Deep-sea diving and desert islands, how the lesser-travelled North Fiji has some hidden gems
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Deep-sea diving and desert islands, how the lesser-travelled North Fiji offers some hidden gems
By Carol Driver
Follow me: http://twitter.com/caroldtravels
With 333 islands to choose from, all with golden sandy beaches, turquoise seas and brilliant sunshine, deciding where to stay in Fiji can be a difficult task.
It’s with this in mind, Carol Driver sets off to find out what Vanua Levu has to offer.
Best for ... honeymooners
Nukubati: A private island situated inside the Great Sea Reef, off the north coast of Vanua Levu
Getting there: 40-minute flight from Nadi to Labasa then a one-hour drive from the airport and a five-minute boat ride to the island (or hire a seaplane from Nadi airport for a one-hour flight direct to the island). With the stress of organising the big day behind you, it’s now time to relax, enjoy and indulge. But doing that is going to be difficult unless you shut yourself off from the world. Welcome to Nukubati.
This little-known, 108-acre private island is about as exclusive as you can get.
Guests step off the boat to a traditional musical Fijian welcome and are presented with salu-salus (flower necklaces) before being shown to their luxurious bures (traditional thatched cottages). Each one has its own sunlounger and small stretch of beach.
Once at Nukubati, your only option is to unwind – there are no phones in the rooms, so no chance of being disturbed by the real world. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken care of by the competent staff, who are extremely friendly and make you feel very welcome.
Dining is about the most demanding activity you have to do, should you wish. For those who want to, there’s also diving or snorkelling on the Great Sea Reef, exploring the island, massages, romantic picnics at the lookout peak (from where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the South Pacific Ocean). If even that sounds too taxing, just lie back and enjoy a glass or two of champagne at sunset.
Top tip: Book during the quieter winter months (June to August) and it’s quite likely you’ll have the whole island to yourself.
Best for .
Daku Resort, Savusavu. 50-minute flight from Nadi.
Swap your tan for something more permanent by learning something new while relaxing in paradise.
Daku Resort runs week-long courses throughout the year - and offers the perfect secluded location for guests to relax and absorb.
Choose from novel writing with Jan Cornall, singing with Clare Martin, Hatha yoga with Mark O’Brien or watercolours with Nell Frysteen - all in 2010 - to enjoy a holiday with a difference.
The resort, which boasts high-end budget accommodation in the style of traditional bures, is a five-minute drive from Savusavu’s lively but quaint town centre and airport.
Nestled in a tropical garden, Daku is minutes away from the ocean and guests can take advantage of this by hiring snorkelling equipment, kayaks or a boat.
Owned by former guest, JJ, the resort is managed by a Fijian family, who will serve a delicious array of freshly cooked meals in a communal area and who do a sterling job of making guests feel at home.
You’ll definitely leave hungry for more.
Top tip: One night, take the five-minute taxi journey to the five-star award-winning Jean-Michel Cousteau resort for an evening lovo - the traditional Fijian feast.
Best for ... adventure
Tui Tai adventure cruiser. Pick up from Natewa Bay, Savusavu, for five or seven-day excursion.
Steady your sea legs and prepare for a trip to remember.
There’s diving, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkelling, yoga, surfing, massages, beach volleyball, swimming, hiking, village visits … and that’s pretty much in the first three days.
The boat itself has undergone extensive refurbishment to take it to a “luxury” standard and now boasts air-conditioned cabins with ensuites. On the upper decks are plush sunbeds where you can laze around and soak up the rays - or where meals are served.
Be prepared to be dazzled by the quality of food - and by the friendliness of the staff. The Tui Tai anchors at a different location every night - taking in smaller islands such as Rabi, Taveuni, Qamea and Kioa.
My favourite dive was at Pete’s Coral Patch while the Tui Tai was anchored off Rabi Island. My buddy and dive guide Tim only went as deep as 12 metres, but the scenery was breathtaking, with an abundance of colourful soft coral and vibrant sea life.
The highlight, however, is when my two companions turned towards me, eyes wide, and pointed directly behind me.
The itinerary onboard the Tui Tai is as much or as little as you want to do. But with striking islands, activities on tap and being able to easily reach dive sites that other travellers would struggle to find, it really is worthwhile to sign up for everything - you’ll return home confident that you’ve had a unique adventure of a lifetime.
Top tip: Make sure you book all-inclusive to enjoy limitless massages.
Best for ... getting away from it all
Taveuni Island Resort. 90-minute flight from NadI airport.
Known as the Garden Island thanks to tropical weather, lush Taveuni is one of the most beautiful places to stay in Fiji.
With just 12 luxury ocean-view bures and one Oceanfront Villa with stunning views of the Somosomo Straits, guests can rest assured of five-star personal treatment.
My accommodation is impressive and spacious - my large front door opens into a lounge area, which leads to a beautifully furnished bedroom, boasting a king-size bed, en suite bathroom and a private outdoor shower.
While away your trip lazing by the resort infinity pool, lounging on a sunbed in your bure’s garden or spend a day in the spa. It was here I had one of the best massages I’ve ever experienced.
However, the real beauty of the island resort is in its location. Take advantage of this by booking yourself on the Bouma Falls Park day-trip. It takes an hour to drive there, past remote villages and friendly faces. Then enjoy an hour’s walk through the national heritage park, navigating rocky streams and tiny bridges, meeting local children busy working and catching fish for their dinner.
To get to the waterfalls, we have to swim as there’s no footpath.
Top tip: Book a one-on-one yoga session with teacher Roberta Lombardi for a truly inspirational workout.
For more information, visit Tourism Fiji UK (www.fijime.com - 0800 652 2158).
Cathay Pacific is due to launch a new route between Heathrow and Fiji via Hong Kong (www.cathypacific.com).
Air Pacific fly from Australia to Nadi (From FJD$440 one way) www.
Stay at Nukubait for FJ$2,840 +tax for five nights www.nukubati.com.
Book at luxury oceanfront bure at Tavenui Island Resort for US$462.50 per person per night wwwtavenuiislandresort.com.
A seven-night course at Daku, including accommodation and domestic airfares, costs from Aus$2,280-£1,200 www.dakuresort.com.
A five-day all-inclusive cruise on the Tui Tai costs from US$3,193 www.tuitai.com.