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Vanua Levu Accommodations & Dining

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Recommended Savusavu Accommodations


Savusavu Hot Springs Hotel

S
avusavu Hot Springs Hotel in the midst of downtown Savusavu is 

a great bet if you want to stay in town. Run by a local couple, Lorna and Tim Eden, they have 48 rooms that have recently been upgraded. Perhaps the best thing about the place is the splendid view of Savusavu Bay—one of the most spectacular bodies of water in Fiji. It’s a great place meet local people and there’s often entertainment such as live bands on the weekends.

It's also very reasonably priced. Tariffs for standard rooms start at F$95 and tops out at F$155 for a more luxurious room. Rooms have queen beds with additional singles on request, tea/coffee making facilities and refrigerator. Connecting rooms are also available which is handy for families. Two self contained single or double bedroom apartments are 

also available at weekly or monthly rates.

They also offer, bush treks and sport fishing. The property has backpacker dorms as well on the first floor that are better in quality than the competition. There's also a restaurant which has great views and affordable (F$15-$30) meals. The last time I was in Savusavu I had a terrific grilled fish at their restaurant.


Daku Resort

I’m also fond of Daku Resort which has become one of the more active resorts in Savusavu whilst retaining all its friendly charm. Situated in a former coconut plantation by the sea (within walking distance of town) they cater to the mid-range demographics and cater to families, couples, groups and long terms guests who need cooking facilities. They also run various holiday courses throughout the year – yoga is a big one and they have built a yoga platform with lovely view out over the bay.

There’s also singing (when the groups visit the local village choirs), writing, painting and bird watching. www.paradisecourses.com. You can find some excellent snorkelling and diving packages with them: they work with Jean-Michel Cousteau which is 5k down the road).

They are well plugged in to local activities and will arrange village visits, tapa (traditional bark cloth) decorating sessions, talks on the many uses of the coconut in Fijian culture, trips to nearby waterfalls and even a drive up into the jungle to see the hot springs at Nakabolou. And their own masseur is a real gem – enjoy an hour of bliss under his hands either in your own bure or up in the yoga space.

They offer a range of types of accommodation starting at F$195 for ocean (F$285); a villa that can handle a family of four or five (F$320); a newly (Jan 2012) renovated Poolhouse that can sleep up to 11 with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, lounge, kitchen and a large covered deck; and two Bayside luxury villas each with two bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and lounge and its own private swimming pool. Most of the units have air conditioning.view bures (sleep 2); three double bures that can handle up to 6 people.

The restaurant offers a choice of Fijian, Indian and western dishes and caters to vegetarians and gluten free diets. Ask for the bora bean salad and the rourou (taro leaf) soup – a couple of the winners.

Among the activities, Daku Resort offers some good bird watching packages. There are a couple of options: you can do an ad hoc 4-day tour accompanied by Daku staff member Keni Tadulala – a good bird spotter but not a bird expert – for F$1210 per person (accommodation and meals not included). (Quote RKAYFIJI2012 and you’ll get a A$50 discount on the price). http://dakuresort.com/bird-watching-tours/
Or they offer a week with bird expert Phil Gregory : the next one is in June 2012. This is a fully organised trip and Phil accompanies it all: see http://paradisecourses.com/birdwatching-tours-fiji/.

The Copra Shed Marina, although primarily a business center, also has three double occupancy rooms available. All include large, clean bath, TV and phone. They are clean, modern and especially handy if you’ve got a nearby yacht.Two of the units go for F$165 and the third for F$130. Price includes full breakfast at the nearby Captain's Cafe for up to two people. Only dfference with the least expensive unit is that it doesn't have the sea view.  Ask for Dolly or Lewa for more information. Tel: (679) 885-0457 or reach them at coprashed@connect.com.fj

Where to Eat in Savusavu

Captain's Table is at the Copra Shed Marina situated on the wharf side facing the bay. The Seaview, down the street from Hot Springs Hotel has excellent breakfasts and the best curries in town for $5-8. Also at the Copra Shed, the Captains Cafe has excellent breakfasts-two eggs, whole wheat bread and fruit plate for about $10. In the evening try their pizza. Eat out on the deck overlooking the yachts and the bay. Another old favorite is Country Kitchen on Main Street. It's the best for Indian curries. Decked Out Cafe is also popular and offers a variety of local fare that has received good reviews. It's an outdoor cafe with picnic tables and a plethora of decking that is reminicent of a wharf.

