Beqa, located offshore from the Coral Coast, is only fifteen square kilometers, and has no roads, no towns and only a few isolated villages scattered around the perimeter. Beqa (pronounced Benga) is surrounded by one of the largest barrier reefs in the world and lies 8 km South off Viti Levu about 130 km from Nadi. Although isolated, the advantage of staying here (say vs. the Mamanuca Group) is that you’ll experience a much greater sense of Fijian hospitality. The locals that live here are true villagers and because of the rural nature of the island they are naturally friendlier. They simply see fewer visitors that locals who live in Nadi or the Coral Coast.
The Beqa Lagoon Resort (formally Marlin Bay Resort) is located on a gorgeous spot on on Beqa Lagoon and has recieved excellent reviews from readers (particularly surfers and divers). The island is only fifteen square kilometers, and has no roads, no towns and only a few isolated villages scattered around the perimeter. Beqa (pronounced Benga) is surrounded by one of the largest barrier reefs in the world and lies 8 km South off Viti Levu (see above map) about 130 km from Nadi. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and just behind the resort the land slopes into a tropical forest where you can visit a waterfall. Their 12 nicely appointed beach front Bures are scattered among coconut and papaya trees, and all have private verandas with plunge pools. In addition, there are four 2-bedroom units, and several garden bures situated around an exquisite koi pond. The Bure Koloa is the centre of resort life with its soaring thatched roof reaching more than 80 feet above an expansive verandah. It is here that guests gather for gourmet dining, liquid refreshment, fun, conversation and planning the next day’s adventure. The water from the tap is drinkable and comes from a nearby spring.
The Chef is excellent. He features an appetizer and two main course choices for dinner. The menu changes daily with fish every dinner and chicken and other 'turf' options rotating. All are prepared with flair from fresh ingredients. Desserts were wonderful and varied. The workers, mostly people from the neighboring villages of Ravi Ravi and Rakua are friendly and accommodating. The beach at Beqa was small, with a lot of coral rubble with few areas of nice sand. There are a couple of other nearby beaches accessible by walking or kayaking, but aren’t much better. There s great live local music at dinner every night and there are occasional “meke” (traditional dance) as well as firewalking. (In case you didn’t know Beqa is the home of Fijian fire walking). No TV at the resort, which is nice. Phone and Internet connection are available at the office—not at the rooms. Included in the rates are the full use of kayaks, windsurfers, picnic/ boat trips to a secluded island, and unlimited use of snorkeling equipment. In fact, all activities are included (except game fishing). A beautiful new swimming pool with waterfall has just been completed. Activities include excellent surfing, diving and fishing. (At various times of the year you can bag big pelagics such as yellow fin tuna, Black Marlin, Barracuda,Blue Marlin, Wahoo and Spanish Mackerel). The resort has been renovating and expanding, and is trying very hard to please all guests. There are several dive boats now in service. Prices begin at around US$300.00 per night for Garden View or Koi Pond Villa and go up to US$400 Honeymoon Villa. Gourmet Meal Plan (Adult; 3 meals daily) is $60.00.
Diving: Beqa Lagoon is the submerged crater of an extinct volcano, and Beqa Island is where the lip of the crater breaks the surface. The diving within the lagoon is relatively shallow (less than 100') with walls and deep water on the outside. The lagoon is nutrient-rich so hard and soft coral and small reef life proliferate. In addition, there are a fair amount of larger pelagic fish, turtles, etc. There is a great shark dive that is very popular, and out toward Frigate Pass you can see mantas, eagle rays and passing humpback whales in season. The water temperatures range from an average of 78o F in the winter (Jul-Aug) to 82 oF in the summer (Feb-Mar). A 3-5mm wetsuit is recommended in the winter and a skin-3mm suit for the summer.
Beqa Lagoon Resort's in-house dive operation is a PADI facility that offers classes up through Divemaster. Open water referrals are accepted from any agency if you want to finish off your certification while at the resort. They can provide rental equipment (mask, fins, snorkel, BCD, regulator and wetsuits), but it is suggested that you bring your own equipment. If you do want to rent your gear, it is a good idea to let them know at the time of your booking. They have three 50' mono-hull dive boats with covered areas that carry up to 20 divers each, which come in very handy to accommodate groups and divers who want to go to different sites. All 3 are covered and have heads on board, and they all feature water level entries and exits. The guides (who must be rated at least as Rescue Divers) have an in-water maximum of 6 divers each. Weights, belts and aluminum 80 tanks are provided. The dive shop can do minor adjustments or repairs, but is not set up for any serious repairs and they don't have a retail shop.
