Six Days in Heaven: Fiji Island Paradise
We are mesmerized by the tropical postcard beauty of the Fijian islands. It is as if it was created to be the most beautiful place on earth. Our boat glides through turquoise waters and palm-fringed islands with white-sand beaches, making us feel as though we were dreaming. Along the way we pass interesting rock formations and picture-perfect tropical islands on our way to the first destination in the Yasawa Islands.
When we finally arrived near the island, the resort’s water taxi pulled up next to our boat to gather our luggage and us for the short five-minute ride across the narrow passage of azure waters. At low tide it felt as if we could almost walk the distance between the small islands. As our boat reached the shore, we were greeted by resort staff awaiting our arrival on the beach, welcoming us us by singing and waving. After making the acquaintance of the staff we were presented with a welcome drink and officially welcomed to our new home.
Navutu Stars is a small boutique resort in the beautiful Yasawa Islands. Bungalows, called bures, are scattered along the beach in between palm trees and lush vegetation with hammocks and lounge chairs. The accommodations contain comfortable king beds, sitting areas, and spacious decks with doors that open up to beautiful views and island breezes. In anticipation of our arrival, our room was decorated with tropical flowers and our beds contained messages of welcome. I particularly liked the footbath near our entrance overflowing with flowers.
The thatched-roof dining pavilion faces the ocean and palm-lined beach with beautiful views of the paradise we have chosen. Meals are a highlight with professionally trained chefs who create Italian-style cuisine and plenty from which to choose. I can’t resist the lobster salad, caught fresh with locally grown vegetables. It is the perfect choice with large chunks of lobster drizzled with a tropical dressing.
The warm turquoise waters beckon us to enjoy a leisurely swim. At low tide we wade out past the coral reef to be able to stand and to swim. The warm salt water provides buoyancy, and we amuse ourselves by floating on our backs gazing up at the bright blue sky and savoring a perfect day in paradise.
Daily activities include fishing, snorkeling, a walk to the local village, participating in a kava ceremony (the island’s narcotic beverage), and massages.
The Spa Bure is located on the beach, where we are scheduled for a beachside massage while listening to the waves lapping against the shore and the wind rustling through the palm trees.
Days take on a relaxed schedule of meals, swimming, walks along the beach, snorkeling, massages, and naps while our every need is attended to. At sunset the sky is awash with orange and raspberry sherbet colors while we sip tropical cocktails. Our vacation in paradise has exceeded our expectations. When it is finally time to leave, the staff offers a fragrant necklace of hibiscus and plumeria and sings the goodbye song sending us on our way.
Getting there: Take a seaplane from Nadi Airport, a 30-minute flight over beautiful islands, or take the four-hour ferry aboard the Yasawa Flyer.
Details: Navutu Stars is a five-star boutique property ideal for those seeking privacy and romance in paradise. This is an ideal honeymoon or destination wedding choice. The resort offer 10 bures, most beachside. Gourmet meals are prepared using fresh-caught seafood and locally grown produce prepared by French-trained chefs. A spa is available for added pampering. The property is for adults only. Room rates range from $344 to $552 per night plus taxes.
Two Tickets to Paradise
We are in a tiny plane flying low over the coral reefs and islands on our way to the island of Vanua Levu, where the luxury resort Namale Fiji awaits. After a short drive to the property we arrive on the resort grounds set on 500 acres amidst lush vegetation, palm trees, and beautifully manicured shrubs. As we disembark the staff lines up to greet us with a Fijian welcome song.
With a capacity for only 44 guests and a staff of 120, the service is what sets this resort apart. After an orientation and welcome drink we are shown to our room. Each of the 19 luxury bures have unique floor plans and distinct offerings. Our bure has a beautiful infinity pool dividing the two halves of the living area: One side contains the dining room, living room, and bathroom with outdoor shower while the other has an air conditioned bedroom, a living room, a dressing area, a bathroom with a stone tub and another outdoor shower, perfect for romance.
The infinity pool is mesmerizing overlooking the Koro Sea and coral reefs. A welcome bottle of champagne decorated with flowers is waiting for us. Sipping champagne in the pool while gazing out over the ocean, it is hard to imagine life could be any more perfect.
The resort allows us to choose when and where we eat our meals. One morning, we arrange to eat breakfast at a private waterfall. Our breakfast is transported to the beautiful waterfall, where we enjoy a delightful meal and beautifully adorned table. After eating, we have time to swim beneath the waterfall and enjoy some privacy while experiencing nature. Beachside dining or enjoying a romantic dinner in an ocean-side grotto are easily arranged by resort staff who are eager to create memorable experiences.
Activities abound. Golf, horseback riding, swimming, spa treatments, a fitness center, bowling, diving, snorkeling, an ocean-side trampoline … the list is endless. I opt for a reflexology treatment at the spa. While I am receiving the complimentary foot treatment, I am delighted by the sight of dolphins frolicking in the ocean. Afterward, I lounge in the aromatherapy pools and finish with a waterfall massage.
Service is attentive. Any time we require anything—a bottle of chilled champagne, perhaps—we have only to pick up the phone and it is delivered to our bure.
