and daughter Kiri’s wedding – in 2002. But the 45th wedding anniversary was something else. ** I did my best to miss the boat the next morning: I’d had a serious kava session after dinner with resort workers Mosese, Josua and Jerry and we’d stayed up singing Elvis songs and (I think) some Johnny Cash. They all sound the same by the small hours. My delaying tactics would ultimately fail and I was escorted by six dolphins (truly!) to a
boat bound for Matamanoa Island Resort. Imagine you could design, by CGI, the perfect tropical island paradise – Matamanoa would be your template. Little wonder, then, that another couple of Kiwis, Allen and Chris Petersen, can’t stay away. They’ve been here 22 times over the past decade. They’re usually in Bure 14 which looks out over Sunset Beach but this time they’ve opted for the other side. “Sunrise Beach,” Allen says with a grin. “It was time for a change.” “Matamanoa’s magical,” Chris tells me. “It’s very romantic. We’ve certainly seen our share of weddings here. And sunsets, of course.”
She suggests I head to a lookout down the far end of the island which overlooks Monuriki, home to Tom Hanks in Castaway. But en route way I discover a very special little beach. Tucked away, in “Lover’s Cove”, are hundreds of messages written on driftwood, stones and coconut shells. “James and Olga” from Northern Ireland on their “South Paciﬁc Holiday of a Lifetime”; “Massimiliano and Simona” from Italia; “Blair ‘n’ Eloise from NZ” who got engaged here on December 30 2008. And Adam and Lydia Miller from Australia who honeymooned on Matamanoa and who’ve simply said: “We love this place.”
© Captain Cook Cruises
MV Ra Marama
Wriiten by Sarah Lang
CRUISE FIJI knew winter was really going to bite this year when I took to wearing thermal underwear, socks and a hat – and that’s just in bed. So it was with a suitcase of summer frocks, a bout of cabin fever, and a camera-happy boyfriend that I set off for Fiji, the balmy islands where one layer of clothing is enough year-round. As soon as Michael and I stepped off the plane at Nadi International Airport on the main island of Viti Levu - a mere three-hour trip from Auckland - the tropical air wrapped us in a warm embrace.
Waiting outside, our Coral Sun Fiji driver was an ideal introduction to the famed Fijian friendliness with amusing anecdotes about his wife and country. As he talked, we peered out at 42,000-strong town Nadi, sheltered by the Sleeping Giant Mountain and peppered with ramshackle huts, endless lines of washing and roadside BBQs. Just west of Nadi, we were dropped off in a different world at Denarau, a 684-acre manmade island reclaimed from a mangrove swamp. Connected to the mainland by a narrow
causeway, this adult playground sports resorts, hotels, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis centre, beach areas and watersports as well as residential precincts and holiday homes. We checked in at Golf Terraces, a stone’s throw from Port Denarau’s open-air-mall-style shopping village, lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. Here we indulged in the delicious tastingmenu dinner at smart, Ponsonby-esque Indigo Restaurant. I highly recommend the ﬁsh curry. While the food’s great, Port Denarau’s main raison d’etre is as launch pad for cruises to the adjacent Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. After all with most of the nation’s 322 islands accessible only by boat, you don’t get a real sense of Fiji until you’ve been out on the water. What better way to do this than selecting from the smorgasbord of Fiji’s most-
Of course, we couldn’t come to Fiji without taking a Blue Lagoon Cruise. Approaching its 60th birthday, Blue Lagoon is still the epitome of the Fiji land-and-sea experience. With a ﬂeet of three boutique ships, Blue Lagoon offers six unique itineraries for cruising the unspoilt Yasawas, a 90-km string of volcanic islands north of Viti Levu. Our Gold Club four-day/three-night program was the briefer version of the top-of-the-scale seven-
day/six-night Gold Club cruise. For those on a tighter budget, there’s the three-day/two-night or four-day/three-night Club cruises; other options are a seven-day/ six-night historical cultural cruise, and a weeklong scuba-diving voyage.
joined fruit and toast while at lunch and dinner-time hot dishes, salads, meat, ﬁsh, vegetarian cuisine and desserts tempted us to indulgence. And that’s not to mention the fresh fruit and pastries at morning and afternoon tea. We cruised for about four hours a day, a couple in the early morning and a couple in the late afternoon. Each evening, after dinner in the dining saloon and singalong drinks in the lounge, we retired to our very comfortable and well appointed cabin. With each night spent anchored in a sheltered lagoon, the slight rocking of the waves didn’t disturb dreams. Each morning, our view out the porthole window looked like it’d been plucked straight from a postcard - especially at Blue Lagoon’s private island paradise, Nanuya Lai Lai. Palm-tree-fringed stretches of golden sand and turquoise water beckoned ashore, where we could take part in activities like snorkelling,
experienced cruise operator South Seas Cruises? Offering a dozen Mamanuca Islands cruises (either half-day or full-day), South
Bussed down to the port in the “Sugar City” of Lautoka, we were all welcomed onto ﬂeet ﬂagship the MV Fiji Princess with yells of
bushwalks and volleyball, or simply relax back in sunloungers and hammocks on coconutpeppered beaches.
