While in Taveuni over Christmas I had the opportunity to visit Nakia Resort & Dive, one of Taveuni's newest properties. This eco-themed resort is a vision of a former Santa Cruz, California fireman turned attorney, Jim Kelly, wife Robin and daughter Julie.
Founded in 2008, it's located about a 15 minutes drive from the airstrip and perched on a rise with a striking view of the Somosomo Straights. It's borded by the sea and surrounded by rainforest and banana plantations.
Many Fiji properties call themselves “eco-friendly” but Nakia can credibly claim to be one of very few powered entirely by alternative energy (wind, solar and hydro electric). Striving to keep their footprint small, they use local building materials; have minimized tree removal during construction; and, burn, recycle or bury refuse, depending on composition.
To further bolster their eco-cred, the resort also produces its own organically gown produce and herbs including lettuce, cabbage, taro, green onions, tomatos, basil, thyme, oregano, pumpkin, eggplant, corn,
watermelon, bananas and many others. Compost used from the restaurant and other sources is used to constantly amend the rich, dark volcanic soil.
Although the property would be of interest to anyone with an interest in getting off the beaten track, Robin Kelly told me that most visitors are divers. Julie Kelly, Robin’s daughter and her partner Aaron Mell, offer a comprehensive, well-equipped scuba operation called Taveuni Ocean Sports that serves first–time divers as well as
those seeking Advanced Open Water PADI certification. Using Nakia's 12–meter (40–foot) fresh-water pool and the many open water sites along the reefs of the Somosomo Strait, they offer a plethora classes from a basic resort course to rescue diving. Every program includes detailed safety, site and marine biology briefings.
Their dive boat, The Upwelling, is a 10–meter (34–foot) custom aluminum catamaran. Outfitted with GPS, sonar, VHF radio, emergency oxygen, an extensive marine first aid kit, and lifejackets, it can support up to 12 divers. Julie told me they carry no more than 8 divers with two instructors, matched to divers' experience levels and dive site preferences.
Other water services include beginning snorkeling and even surf instruction. Julie Kelly who has a passion for surfing, will steer novices to a nearby reef break that offers waves gentle enough for novices. This is very unusual in Fiji where powerful reef breaks are the rule and are only recommended for advanced surfers. Taveuni has a variety of day trips beyond the resort and Nakia will set up trips for you such as bird watching or visits to local nature preserves and parks.
This is an intimate resort that can accommodate no more than 12-14 visitors max. It's constructed with shiny bamboo exteriors that glint in the sunlight.
The three standard bures – Garden, Sunset and Forest are suitable for a couple and child. This includes queen bed, and room for a child's cot. The Somosomo Bure, a duplex, has two bedrooms and two baths with an outdoor rock shower, sleeping six to eight people in two king size beds, a queen, and a double bed. Each unit has a veranda and hammock, elevated ceilings with fans, tile floors, locally–made furnishings, premium mattresses, side tables and chairs, ample closet space, a refrigerator, locally-made ibe, (mats), fabrics and wood carvings, and fresh flowers. Prices start at US$200 night for the smaller bures. Meal plan is $45.
The kitchen at their Cliffhouse Restaurant, which Robin says is one of the largest commercial cuisines in Taveuni, is a model of cleanliness. Signature dishes include steaks, curries and chicken salad at lunch. Nakia has an uses their fruits and vegetables from their extensive organic garden whenever possible.
Thankfully, for those tethered to the Internet, there’s plenty of speedy bandwidth. You can find them at www.nakiafiji.com.
Top seascape shows view from the property--other photos depict organic garden, pool and bure. All taken by Rob Kay.