Romantic Fiji: Island Fever Never had it So Good
By Lin Low
Edited by Ellen Wahlberg
A few years ago my husband asked me where I would like to go to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. My answer came as no surprise as I smiled at him and said, “The FIJI ISLANDS!” Why Fiji? We have been there six times, so why would we still long to go back? The answer is easy. Fiji is only ten hours away from Los Angeles (via a non-stop Air Pacific flight), so with two movies, two in-flight meals and a short nap, I’m in paradise.
Fiji is made up of over 300 islands, with the two largest islands being Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The Fijian islands offer everything you would expect in a tropical paradise. You can easily wander through local marketplaces, take leisurely nature walks through undisturbed lush vegetation, or even try one of the many adrenaline-filled adventure activities. You can dive, snorkel, or swim in the legendary crystal clear waters or simply do nothing at all, and just relax on glorious sun-drenched, white, sandy beaches. Unlike many typical island destinations, Fiji offers numerous private islands.
Some of these private islands cater to couples craving privacy and romance, while others cater to families seeking a high adventure activity holiday. The Fijians (more accurately, the Melanesian people) are often described as the friendliest people in the South Pacific or even the world. And, best of all, with the current exchange rate, the U.S. dollar can go a lot further in Fiji than in other typical island destinations.
Since I had already visited most of the popular resorts in Fiji on previous trips and since this was our twentieth wedding anniversary, we decided to stay at more unique, romantic and secluded private resorts, including: Hideaway Resort, Vomo Island Resort, and Koro Sun Resort & Rainforest Spa. There was one exception: we decided to revisit one of our favorite properties, Namale Resort and Spa. In short, after a warm “bula” greeting when we stepped off our plane, we journeyed from Nadi International Airport on Viti Levu Island, to Hideaway Resort on the Coral Coast, to Koro Sun Resort & Namali Resort in Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu, to Vomo Island then finally back to Nadi.
This imperial gem has been voted the best resort in the South Pacific for several years. Though it is only a one hour drive by car from the airport in Nadi, you feel as if you are in the middle of paradise.
Hideaway Resort is located on the spectacular Coral Coast. This paradise resort, once a coconut plantation, is home to 120 bures (Fijian for bungalows) which are dotted throughout 15 acres of manicured tropical gardens that extend along the water’s edge. This resort offers four different types of bures: Honeymoon Villas, Deluxe Ocean View bures, Frangipani bures, and 2 bedroom bures. All rooms are air-conditioned and all guests receive a complimentary fruit basket.
We stayed at the Beach Front Honeymoon Villa. This large room (approximately 855 square feet) has a king size bed and a large indoor bathroom. In addition there is an outdoor shower and bathtub! How did we hide-away in this resort? Well, we woke up to the sound of sea breezes, and then had a cup of Fijian coffee while seated on our private veranda watching the surfers glide through the ocean water. Next was lunch at the poolside “Cannibal Café” enjoying views of the lagoon.
Then in the early afternoon with the high tide we went snorkeling in this same lagoon. The beach however, was not so beautiful at low tide, but we took advantage of the low tide by walking along the reef to mingle with local fishermen. We enjoyed watching the fishermen fish with handmade lines, and searching for blue starfish and octopi. During high tides we swam to off-shore rocks to look at the fish. One note of caution however, you must keep track of the tides and the time when swimming off-shore. Once we got caught as the tides were getting lower. I ended up getting scratched by the razor sharp coral, and had to have my deep cuts treated by the caring hotel staff.
The resort offers great entertainment and floor shows in the evenings. One night we were entertained by cultural dances, and the next night by a Fijian history presentation. A cooking class was offered during the day. The day I attended they just happened to make my favorite Fijian dish, Kokonda, which is similar to cerviche, made of raw fish in a coconut cream sauce.
The Hideaway Resort is considered a moderate to budget property, but it has four-star amenities. The staff was exceedingly friendly and many of the guests were repeat guests from all over the world. The Hideaway Resort is a great family resort, sort of like a Fijian Club Med. My husband wished that there was a television in our room so he could catch the news, but he enjoyed the privacy and uniqueness of the outside shower! We both wished that there was Internet access in the rooms so we would not need to lug our computer to the hot-spot in the dining room to Instant Message our children (internet facilities are available for $6 for 60 minutes), but I guess with a name like Hideaway, who wants television or the Internet?