Day cruise with South Sea Cruises
Blue Lagoon Cruises crew serenaders
Seas has a cruise for every taste, budget and time allowance, including the popular Seaspray Day Sailing Adventure aboard classic schooner Seaspray of TV fame. We decided on half-day trip the Beachcomber Island Cruise. A mere 45minute cruise from Port Denarau, this marinesanctuary island is known as the party island come dusk. But in the heat of the day there were as many middle-aged couples, retirees and honeymooners sunbathing as there were English, European, North American, Australian and New Zealand students. After a delicious buffet lunch from a “lovo” (underground earth oven) we spent the afternoon lazing on the golden-sand beach, watching the waves breaking on the reef, and swimming in the crystal-clear warm waters.
“Bula!” (hello) and afternoon tea in the lounge. As the ship set sail, shafts of sunlight splintered the clouds and illuminated myriad tiny islands, many barely dots on the horizon. The sun set in a bath of amber light as complimentary champagne was served while the crew played guitars and ukeleles, teasing passengers into joining traditional-Fijian songs and dances. Announcing dinner, our ever-jovial cruise director Joseph Tui (JT) – who could go into stand up comedy if he ever gets sick of sailing - informed us that this wasn’t The Love Boat. “This is The Food Boat. The more you eat, the better you ﬂoat!” Certainly you’d be hard pressed to go hungry on this buffet boat. In the mornings, pikelettes, omelettes and cooked breakfasts
“We spent the afternoon lazing on the goldensand beach.”
In and out of the warm water like a jack-inthe-box, I spent hours laying on the golden sand, often putting down my book to soak up the view. A trip highlight was the ﬁsh feeding. With JT throwing bread from a kayak, we watched either through our snorkel face-masks or in my case on a SpyBoard (a plastic kickboard with a viewing window) as black-and-white surgeonﬁsh and orange clownﬁsh zipped hungrily around their colourful coral home, ticklishly slapping my legs. While we lapped up the beaches, we were also eager to experience Fijian culture. Fortunately, JT was leading an excursion to remote village Kese on his home island Naviti, where he used to spy Blue Lagoon vessels while walking the beach to school. In the local
church. JT briefed us on life in this 160-person village, a sprawl of rudimentary buildings nestled in a lee of the hills. Here the villagers, like generations before them, live simple lives very different to more-modernised mainland villages. In a community hall, we sat cross-legged on the ﬂoor as the ‘Yaqona’ welcome ceremony began with the offering of an ancient beverage – ‘kava’. In grass shirts and skirts, local men played guitar, ukulele and drums while singing traditional songs. Then with wreaths around their waists and ﬂowers behind their ears, resplendently-dressed women performed hipswaying dances and songs. Placing ﬂower garlands around our necks, the smiling women pulled us all up to dance. Embarrassed smiles soon turned into whoops
“Our view out the porthole window looked like it’d been plucked straight from a postcard” of laughter as we morphed into a conga line snaking our way round the room.
Outside under a gargantuan tree - which has shaded the village for at least six generations - the women spread their market wares to form a giant circle. It was too hard to choose between the array of bowls, tapa cloths, sarongs, masks, shells, bookmarks and fans, but it was the all-colours-of-therainbow, intricate shell jewellery that I found irresistible. Waiting for our boat on the palm-treefringed beach, a few of us played balloons with four unselfconscious kids of about eight
who shrieked with laugher on seeing our digital snaps of them. It seemed an idyllic childhood, amid beautiful environs. Come our last evening, it was time for the beach party under the stars. Survivor-style coconut-husk torches marked a path along the beach to a gazebostyle room. After a singalong - by this time we knew all the words - the crew unearthed what we Kiwis would call a hangi, but what Fijians call a magiti (traditional feast) cooked in an earth oven called a ‘lovo’.
the magic of Fiji, you can only discover by sea
Imagine waking every morning to a beautiful new paradise. Savour days of turquoise seas, pure white beaches, palm-fringed islands and the intimate tranquillity of boutique small ship cruising. While your crew are indulging your every wish, cruise to unspoilt islands, visit remote Fijian villages and swim and snorkel in some of the most pristine waters in the world . . . or simply do nothing at all.