Nightly turndown service includes arranging the mosquito net around the bed and scattering flowers on the covers along with a chocolate treat placed on the pillow. Should we desire a special bath with flowers, it can be easily arranged. Instead we choose to savor the infinity pool at night with stars overhead. Each morning we are awakened by the beautiful sunrise as we watch the sky transformed from gray to golden to bright blue.
Getting there: Pacific Sun offers direct flights to/from Nadi Airport.
Details: Namale Fiji is a five-star, all-inclusive resort with only 19 bures. Guests who are seeking luxury, privacy, and relaxation find it here. There are ample activities from which to choose, or guests can enjoy the amenities within their own bures, such as private pools. This is an ideal place to plan a wedding, honeymoon, or romantic getaway. The resort has received countless awards, including the Travelers’ Choice No. 1 Hotel for Romance in the South Pacific and the No. 1 Ultimate Honeymoon Suite in Fiji by Modern Bride, to name only a few.
Paradise on Earth
Our boat flies across the water, leaving a sizable wake as we pass by islands, clear turquoise waters, and coral reefs. Sometimes we catch sight of flying fish. Soon we spy our destination, the island of Taveuni. At the dock we are greeted by staff from the resort and loaded into an air-conditioned truck for the short drive.
As soon as our car pulls into the resort, we see the resort staff lined up to greet us with a Fijian welcome song. We are given a flower necklace and a coconut welcome drink and meet the resort owner, Kelly. Taveuni Palms is the ultimate in luxury with only three villas. Each is attended to by a staff of seven, with chefs, spa attendants, housekeepers, etc. While providing the ultimate in luxury, they also offer privacy and discretion. Need more champagne? Pick up the phone and someone is happy to provide any request.
We are staying in the Beach Villa with its own private beach access, which thrills us to be able to swim in the ocean whenever we wish. The villa is spacious with two master bedrooms containing outdoor showers and an indoor living and dining area. The design incorporates usable outdoor living space: a large deck with a hammock and table, a promenade overlooking the ocean for dining, and an abundance of places to lounge and appreciate the postcard-worthy views, including a covered lanai adjacent to the pool. Surely we must be in heaven!
My favorite place is our own private pool that overlooks the beautiful beach. We bring our welcome bottle of champagne adorned by a bouquet of tropical flowers to the pool to celebrate our good fortune. It is some time before lunch so they bring a fruit plate that we enjoy poolside. Paradise doesn’t get any better than this.
I am content never to leave this beautiful villa; we have everything we need right here. But the following day we are tempted away by the description of the snorkeling adventure. Rainbow Reef offers some of the ocean’s largest biodiversity with an abundance of colorful fish and coral. It turns out to be a spectacular underwater adventure. After arriving back to our villa, we are greeted with a cold drink. Showering in the outdoor shower with the Fijian coconut products is a treat, as is lunch on our terrace. Fresh-caught fish, prepared in so many imaginative ways, is always a highlight.
I can’t resist a spa treatment and choose a Dilo wrap, a native plant that is great for rehydration and sunburned skin. First, they provide a relaxing massage, beachside, just before sunset. Then I am slathered in this magic oil and wrapped in banana leaves, like a piece of meat to marinate. They place flowers on top of the banana leaves and provide a facial and scalp massage. Perhaps it is the magic of being on the beach, listening to the waves or the sun sinking in the sky or the treatment itself, but this is the best body treatment I have ever received. My skin feels silky smooth and soothed from the excess sun exposure, and I feel invigorated.
Finding the perfect location from which to view the sunset each day becomes a priority, along with finding the ideal cocktail. Meals are anticipated with great delight. Dinners are four-course prix fixe serving the catch of the day along with other delicious courses of freshly grown fruits and vegetables. Our table settings are artfully created, incorporating fresh flowers and beautiful place settings. Since we are splurging, each meal concludes with dessert. Of course, room service is available all day long.
At night, torches are set up around the landscaping along with lanterns at the dining table and the pool. It is as if everything we could wish for has been anticipated and already provided for us and our only job is to enjoy ourselves.
On the last night, we spend hours staring up at the stars overhead. They are so bright, almost dazzling. Time passes much too quickly, and I find myself sad to leave our magical Fijian paradise so soon. My only comfort is that I will return and stay even longer next time.
Getting there: Fly from Nadi to Taveuni in approximately 30 minutes.
Details: Taveuni Palms is a five-star luxury property offering the ultimate in service and privacy. The resort was voted the World’s Leading Boutique Island Resort at the World Travel Awards for the third year in a row and one of the Top 10 Island Resorts in the World by Trip Advisor. Taveuni Palms offers the ultimate romantic vacation, perfect for a honeymoon or destination wedding. Rooms range from $1,500 to $2,500 per night.
About Fiji: Fiji is located in the South Pacific and contains 333 islands. It is the ultimate in romantic vacations, honeymoons, and destination weddings. For more information about planning your own unforgettable vacation, visit Tourism Fiji. Fiji is a 10-hour direct flight from LAX aboard Fiji Airways’ new A330 planes. The cabins offer 24 reclining beds in business class while 249 seats comprise economy class. Fijian hospitality marks the service on board.