KORO SUN RESORT AND RAINFOREST SPA
This resort is located on the island of Vanua Levu, a short one hour flight from Nadi airport in Viti Levu, and is dedicated to adventure, rejuvenation and romance! It is a dream haven for lovers and nature lovers! It is situated on 150 acres, 90 acres of which is lush, virgin, tropical rainforest, complete with waterfalls and streams. It is also home to many rare tropical birds and plants. The Koro Sun Resort and Rainforest Spa features 17 bures each with 4-poster bamboo beds, a stone shower, and ocean views. It is an all- inclusive property!
Here our morning started with breakfast at the resort’s restaurant. The awesome homemade muffins were almost as good as Millie’s beautiful cheerful smile that greeted us each day. My favorite place though was the Rainforest Spa, which is tucked next to cascading waterfalls. Most massage centers use music to create a relaxing environment, but here we heard the natural sounds of the real rainforest, with the sounds of the stream and the birds chirping. This made our massage a truly delightful, relaxing and memorable experience. My husband however, recommends requesting a lift in the resort car, as it is a very long walk through the rainforest to get back to the hotel.
About five minutes by taxi from the resort, on the way to the town of Savusavu, you must remember to stop to view the spectacular blowhole. Here the sea water shoots vertically nearly twenty feet from a natural rock formation, much like a gigantic ocean geyser. In Savusavu we visited J. Hunter Pearls Shop, the only place in Fiji that boasts an international pearl farm. From there we walked to the farmer’s market and bought a common Asian vegetable, the bok choy.
Once back at the resort, Chef Anna surprised us with a fabulous bok choy salad featuring her signature special dressing. It was very creative and totally delicious. I never knew you could make such an amazing dish with this common vegetable. Needless to say, the staff at Koro Sun Resort and Rainforest Spa was incredibly friendly and outgoing.
NAMALE RESORT & SPA
Envisioned and created by Tony Robbins a well known author and speaker, this all-inclusive resort has won the 2005 Fiji Excellence in Tourism Award for Best Deluxe Accommodations; and first prize from Modern Bride in 2005 for best Ultimate Honeymoon Suite. This property is situated on 325 acres yet has only 16 private and spacious bures and villas (though currently two additional villas are being constructed on the property).
We did not stay at this property, as we had the luxury of staying there in 1999. But as it was only 10 minutes away from Koro Sun Resort, we decided to do a quick resort inspection to see how it may have changed in those 8 years. Rose, the sales and marketing manager was very friendly and sweet. She showed us around and shared her enthusiasm about the resort. We were fascinated by the 10,000 square foot glass-walled Namale Spa overlooking the sea. It offers several types of massages from all over the world (U.S. $125 for 75 minutes). The spa is designed to induce a deep calm, a place for renewal and relaxation.
How I would have loved to have a massage there, but alas, we didn’t have enough time! The resort’s entertainment center, Kava Center , has a two-lane bowling alley, a video golf range, a theater-size projection facility, and the internet is conveniently located in the business conference center. Needless to say, the Kava Center is very popular when Tony Robbins is hosting a conference
Something unique about Namale Resort & Spa is that each day there is a personalized typed lunch or dinner menu complete with personal greeting. Would you prefer to eat in your room or have a picnic basket of lobster for lunch at the beach? How about dinner complete with candlelight, and quiet romantic music on a private corner of a rock near the gentle gliding sounds of the sea?
VOMO RESORT AND SPA
The old saying “getting there is half the fun” truly applies to Vomo Resort & Spa. This island resort is reached either by sea plane, helicopter (15 minute ride) or South Sea Cruises (45 minutes from Denarau Marina)! What a way to start a vacation!
This property, located just below Fiji’s popular Yasawa group of Islands and includes 29 stunning bures, each with ocean front views and private decks. Our ocean front bure was very centralized with easy access to the restaurant, spa, golf course, resort store, and activities center. We particularly enjoyed sipping cocktails at Rock Bar, while gazing out at the beautiful sunsets, and attending the manager’s cocktail party. This cocktail party was before the “Lovo” dinner where they had native Fijians performing native dances. Like many of the guests, we dressed up, enjoyed our dinner, and mingled with the friendly natives and other resort guests until late into the night.
The crystal blue water here was unbelievable! I could easily see 15-30 feet down to the colorful fish and corals beneath me as I snorkeled immediately off the shoreline. I did not need to endure a long boat ride to find an underwater paradise! And, as an extra bonus, the resort has a sea turtle sanctuary, where we thoroughly enjoyed playing with the baby turtles!
