A family surf resort sounds like a contradiction in terms. When you think surfing you think young chiseled guys with short boards and an overabundance of hormones.
That's not Matanivusi. Welcome to the Fiji's only family surf resort.
Although wave riders are their main constituency, Matanivusi goes out of their way to make non surfers comfortable and welcomed.
Owned and operated by 50 somethings Brian and Donna McDonald, the property is located about an hour and a half drive west of Suva (85 km) on the Coral Coast. Enveloped by rich foliage it’s only a few meters from the beach and about 2 km from several reef breaks that will keep experienced surfers quite content.
In addition to surfing, there are a variety of activities and excursions such as hikes to a nearby waterfall or even visits to the nearby capital of Suva. At the nearby village you
can visit a kindergarten or do a “plantation walk” where locals will explain the use of medicinal plants and show how local crops are grown.
When is the best time visit?
Of course surfing is the big attraction. Local reef breaks such as Shifties (right hander), J’s (right hander); Pipe (left hander) are accessible year round.
Brian says between June-Sept winter swells originating from the Antarctic will generate waves from 6-15’. He can also take you out to world famous Frigates which is about 20 kilometers away.
Dining is family style on a long table and the food was both healthy and tasty. It's served any style you like, A typical lunch was savory beef or vegetarian samosas served with yogurt or and tamarind chutney. Whenever possible food from the property such as avocados breadfruit, taro, bananas, papaya are used, and there’s always locally caught fresh fish.
Breakfast fare includes locally grown papayas and bananas along with eggs cooked any style. The McDonald’s offer either a beef, chicken or fish entrée (along with a vegetarian dish) every night of the week. While I was there we had grilled mahimahi (marinated in a ginger, garlic, and lime concoction) with local sweet potatoes (kumala) on the side.
There are eight spacious units, all with louvered windows on three sides and an overhead fan to keep things cool. The floors are shiny, dark mahagony and the units have a king sized bed with a canopy of mosquito netting. Families can request an extra bed for children. The bathroom is large as is the shower, where you bath in pure rainwater. The rooms afford plenty of space to practice yoga and stash your belongings.
The term eco-resort is not an exaggeration. Matanivusi is constructed from locally grown mahogany “plantation” timbers and there’s a wooden walkway built a few feet above the ground to enable visitors to traverse the path from their bungalow to the dining room and bar area without disturbing the fauna. Rainwater (of which there can be an abundance) in this verdant section of Viti Levu) is used for drinking water as well as the swimming pool and spa. The resort also has an innovative waste management system from an Australian company called Biolytix, which filters water and engages the services of a worm that consumes the solids.
A sign in every bathroom reminds readers to “feed the worms”. The resulting waste water is filtered and used to irrigate the garden through a drip system. Compost goes to the pigs and anything that can’t be recycled locally is brought to Suva.
Price is F$500 for surfers which includes accommodations, meals, and of course surfing. For non surfers it’s F$450 per day which includes activities such as snorkeling, kayaking stand up paddle boarding, diving and fishing. The resort will also organize weddings and fishing charters. Children under two are free and there’s a sliding scale for kids under 12. Those above 12 are considered adults.
Top three photos by Rob Kay. Bottom shot courtesy of Matanivusi.