Recommended Accommodations Outside of Savusavu


Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, located a 15 minute ride from Savusavu, is managed and operated by the same group that owns the Post Ranch Inn in California’s Big Sur, Sea Ranch Lodge on Northern California’s coast, and Cavallo Point, the Lodge at the Golden Gate. The World Travel Awards named JMC “Fiji’s Leading Resort” in 2009 and the prestigious ‘Conde Nast Traveler’ awarded the Resort their #1 ‘Green Award’ over all resorts worldwide for 2005. It’s located on Lesiaceva Point, a ten minute taxi ride from town and with views of both the Koro Sea and Savusavu Bay. (For a great primer on this property read Scott Putnam's blogs--Welcome to JMC, I get settled (into JMC), and Cousteau at Night.

The resort offers 25 spacious, Fijian style bures, situated on 17 oceanfront acres. All bures have king and day beds, a large, tiled bathroom with heated towel racks, and private decks. While the bures are spaced somewhat close together, beautiful tropical foliage shields each bure from the other; however, if there are babies crying or children are in the midst of a meltdown, you will hear it. This is not a place for those seeking Robinson Crusoe solitude.

Management refers to the resort as “full-service” and caters to a wide range of travelers – active couples, families, soft-adventurers, snorkelers and divers. Separate pools for adults and children. Activities for kids are provided (unusual for an upscale property in Fiji) with the ‘Bula Club’, Lei Lei Holiday Programs for children up to 7 years old and the Marau Holiday Program for kids 6 to 12. Both programs are complimentary for two children with a nominal charge for more than two. (The Lei Lei and Marau programs have their own ‘sun-safe’ swimming pools). Parents may join their children for meals in the Bula Camp area or eat together in the family dining room. A ‘dedicated’ nanny is assigned to the children throughout their stay. “The Bula Camp program was a ‘highlight’ of our stay here, the nanny was terrific with our children and we never had a worry, giving us much needed time for ourselves” recent guests from Australia. A marine biologist and a Fijian naturalist are also on staff to educate guests. Reserve a half-day trip to your own private island; the staff will prepare a picnic lunch. Catch a complimentary Cousteau van into Savusavu for sightseeing and shopping.

Live Fijian music is performed in the evenings, outstanding 12 string guitar and ukelele, and there’s an open-air restaurant with local and international dishes prepared with many ingredients from the resort’s organic fruit and vegetable garden. Separate dining areas for families and couples assure a pleasant dining experience. Meals can be taken in your bure, under a private thatched roof covered table next to the sea or reserve an exclusive table at the end of the pier for truly romantic dining. Typical menus include homemade soups, fresh salads, a choice of a vegetarian, fish or meat dishes, and desserts made daily by the resort’s pastry chef. Meal menus run on a one-week cycle; if you stay longer than one week, you will be able to repeat your favorite meals or try others. The food here is unbelievably good. There are resorts that offer good food and there are resorts that offer GREAT food - Cousteau is in the latter camp. Three course meals at both lunch and dinner, every course a culinary delight.

  1. The bures are very close together. You can hear loud conversations in adjacent bures. If there are babies crying or children in the midst of a meltdown, you will hear it all.
  2. The service here is par-none. During one visit I was under the weather and the staff bent over backwards to make me feel comfortable. Every few hours they would check up on me, bringing me cold ginger beer and cold compresses. The outstanding service begins the moment you arrive on the property. Upon check-in nannies are already assigned and waiting for the children, who gleefully and immediately quit their parents for play at Bula Club. The parents/adults are then escorted to their bures where a massage team is waiting. As the staff puts your luggage in the bure, the parents are treated to a foot and leg cleansing/rub/massage. A very nice touch.
  3. If the villa is not booked, the property will occasionally host a wine and cheese reception with hors d'oeuvres at the villa. It's a very classy, relaxed event that's a mix of a Napa wine tasting and a cocktail party.