P: (679) 666 1622 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.bluelagooncruises.com
and pool. As we ﬂew out of Nadi early the next morning, I jotted down a note: that Fiji’s
Zealand customs ofﬁcer with a hearty Bula instead of a hello. Outside, a Subantarctic icy blast and the thought of my thermals already had me hankering to be back in tropical paradise.
“It was time for the beach party under the stars” relaxed friendliness is no stereotype. Indeed, it’s catching: I startled myself and the New
Captain Cook Cruises crew on the MV Ra Marama
© Blue Lagoon Cruises
© Captain Cook Cruises
Wrapped in banana leaves, pork, lamb, chicken, potato, kumara, cassava and taro were dug up from the ground` earth joining salads, vegetarian dishes, and apple pie in the best Blue Lagoon meal yet. Next day, we waved goodbye to our shipmates and caught a boat transfer to Denarau, then onto Nadi. On our ﬁnal evening we stayed at the close-to-the-airport Mercure Hotel, where our luxurious apartment opened onto a deck which overlooked an inviting spa
Wedding on the beach
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New Zealand based underwater photographer Colin Gans enjoys sharing his passion for the marine environment through his underwater images of pristine and interesting dive locations.
eqa Lagoon offers an exciting big ﬁsh dive that will thrill and likely forever change the way you think of sharks. Taveuni offers colourful soft corals, adrenaline rushing current, deep wall drop offs, shallow drift dives and something for everyone. Kadavu gives a taste of undeveloped, pristine Fiji, an eco-diving adventure experience and the possibility to dive with large and graceful manta rays year round. Underwater photographer Colin Gans takes the plunge into a sensory awakening.
Beqa, the big ﬁsh dive. The underwater sound is surprising as my senses adjust to the energy of the predatory activity. A Napoleon wrasse circles in the water column above while shy lemon and silvertip sharks hover on the edge of a noisy feeding mass. A cacophony of cracks and reef chatter; a pecking order of predators,
© Matava Resort
© Colin Gans
© Colin Gans
Dive, Dive, Dive. thronging sergeant majors, rainbow runners, giant trevally and tawny nurse sharks. Black tip and white tip reef sharks, more timid, keep well away from the hub of action, wary of becoming a meal for the bigger feeders. Suddenly all goes quiet, the feeding pauses and the bull and nurse sharks disappear. Out of the blue with surprising grace and speed looms a very large shape. Her eyes piercing at close range, stopping to assess me. Sharks use their electro receptors and can sense muscles ﬂexing; or my heartbeat. I know this and can feel my heart beating very loudly. Scarback, a regular who turns up every couple of weeks, is the picture of awe inspiring streamlined grace and beauty. Her
“Suddenly all goes quiet” distinct tiger stripes on her sides distinguish her from other species but it is not just the stripes which identify her as a tiger: there is no other shark here today so large. Shark dives at Beqa Lagoon, off Paciﬁc Harbour on the ‘big island’ of Viti Levu are an adrenaline rush but they also serve to highlight the plight of shark populations in worldwide decline. Many species of sharks are dying at a rate faster than they can reproduce and the loss of apex predators threatens the health of our oceans. There are two dive operators running big ﬁsh dives at Beqa Lagoon: Aquatrek Fiji and Beqa Adventure Divers. In addition to the big ﬁsh dives, other sites at Beqa offer a good variety of marine life. Various accommodation options exist around Paciﬁc Harbour with easy access to the
dive operators. The self catering Fiji Palms timeshare rentals offer handy access to the jetty and the units are within walking distance of nearby shops and restaurants while The Pearl Resort offers a more upmarket alternative.