Vomo Resort has a small island adjacent to it known as Vomo Lailai Island where guests can enjoy a private
picnic. Only one couple at a time is allowed on this small island, thus it truly is a secluded romantic getaway! We found, however, that this little island is not quite as secluded as we expected. Suddenly we saw five native fishermen on the other end of the beach! Thankfully they never saw us, and we had nothing to hide (yet!).
Our other favorite outing was a private candlelight dinner on the beach surrounded by lighted torches and candles. It just happened to be seafood night the night we went, so we had the luxury of privately eating yummy local lobster with our hands and fingers while enjoying a good bottle of wine. We would not have enjoyed the lobster nearly as much had we eaten it in a restaurant worrying about proper etiquette. (How does one politely eat lobster with a fork, knife and cracker?!?!?!).
Then on our walk back to our bure after our romantic dinner I thought I was dreaming or feeling the effects of the wine. As we opened the door to our bure, the lights had been dimmed, soft music was playing, and flower petals were scattered throughout our bure. Even more surprising, our bathroom had also been decorated with flower petals, lit candles surrounded our bubble filled Jacuzzi! Needless to say, we were stunned and speechless with this special touch of romance! What a memorable and enchanting evening. Soon this turndown romance will be added to the long list of amenities and a small fee will be added.
Incidentally, Vomo Resort and Spa is now under new management since May 2007. Wayne Milgate from the famous Hayman Island Resort, and Toni-Maree Milgate from Versage Hotel on the Coral Coast of Australia, are the new general managers and they plan to change this resort from a deluxe to a luxury resort. By the way they pay attention to their guests I am convinced they will quickly succeed!
Our final stay in Fiji was at the Bluewater Lodge. This privately owned and operated boutique bed and breakfast style lodge is centrally located along Nadi Bay. It is just five minutes from the airport and one block from Wailoaloa beach and upscale hotels and lodges. It is situated in an ideal location to explore Nadi, shop, browse the local farmer’s markets, use as a home-base for day trips, or just to rest before or after your international flight.
Family owned and operated by Fiona Fong and Mike Beauchamp, this home-like property caters to both tourists and business travelers. The lodge has three separate bedrooms that share a common bathroom, as well as one master bedroom with private bath. This full service lodge offers free internet access, and for small fees will provide laundry and airport shuttle services. And, last but not least, Fiona is an excellent cook who goes out of her way to spoil you with Fijian hospitality and make you want to make Bluewater Lodge your home-away-from-home.
Our anniversary vacation was a romantic experience in a place that only can be described as paradise. My husband and I walked hand-in-hand through pristine tropical rainforests, swam in crystal clear ocean waters, enjoyed lunch on a private secluded deserted (well, almost) island, enjoyed several private candlelit dinners, and we were even surprised one night by flower pedals strewn throughout our cozy bure complete with a candlelit bubble-bath waiting for us! Fiji’s unpretentious hospitality, outgoing culture, and romantic setting will keep us returning for years to come.
Hideaway Resort – from $250.00/ bure per night
Contact: Adam Wade
Phone: 679 6500177
Fax: 679 7520025
Koro Sun Resort – from $320/ bure per night
Contact: Merlyn Young
Phone: 1 877 KOROSUN
Fax: 1 970 626 3715
Namale Resort & Spa – from $850.00/bure per night
Phone: 1800 727 FIJI
Fax: 8585 535 6385
Vomo Island Resort – from $680.00/bure per night
Contact: Kelvin Wade
Mobile: 61 4 0212 1211
Fax: 61 7 5577 9289
Fiona Fong mobile: 679 9929704
Mike Beauchamp mobile: 679 9929712
Other Helpful Information:
Electricity : 220-240 volts, 50 Hz cycle. 3 pin flat plug is the standard. A converter adapter is recommended.
Language : English speaking country.
Weather : Winter season is May through October with an average temperature of 84 degrees and low of 66 degrees. Summer is November through April with an average high of 88 degrees and low of 72 degrees.
Population : Approximately 900,000, with a mixture of indigenous Fijians, Indians, Europeans and Chinese.
Entry Requirements : No Visa required with US passport.
Currency : Approximately U.S. $1.00 to Fijian $1.50 (July 2007)
Air Travel : The national air carrier is Air Pacific, but many other major airline service Fiji. Cost from Los Angeles is approximately U.S. $750.00 plus tax & airport fee (July 2007).
Driving : Left side of the road.
Tipping : Not encouraged in Fiji, but you may leave a tip for the staff fund at the end of a resort stay.
Lin Low is a travel agent based in Campbell. She can be reached at email@example.com . See her pictures at www.pbase.com/lin_travels/fiji2007
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