  4. The resident marine biologist presents audio-visual programs during cocktail hour, educating both children and adults about the critters found just off-shore. It's a very entertaining 1/2 hour. During the day, the marine biologist accompanies children and adults on snorkeling/glass bottom boat/mangrove excursions, educating both about what they are seeing (or touching). Occasionally, the marine biologist accompanies the divers on their adventures.

Bula Club: The resort’s children’s club deserves special mention as it is unbelievably great. The Bula Club experience begins the moment a family arrives on the property. Upon completion of check-in, nannies or child activity directors introduce themselves and present the children with an opportunity for immediate play or discovery. With few exceptions, children gleefully and immediately quit their parents and only return for naps and sleep. Teenage children can find plenty to do here as well, learning to dive or exploring the reefs and ocean, but the program is not geared to this age group.

Dive Notes:Jean-Michel Cousteau, himself, and his associate, Don Santee, oversee the resort’s dive operation. As one would expect with such a pedigree, the resort’s dive boats, dive shop, and dive educational programs are par none. Nitrox is available as is every known tourist PADI dive course. The dive sites immediately surrounding the property are on the relative Fijian grade of good, but they’re not fantastic. However, twice a week, the resort ventures out to the Namena Marine Reserve to dive the best reefs in Fiji. For an inside view of JMC's dive attraction be sure and check out Scott Putnam's videos. These include Namena Reserve Park: Chimneys and Grand Central Station. Scott also waxes elequently in his blogs that feature JMC dive sites. These include All About Alice --Scott Putnam talks diving at JMC and elaborates on his newest video, and The Lighthouse Dive Site at JMC.

Prices start at $810.75 a night for the garden view bures (including tax) and go much higher for the villa. Price includes all meals and bottled soft drinks, milk and juice (excepting specially prepared mixed non-alcoholic drinks (milkshakes and the like), alcohol drinks, laundry, and room service). Most activities, like tennis, sailing, swimming, rugby, hiking, weaving, snorkeling, guided walks, and village visits are free. Fee activities include massages, babysitting outside the 8 am to 9 pm window, scuba diving, sailing boat charters, kayak trips down a river, reserving an island, deep-sea fishing, mountain biking, town trips, a pearl farm tour, and private snorkeling charters. Children 12 and under stay free.

Moody’s Namenalala Island
Moody’s Namenalala Island is a 110-acre resort and nature reserve, 24 km south of Vanua Levu (off Wainunu Bay) and 32 km north-west of Koro. It houses twelve guests in six hand-crafted bures situated among trees and jungle vegetation. The island is crisscrossed with paths that lead to precipitous cliffs and lonely beaches. As one observer said, it's as close to a 'Survivor' scenario as you're likely to see.

The accommodations feature floor-to-ceiling sliding wooden doors on three sides so that you'll both get a get views and the cooling effect of the wonderful trade winds. The visitor is treated to a canopied king-sized bed with mosquito netting and the sounds of the sea lapping at the shore.

The owner, Tom Moody, make use of both fossil fuels and solar energy. Each unit has a propane tank to heat the shower water, a hot plate for coffee, and to power the gas lamps. Roof gutters capture rainwater (no well water on this island) which is stored in a cistern below the floors. Seawater is used for flushing the toilets. A solar panel powers a small reading light and fan over the bed.

Dinners are served at two large family-style tables that always include fresh homemade bread and an iceberg lettuce, tomato and onion salad. In addition to locally caught fish such as mahimahi you're likely to get chicken, pasta with tomato sauce, plantains, lamb chops and other American-style cuisine. Desserts such as chocolate or cheesecake are made daily. You're not going to starve here.

The most stunning aspect is the pristine state of the flora and fauna. Because in the past there was no constant supply of fresh water, the island never supported a permanent human population. Consequently the island remained undisturbed. The Moody's have in fact left the island a wildlife sanctuary. Turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and other fauna such as flying foxes, small colonies of red-footed boobies and other bird life can be seen. Guests often include birders as well as divers.