Distance from most dive sites: While there are over 30 dive sites inside and outside the lagoon, the majority are within 30 minutes of the resort. There are many within 5-10 minutes, and the most distant are about a 45 minute boat ride. There is reasonable shore diving and snorkeling right off the resort. Snorkelers can join the dive boat on a space available basis. Snorkeling is decent from the beach, with a long reef about 50 meters out over the flats with the bottom at around 10 meters and the top at 0-1 meter depending on the tide. You can see longnose filefish, clownfish, lots of small tropicals, some small tridacnas, lots of Christmas tree worms. Other activities include excellent surfing and fishing.
Owned and operated by Brad and Sue de Geus since 2008, Lalati Resort is a boutique, ocean side property. Lalati attracts divers but it’s by no means a pure dive resort. Non-divers will be comfortable and will have plenty to do. Management likes to think of Lalati as an adventure/honeymoon type destination--a luxury property for active people.
It has five ocean front villas, two honeymoon suites (with private courtyard and Jacuzzi) and three sea view cottages. Each ocean front villa has 2 large bedrooms (that can accommodate up to four persons) with a king size bed in the main bedroom a second bedroom with a queen. There is a comfortable sitting area, with tiled bath and shower, and a large, covered veranda (with hammock) on the veranda. (Sea view cottages sleep two).
The villa is just a few feet meters way from the water's edge. The three sea view cottages units are set back from the beach among a well tended garden. They have one very comfortable bedroom as well as a cozy sitting area and veranda. The grounds are immaculately maintained and designed so that water drains back into the ocean during the many periods of rain. (There’s a reason why everything is so green around here.)
Breakfast options are plentiful. You can choose from omelets, pancakes, French toast and homemade meusli. There are daily breakfast specials such as steak hash or heuvos rancheros.
Lunch and dinner have two choices. Lunch is either a salad or a meat/fish/vegetarian entrée. (Individuals with special dietary requests are accommodated). Since they purchased the property Brad and Sue have slowly made improvements and will be renovating the ocean front villas.
One guest reported to Undercurrent that he was thoroughly impressed with the service. Rates begin (for a seven night stay) US$164 per person (double), which entails transfers, accommodation, 3 meals, kayaking and other non-motorized resort activities, including snorkeling, hot tub, pool, and yoga facilities. (They even have yoga mats).
The Loloma Spa, a separate building on the property is staffed by native Fijians who have extensive experience in the healing arts. Holistic treatments are derived from indigenous plants, locally gathered products such as papaya, pineapple, mango and guava, pure virgin coconut oil, sea salt, raw cane sugar, seaweed, local nuts, star fruit, leaves from the banana and ti plants. These are used in body wraps, scrubs, facials and signature massages.
Activities revolve, as one would expect, around the ocean. Diving the Beqa lagoon is superb. Soft coral are both numerous and come in a variety of colors. The biodiversity is huge and if you’re observant you’ll see just about every species in the fish book. The dive operation here differentiates itself from the other Beqa property by sheer numbers. Lalati is a small resort and by definition their dive boat is not going to take large parties.
In addition to the diving there’s a variety of activities. The guided kayak trip to Bat Island, an islet surrounded by thick ring of mangroves, several kilometers from the resort, was my favorite. Thousands of huge fruit bats inhabit this tiny piece of real estate and with a little bit of audio prodding they alight from the trees and take flight. There are also waterfall treks,
mountain treks, village visits, herbal medicine walks (where the use of local plants are demonstrated), snorkel safaris and private island picnics on Storm Island aka Nanuku. You can also do Mainland sightseeing excursions to Suva and adventure tours that include boat trips up the Navua River, Jet skis, zip lining or even white water rafting.
Although it's done occasionally on Viti Levu, the family connection with the participants is almost always linked to Beqa. It was once strictly a ritual for and by Fijians but in recent years is performed almost always for vulagi (visitors).
For more background information on this ancient ritual, visit our culture background page on Fijiguide.com.
(Photo Credits: Firewalking postcard from Jane Resture).