Taveuni: soft coral, pelagics and critters. The sweet smell of rainforest and fertile soil interspersed with villages marks the road journey down the coast of the garden island, to Paradise, the resort at which I’m staying on the leeward south-west coast. Mountains
and hills shield the west coast providing more protection from the prevailing southeast trade winds and rain. What brings me to Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island, is the renowned soft coral: the colourful Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Strait with its signature dive, the Great White Wall, famous worldwide amongst divers, and the lesser known but pristine Vuna reef off southwest Taveuni. My third visit to this underwater wonderland does not disappoint except that this time I am also thoroughly spoilt above water by the warm hospitality, service and facilities at Paradise Resort. On arrival a complimentary foot rub kicks off the pace and it simply gets better from here. Meals are prepared by a top class chef and each evening is a culinary delight. The resort landing where the dive boat collects
“On arrival a complimentary foot rub kicks off the pace and it simply gets better from here” me every morning after breakfast is easily accessible and the Pro Dive shop has all necessary facilities; compressor room and equipment. A dive on Rainbow Reef can be an adrenaline packed experience with current, soft corals plus an abundance of thriving organisms. The tidal current of the Somosomo Strait ﬂows through a narrowing
channel between the islands of Taveuni and Vanua Levu bringing large amounts of nutrients from the depths of the Tongan trench to sustain the ﬁlter feeding soft corals. This is advanced diving and can require speedy descents to avoid being carried off the planned dive site. Fortunately good brieﬁngs and contingencies are covered before each dive. The Great White Wall is best experienced at the right lunar phase and our dive operator makes the call advising of which day during my stay will be best to do this particular dive. The unusual lavender tinged white soft coral is best seen feeding with polyps open; the blossoming organisms growing on an escarpment from about 15 metres to 65 metres in depth. On the lesser known Vuna reef, which lies on the south-western tip of Taveuni, pristine corals and big ﬁsh encounters are common. A drift dive offers encounters with Napoleon wrasse, rays, tuna, Spanish mackerel and turtles ending with an opportunity to see white tip reef sharks congregating under rocky coral shelves. Paradise resort has an entertaining house reef which is sheltered and convenient in the afternoons after returning from the morning’s two tank boat dive. Night dives can be done off the resort as well; and from the bank by the house reef access to which simply involves stepping off the resort boat landing. We encounter many interesting critters close to shore with Charlie, my guide performing his party trick of enticing shrimp from a small cave into his open mouth to clean his teeth.
Taveuni offers easy access to world class diving and a range of dive sites to satisfy all levels of divers from beginner to advanced. No surprise that people keep returning to this garden island paradise.
Kadavu: intrepid eco-adventure diving with mantas. The salty feel of spray on my face triggers the anticipation of adventure as our small Fijian longboat heads out of the natural harbour and up the coast towards the ﬁrst headland. My bags are ﬁrmly tucked under a tarpaulin and I’m looking forward to seeing unspoilt, undeveloped Fiji and diving the pristine Great Astrolabe Reef. About seven
“The ﬁrst dive shows pristine reef” grown fruit, veggies and other local ingredients: being somewhat remote with access by boat only helps to encourage sustainable self sufﬁciency. Running a hair dryer here would consume enough solar powered battery energy to run the resort’s lighting for a week. Early the following morning I’m off to dive a site on the Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest barrier reef in the world and the largest
in Fiji. Deep surrounding water here provides plankton; manta food and there is a good chance of seeing mantas here year round. The ﬁrst dive shows pristine reef; plateaus covered with hard corals, sponges and anemones teeming with various species of anemone ﬁsh. There is plankton evident in the water column but the mantas evade us. Joe our guide is keen to prove the point that this is Fiji’s only year round manta dive site and during our surface interval the entertaining banter revolves around pelagic ﬁsh encounters and the large rays. Shortly into our second dive two mantas suddenly appear hovering and feeding over the reef. The larger is almost completely black; the smaller quite white. I’m elated to be seeing these majestic gentle giants of the reef aware that many divers will be envious of this opportunity. They perform a number of circuits feeding on the plankton before ﬁnally
fading out into the blue. Kadavu appeals to intrepid eco-adventure divers and people who make the effort to get here are rewarded by unspoilt pristine reef and the opportunity for a more grass roots dive travel experience. On my return to Nadi the weather closes to the extent that our ﬂight is cancelled. The small Biana hostel within walking distance of the airstrip is suggested by the airport staff as sea conditions are now too rough to return to the resort. I settle in for the night at this local Fijian house, to a deliciously spiced wholeﬁsh dinner and the next day the twin otter arrives on time for Nadi. Whether you prefer Beqa’s apex predators, Taveuni’s soft corals and currents or Kadavu’s adventure diving and mantas, these world class dive locations in Fiji have something special to offer every diver.
© Matava Resort
© Cat Holloway
headlands later in a choppy sea we arrive at the resort. Everything here is low-key - except that the food is delicious, the diving outstanding and the camaraderie which develops amongst fellow travellers in remote locations is welcomingly refreshing. I’m shown to my bure which has a traditional ﬁnish, is well designed, very comfortable and has an inviting solar heated shower. Matava resort was awarded the PADI Project AWARE Environmental Achievement Award 2008 for its policies on environmental sustainability and owners Jeannie and Richard pride themselves on minimising environmental impact. Meals are made from organic home
Fiji magazine insert for New Zealand's Sunday Star Times dated 05 July 2009