The island has superb diving and snorkeling, windsurfing, shelling and fishing. Transport is either via Turtle Airways seaplane from Nadi to Namena, or by regularly scheduled flights to Savusavu, then by speedboat (1-3/4 hours) to the island.
Moody's has a five night minimum stay which includes accommodations, meals, activities, and round trip taxi transfers between the Savusavu Airport and Namena Island. Five night package cost is US$1375.00 + tax per person based on twin-share (2 people sharing a bure. Additional nights add US$215 + tax per person. Only additional-pay activity is scuba diving @ US$50 + tax per dive; must be a certified diver.

Dive Notes: Dive Activities and Facilities: Diving around Namenalala Island is spectacular. The Namena Barrier Reef which surrounds the island is over 30 km long with walls, bommies and a healthy, diversified ecosystem. In June 2004 the waters within the vast Namena Barrier Reef were declared a marine reserve with all commercial fishing banned. To compensate the native Fijian owners and to help preserve the ecosystem there is an annual fee of F$20 charged to each diver. There are sheer walls and drop-offs a mile deep at North Save-a-Tack Passage, and beautiful wall dives that wrap around the southern tip of the reef. On the opposite side of the reef at South Save-a-Tack Passage the diving consists of more sea mounts with small caverns and swim-throughs peppering the bommies. Note that some of the sites south of the island are not accessible during the winter months (July and August) due to their greater exposure. There are no moorings in the reserve, so Namena’s boats never drop anchor. Namena’s Barrier Reef is home to hundreds of varieties of reef life from nudibranchs, clownfish and beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers) to sharks, trevally, and manta rays. There are 2 species of turtle that nest on Namenalala, with Hawksbill being the most prevalent and green turtles being seen also. The turtle breeding, nesting and hatching season is typically between Nov and Mar. Expect water temperatures to be in the 75-78 degree F range during the winter (Jul-Aug) and 80-82 in the summer (Jan-Mar). A skin suit -2mm wetsuit is recommended for summer use, and 3-5mm suit for the winter months. There is a nominal charge for shore diving and snorkeling is also available from the resort. The shore diving is not comparable to the boat diving, but the snorkeling is good.

Namena does not offer any educational classes or a traditional dive shop. They do have 2 dive boats, each with a capacity of 12 divers; the Tofua is a 33’ cabin cruiser and the Salt Shaker is a 28’ launch with a 200 hp engine (making it almost twice as fast as the Tofua). Namena’s dive guides are all at least Rescue certified and maintain an in-water ratio of no more than 1 guide to 6 divers. A typical dive day is a morning dive (departing at around 9:00 and returning around 11:00) and an afternoon dive (usually departing between 1:30 and 2:00) with a surface interval and lunch back at the resort between dives. Additional diving may be done on request at the resort. Depending on sea conditions snorkelers may join the dive boats at no additional charge, and are provided their own snorkel guide. Aluminum 80 tanks, weights and belts are provided for divers, but if you need to rent gear be sure and let the resort know ahead of time so that they can make sure some is available for you.

Distance from most dive sites: The farthest sites are about 20-30 minutes away and the close-in sites around 5-10 minutes. The average travel time is about 15 minutes.

Hans Place
Just outside of Savusavu (between town and the Cousteau Resort) is a new accommodation called Hans Place run by a fellow who formerly operated the Bula Bookshop at the Copra Shed Marina. There are two self-contained units with kitchenette, living room, bedroom (with double bed) and bathroom (with shower and toilet). Located about 250 meters from the sea, these are small units, more suitable for couples or a single person rather than families. The lush garden appears to be well maintained. Rates start at F$80 daily for the “Yasiyasi” (F$400- weekly) and F$100 for the “Yaka” unit (F$ 500 weekly). Amenities include a covered deck and DVD/CD Player with TV.

