Even though the islands of Fiji are over 6,000 miles away, the people of Fiji will make you feel right at home. Our overnight Fiji Airlines flight departed from L.A. and when the sun came up, we were landing in Fiji. Clearing emigration and customs in Fiji, I was greeted with “welcome home”.
During WWII, the US had a large military presence in Fiji as a first line of defense against invasion from Japan. Fortunately, the islands were never attacked but the people of Fiji are so grateful for the US presence that they still greet Americans joyfully with “welcome home”. Fijians love Americans!
I traveled as a guest of the Fiji Tourism Board with five other travel advisors from across the US. We stayed in four amazing resorts and saw firsthand the beautiful, unspoiled beaches, the unique hikes and activities and genuine warmth of the Fijian people.
Fiji is famous for its vibrantly colored soft coral reef, the third largest in the world and there is a visible effort at the resorts to keep their island home as pristine as possible. At each resort, we were shown the behind-the-scenes efforts at conservation.
The luxurious Jean Michael Cousteau on the island of Vanua Levu carries on the Cousteau legacy in everything they do. Each of the twenty-four individual bures, or grass-thatched villas, are naturally cooled with well-planned cross ventilation.
Their full-time marine biologist works constantly to study the changes in the 60 km Namena reef that surrounds them in the Savusavu Bay. Their team plants coral to keep the reef as healthy as possible. Much of the food is grown onsite by a team of gardeners using recycled grey water and resort compost. But there is romance and family fun as well.
I spent the afternoon with a picnic and book in a hammock on the small private island a short boat or kayak ride away. I saw brilliant blue starfish for the first time in the shallow water offshore.
The Bula Club for kids is complimentary and full of adventures and crafts. Young children have their own nanny included in the stay so parents can enjoy the daily included activities like waterfall hikes, visits to a local village and farmers market, spa treatments and more.
As expected, Jean Michel Cousteau Resort has a well-staffed PADI dive center with multiple dive masters. I loved diving in the colorful soft coral reef and seeing hundreds fish and a turtle. Of course, they offer PADI dive certification at the resort for anyone who wants to learn how to dive. Fresh food, friendly staff and world-class diving in the bay offshore makes this resort great for all ages.
Nanuku Island Resort is located on a 500 acre oceanfront estate about an hour drive from the capital, Suva. There is also a private airstrip for those visitors who simply can’t wait.
We were greeted again by drumbeating, singing warriors in traditional attire. The greeting extended to my name spelled out in white rocks at the bottom of my own private plunge pool.
The villas are large with a private pool enclosure including lounge chairs and hammock, living area with minifridge and fruit and separate bedroom and bathroom. In addition to the spacious soaking tub, it was wonderful to stand under the outdoor shower and wash away the day’s salt and sand.
Like the Cousteau resort, Nanuku takes conservation seriously. We toured a large garden, fishpond recycling grey water and I saw my first mongoose in the garden, although snakes are not a threat in Fiji.
Fijians are proud of their culture and are eager to share it with authentic cultural experiences. I loved our warrior cooking class and nighttime firewalking presentation.
The ancient tradition of fire walking firewalking is exclusive to the small island of Beqa. We felt privileged to witness this sacred tradition when they arrived at Nanuku for the resort show.
Families are welcome at Nanuku with their kid’s club activities and kid’s pool. They are so busy we didn’t see any in the oceanfront infinity pool. Nanuku is also set up for beautiful weddings on the beach or on an ocean front balcony. We had a romantic private dinner on the dock surrounded by candles and our own waiter. Whitewater rafting, diving, snorkeling, a spa visit and massage, crab hunting in the mangroves or a visit to Nanuku’s private island make this a great resort for everyone.
Our third stop was Six Senses Resort on Malolo Island, only 16 miles from Nadi international airport. It is an exhilarating speedboat or catamaran ride or you can take a seaplane. Again, the Fijian welcome committee is large and singing loudly at the dock.
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