Fiji is about as close to paradise as you can get. This South Pacific archipelago, over three hundred islands lying around 2000km east of Australia, has some of the world’s most glorious stretches of palm-backed sand, myriad crystal-clear lagoons and a blissful tropical climate.
It’s no surprise that Fiji is the destination of choice for thousands of honeymooners, backpackers and families each year. But with almost a hundred resorts throughout the islands, choosing where to stay can be overwhelming. The range of options is huge: Fijian resorts run the gamut from simple beachside bures (traditional thatched huts) with cold-water showers to opulent villas with hardwood floors and private spa pools.
To help you decide, we’re giving you a sneak peek inside the new Rough Guide to Fiji. We’ve whittled the resorts down to six of the best, each aimed at a different type of traveller.
Offshore from the rugged island of Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest, lie three islands home to some of the top private island resorts. What really sets the superb Matangi Island Resort apart are the beautiful treehouse bures set in forest that is home to orange doves, silktails and parrots. Bures, both treehouse and beachside, are spacious, with high ceilings, en-suite bathrooms and outdoor rainforest showers. There’s also a swimming pool and delightful restaurant and the scuba diving nearby is first-class. It’s run by fifth-generation descendants of the Mitchell family; originally farmers, they’ve lived here for over 100 years.
This exquisite resort on the limestone island of Vatulele offers fine dining, nineteen private villas and a ratio of four staff to every guest. Straddling a beautiful white-sand beach and with its own tiny offshore island used as a picnic spot, the resort ranks as one of the finest in Fiji. Residents can even kayak out to a small islet in the lagoon where adorable red-footed boobies and their fluffy offspring are spotted in season.
Viti Levu, the biggest island in the archipelago at over 10,000 square kilometres, is where most visitors arrive and is a good place to start a trip. If you’re after a party atmosphere, head for the picturesque lagoons of the Coral Coast where the Beachouse sits beside tall coconut palms and a white sandy beach. You’ll be made to feel instantly at home here: there’s a good swimming pool and bar, the food is tasty and there’s loads to do – from waterfall hikes to sea kayaking.
Hidden at the southeastern tip of the Natewa Peninsula on Vanua Levu is Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat, one of the best places to access the stunning corals and fish of the workd-famous Rainbow Reef. Half the pleasure of this resort is in the motorboat trip to get to there, but arriving is a treat too: the simple but appealing bamboo bures and safari tents sit right beside the beach. The dive instructors are adept, and the coral reef just offshore is also a paradise for snorkellers. Excellent meals are enjoyed communally at a central bure: meal plans are a must as there’s nothing else for miles.
The Mamanuca island chain is one of Fiji’s biggest draws, famed for it’s spotless beaches, calm lagoons and some of the country’s best weather. Among the 32 small islands is picturesque Malolo Lailai, where you’ll find Plantation Island Resort. A large resort bustling with young families, it boasts a stunning palm-fringed beach and a specially cordoned-off lagoon area as well as three swimming pools; windsurfing boards and kayaks are available to borrow. Restaurants, bars, shops and an espresso and juice bar complete the picture.
One of the best ways to explore the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni is on the luxurious Tui Tai Adventure Cruise. The cruise takes place on a 42m, three-masted schooner with air-conditioned cabins, en-suite bathrooms, spa treatments and on-deck daybeds. along the way you can dolphin-watch, snorkel or dive the Great Sea Reef and kayak up the mangrove-lined nasavu River to a remote village. Probably the only time you’ll run into other travellers is on the visit to Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni. The cruise also calls in at the gloriously remote Ringgold Islands and the fascinating cultural enclaves of Kioa and Rabi.
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