Almost Paradise
Almost Paradise is located on Sau Bay on the eastern side of Vanua Levu—a 35 minute boat ride from Taveuni or a 20 minute boat ride from Buca Bay on Vanua Levu. It’s run by two former firefighters, Bruce & Geri-Sue Jacobson from San Clememte, CA . Geri-Sue is a divemaster who works for nearby Dolphin Bay Divers, so diving guests can easily hop on the boat with her on the mornings for some diving. The property is in a very sheltered spot with great snorkeling and a sandy beach close by. Boat rides to Rainbow Reef are priced to just cover gas, so it’s a set price per trip regardless of how many people are in the boat. They just opened up in2007, so everything is quite new (but not luxurious). In addition to the 3 meals/day (included in price), they serve appetizers at 5pm.. In general the food was quite good (international menu, heavier on American fare). Most of the wooden furniture was made by them. This is a great place for people who want a small, quiet place to stay at a reasonable price and don’t need a bunch of organized activities. Ssea kayaks are available. Rates are $195.00 FJD/day for 2 people. A third person added to a bure is an extra $75.00 FJD/day. Thanks to Monika Chase for her contribution to this piece.

Tropic Splendor Beachfront Cottage
Tropic Splendor Beachfront Cottage, one of the newest properties in Vanua Levu, is a fully self contained bungalow located a 20 minute drive outside of Savusavu on the north shore of Savusavu Bay. Run by Jeff & Susan Mather, this beachfront cottage is built and furnished to a high quality American standard and, is just steps from the beach .I was apprised of this property by Leslie O’Day a Reno, Nevada resident, who had a very positive experience there as a guest. She and her husband not only liked the amenities, but were fond of their hosts. It’s roomy with 600 sqare feet of interior space and a 600 square foot verandah. There are polished native hardwood floors and a natural wood interior decorated with Fijian handicrafts made by local craftsmen.Mrs. O ‘Day liked the attention to detail on the property such as the wrap around porch that “begs for a visit with its cushioned lounge chairs and hammock.” There’s also an outdoor garden shower with flowers and shells that she found romantic. The bedroom has a king-sized bed draped with netting, luxury linens, towels and tiled bathroom with hair dryer, heated towel rack and shower. Other amenities include telephone, radio & CD player, reading library, TV, DVD player and 400+ movie library. The daily rate (double accommodation) is F$360.00 or about US$209. The Mathers provide a 'Weary Travelers' gourmet dinner the first evening guests arrive. They also offer the visitor opportunities to get more intimately involved with local people. For example they will bring visitors to a neighboring village to try net fishing with the ladies, a billibilli (bamboo raft) ride down the river or a tour of a school to see how the local Rotary Club is participates in the educational system.

Namale Resort
Namale Resort, located 10 km from Savusavu on Vanua Levu (Fiji’s second largest island) has been a coconut plantation since the 1860s. Tradition has it that the land (which is now a 325 acre estate) was originally purchased from the Fijian Chief Tui Na Savusavu for 10 guns. The property accommodates a maximum of around 30 guests at a time in 14 large bures and two large villas—the Bula House and the Tatadra House. Many of the bures are built adjacent to huge volcanic outcroppings and sculpted to fit into the landscape. Honeymoon Bures offer incredible ocean views over the Koro Sea and include Jacuzzi bathtubs and an oceanview from your oversized bed or sofa. The owner of the resort is Tony Robbins, a well known American motivational speaker and writer famous for his “infomercials”.

There is a sandy beach (which I understand Mr. Robbins had constructed) with a nearby “swimming hole”, the size of an Olympic sized swimming pool, surround by reef pool. The beach is quite isolated and bounded by Mr. Robbins’ private home and a cove that leads to Namale’s private marina. There are ample deck chairs and hammocks strung between trees. Situated a few meters from the shore, the property is large enough to provide numerous hiking trails that visit a waterfall and traverse a rainforest. Other amenities and activities include private dining on one of eight decks overlooking the ocean, two jacuzzis and two pools, horseback riding, tennis, sailing, windsurfing, diving and visits to the local Fijian village. The cuisine is reportedly excellent with a great wine collection to augment the fresh seafood and other dishes. Read more in our blog

There’s a 10,000 square foot spa on a cliff with a fantastic view overlooking the Koro Sea (see photo on right courtesy of Marc Carignan). There are a series of pools of various temperatures and a cold plunge. The spa pools are all available to guests and if you want special treatments such as hdyrotherapy or massage, they are available from the specially trained staff. Let’s not forget the “Wellness Center” which consistes of a very well equipped gym, with free weights, exercise ball, rebounds, and multiple exercise machines. The other part is a state-of-the-art colon hydrotherapy center with five private “Libbe” beds, the latest in colonics.

There’s also a handy recreation room called “Kava Bowl” with comfortable sofas, fluffy pillows and a two lane bowling alley. If you want to catch up on your email, it has two computers with high speed Internet access and a dedicated Macintosh with 12,000 songs and a terrific sound system. There’s also a conference center on the grounds that can accommodate 60 people in a theater style setting. Executive Coach Marc Carignan, a guest from San Diego, likened Namale to the Four Seasons hotels as a benchmark. It was the “best of the best” in his experience. He liked his accommodations, a garden bure which had two private bedrooms with private hall, polished hardwood floors and airy ceilings. He said it had a “minimalist but tropical and stylish Fijian motif.” The only downside in his estimation was lack of aircon in his room.

If you do plan to stay at the property avoid staying there when the owner has one of his conferences. Visitors who are not part of the Robbins set may feel left out. That said, the resort has received a host of accolades over the years and in August 2004 was featured on the cover of Architectural Digest. Rates (which include all meals, accommodations, transfers and beverages) start at about US$850 double occupancy for the “Tropical Bure” and go up to $US2100 for the “Tatadra House ”.

Lomalagi
Lomalagi is a small (six-unit) property with perhaps the most spectacular natural setting of any resort in Fiji. Located on a bluff, the Lomalagi (pronounced lom-ah-lahngi) means “heaven” in Fijian. The translation is apt. The resort overlooks Natewa Bay, the largest in the South Pacific. Each of the six, forest green, bungalows has a commanding view of the bay which has a cloud-shrouded mountain range as a backdrop. Below is a shoreline great for beachcoming and snorkeling from shore. They will provide beach booties, which come in handy for strolls among the mangroves. There is however, no sand beach. What they do have is a large, salt water, swimming pool with a rock sculpture as a centerpiece. The large (900 square foot) bungalows each have a 300 square foot deck, polished pine wood floors, queen-sized bed and a modern, very large bathroom (including bath and huge open shower). Each of the units has a fully equipped kitchen witha full range of appliances including microwave, coffee maker, toaster-oven and a two-burner gas range.

For those who want to get away from it all, while basking in natural beauty, Lomalagi is the ticket. Each bungalow is tucked into a lush, very private hillside nook studded with coconut palms. A bell is placed a stone’s throw from each bungalow entrance so that visitors can announce their presence in an unobtrusive manner.

Food was good and your hostess, Ms. Collin McKenny (who hails from Seattle) provides a home-style experience-both in terms of cuisine and atmosphere - rather than that of a toney resort. Breakfast typically entails a choice of omelets, potato pancakes, home made sausage, cereal, French toast, ham & eggs and fresh fruit. Locally grown vegetables and fruit are readily available and frequently used. The eggs come from a farm only a few miles away and were incredible. Locally made curries are excellent. Activities include kayaking, mountain biking, snorkeling, (barebacked) horseback riding, spear and hand line fishing. Bay and diving are available from the resort. Deep sea fishing trips can be arranged out of Savusavu which is a half hour drive from the resort. Village visits and local tours can also be arranged. The late George Harrison rented the property several years ago but it has yet to be discovered.

She offers three options for visitors:

OPTION #1: The Royal Treatment
7 nights US$2,700/couple 

You'll receive a welcome fruit plate and fresh baked cookies on arrival plus a foot massage for each of you. During your stay, you'll each receive a 30 minute massage. Maid service is daily and personal laundry service is complimentary. Your 3 full meals per day are prepared by the chef to YOUR food preferences. 
OPTION #2: You want some pampering!
7 nights US$1,950/couple 
You prepare your own breakfast and lunch and your chef prepares 4-course gourmet dinners each night, planned to your food preferences. Kayaks and snorkeling gear are free for you to use. 
Option #3 Fully self-catered

7 Nights US$1,350/couple

You prepare all of your own meals and we provide maid service every other day. We provide coffee/tea + salt & pepper, award-winning Mokosoi soap products, shampoo, dishwashing supplies and toilet tissue. There's a nominal charge for use of the kayaks and snorkeling gear.
 
LAST MINUTE DEAL: Book, pay and arrive within 60 days, and her "last minute" special is US$2,400/couple for 7 nights, including 3 full meals/day. 

For reservations or information contact Lomalagi at lomalagi@connect.com.fj or go to www.lomalagi.com. Read more on our blog: Day 9 and Day 10

Recommended Accommodations Near Labasa


Nukubati Island Resort
If you really, I mean really want to get off the beaten track, Nukubati (pronounced nook-ooM-bah-tee) may be your cup of tea. To get there, you’ll need to take an hour long flight to the largest, most remote “metropolitan” area in Fiji—the dusty sugarcane town of Labasa. From there it’s about an hour and a half by automobile down a dirt road through villages, cane fields, farm houses and even stands of pine until you reach a jetty, a long wooden structure extending out from the surrounding mangroves. (For a great introduction to Nukubati check out Scott Putnam's video Nukubati Island Resort.


Nukubati is just a few hundred meters off-shore from Vanua Levu. Aside from a hill, with a commanding view of the spectacular landscape, Nukubati is flat sand. The owners and workers have transformed the once sandy scrubland into a beautiful botanical garden.

Once ensconced on Nukubati you have no other option than to relax and of course, eat.

The breakfast selection includes traditional western fare, as well as fish. Lunch includes soup or salad, an entrée and dessert, and dinner includes an appetizer, a salad, an entrée and dessert. Local fresh fish from mahi mahi, to tuna, to ono to wahoo is, depending upon the day’s catch, always available, as is crab and lobster. The property also has a good vegetarian selection, picking organic vegetables and fruit straight from the island’s garden. While there is great formality by the waitresses in announcing the food as it is served, one can informally mix, add or delete choices from the menu.

If you decide to put down that novel for a while there are enough activities to make things interesting.

With the ocean at your feet, swimming or snorkeling is obligatory. You can walk, sail, visit a local village (off island), play tennis, volleyball, lounge on a sand bar in the middle of the ocean, and take photos.

For those wanting planned activities, and an itinerary that involves a non-stop “Go, Go, Go!” Nukubati is probably not for you, although at the end of such a hectic vacation you may wish you had gone to Nukubati instead. The resort makes no apologies; they declare on their website they are a “low to no-activity destination” where “simply lying under a coconut tree with a book” is activity and pleasure enough. Having tested their excellent hammocks (which, by the way are the easiest hammocks to get out of I’ve ever tried), I can assure you that such a statement is true.


The beach in front of each bure is “swimmable” at all times of day and night as there is no fringing reef, unlike many other properties in Fiji. However, on incoming tides, it is not safe to wade due to stingrays feeding in the sand. While I think this is a neat National Geographic fact, I was never sure what was an incoming or outgoing tide, so I never swam in front of my bure. However, there is a small coral reef right next to the landing where it is safe to wade at all times of day, but the corals and fish at this location are somewhat muted and the water is murky. If you want to snorkel and experience the splendor of Fiji’s reefs, it is best to take a boat (for hire) further out towards thee reef.

In summary There is no “type” person that stays here. You can be single, involved, married, getting married, on honeymoon, divorced, or getting divorced – all are welcome. The only restriction is age, but even this is relaxed during select times of year when children under 12 are allowed. This is a great resort for unwinding. For those that need a break, a true vacation, this is the place to come. You will not need a vacation from your vacation after visiting Nukubati. Rest, relaxation, and enjoying Nukubati’s view are what this resort is all about.

Rate includes all food, drinks (this is unusual in Fiji), maid, and laundry service. Rate does not include motorized activities (snorkeling away from reef and scuba diving). There are also special packages advertised on Nukubati’s website which can substantially decrease an a la carte price. Travel agents charge the same price as advertised on Nukubati’s website. If you’re desperate to go and still don’t have enough funds to purchase a trip, Nukubati, on occasion, offers vacation packages on websites where the price paid is driven by the highest bid.
Rates (USD) per day: :
Smaller Bure: $710 (for two), $605 (for one), $295 for additional person
Larger Bure: $860 (for two), $755 (for one), $295 for additional person
(For more background information on the property you can read Scott Putnam's daily chronicle of his visit to the island in: On to Nukubati, Nukubati Day 1, Nukubati Day 2, Sunset at Nukubati and Nukubati Meditations).

Dive Notes: Speaking of thee reef, Nukubati’s great attraction is its accessibility to The Great Sea Reef. Known as the “Large Wall” in Fijian (“Cakaulevu”), the Great Sea Reef is the third largest barrier reef in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Belize’s Barrier Reef. Nukubati is the only resort with access to this reef. If you want to dive, snorkel, surf, or fish the Great Sea Reef, you must stay at Nukubati. For those seeking a unique, exclusive experience, large portions of this reef remain unexplored. If you’re the adventurous type, you can request a dive on an unexplored section and if the site is worthy, you can name it.


Diving with Nukubati's crew is great. Every couple or single diver gets their own dive boat and master. If you do not have dive equipment, Nukubati’s dive equipment is excellent and new. The resort does not believe in anchoring at a dive site, forcing a diver to swim back to a boat. Instead, the boat follows each diver’s bubbles and is there to immediately pick up a diver upon surfacing. After sitting down from a great dive, the crew hands a diver a sandalwood or plumeria infused wash cloth to wipe away the salt, a towel, and refreshments. For those looking for the diving extras, Nitrox is not an available option nor are diving courses. If you are not a certified diver and you want to dive, you must get certified before coming to Nukubati.


To see the wonders of the virgin dive area be sure and catch Scott Putnam's terrific video--Fish Market at Great Sea Reef, Beautiful Morning. Great Dives, and Boston Market: First Day of Diving.
Contact them at: +679 6030919, info@nukubati.com or Skype: nukubati.island

Palmlea Farms Lodge & Bures

Sometimes it’s the “newbie” hoteliers who bring the most creativity to Fiji’s tourism plant. From what I’ve heard, this is the case with Palmlea Farms Lodge & Bures, located 18 minutes from Labasa Airport on the northern coast of Vanua Levu.

What’s different about Palmlea?

First off, it’s is a working farm or in the words of the owners, Joe and Juli Smelser, an “eco agri-tourism resort that offers environmental and organic themes.” It’s also very much off the beaten path. The Labasa area is one of the least developed tourist regions in Fiji and hence, one of the lesser visited.

Overlooking the Great Sea Reef (the third longest continuous barrier reef system in the world) it caters to a maximum of 12 guests. There are great seascapes but no swimming beach. It has one and two bedroom bures 

furnished with queen or king-size beds and private bath. In addition to the emphasis on sustainable living, they offer an unusual international cuisine 

that capitalizes on the fresh produce grown on the farm such as herbs and fresh vegetables and local produce such as pineapples, melons, cassava, taro and papaya. Meals are prepared in a variety of tastes: European, 

Fijian, Indian and vegetarian. The menu includes Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian dishes. All bread and desserts are baked fresh daily. Being close to the shore they always have fresh seafood.


Typical menu items sound pretty good to me and include torta al testa, flat crusty Italian tile bread with melted cheese; bruschetta Italiano crusty, Italian bread slices rubbed with garlic, tomatoes, black olives, cracked pepper and fresh chopped farm grown basil; reef lobster seafood roll-ups, lobster and coral trout wrapped in pastry; fresh herbs, vegetables in a 

spicy lolo cream sauce and osso bucco, succulent lamb pieces prepared in a age old Italian tomato base sauce. Other than eating, there’s diving, hiking, snorkeling, fishing, sightseeing and interestingly enough, surfing.

Surfing, report the owners, is in its infancy and is great. A regular group of Americans comes every year outside of the Great Sea Reef. There's literally no one else to share the waves. They have their own 20 islander which they leave at the Palmlea Jetty. They have ordered a new 23' islander w/50hp and kicker to take surfers out. For more info contact Smelser Palmlea Farms Lodge & Bures Tele +679 828 2220 Fax +679 828 3220 www.palmleafarms.com email palmleafarms@yahoo.com.

For more information read our series of reviews including Palmlea Review One and  Review Two.  You also may enjoy reading about the Smelser's venture into breeding Boer Goats.

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