Matava overlooks the world famous Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef. The site for property was chosen because of a nearby source of spring water.
Just offshore from the beach front is a small island which includes a marine reserve with excellent snorkeling. (There is no proper beach on the property. You can however kayak over to the tiny island, which has three white sand beaches).
Surrounded by rain forest, the resort’s accommodation are ten traditional thatched Fijian bures (bungalows) with en-suite bathrooms and private sun decks. The bures afford great vistas of the coral lagoons and barrier reef.
The resort has two types of accommodation, split evenly between Honeymoon and Oceanview. The Honeymoon units are finished with polished mahogany timber floors, mahogany furnishings, king size beds and private sun decks. The Oceanview bures also feature polished timber floors and similar amenities, but have queen size beds instead. The property has been around for over 20 years but is well maintained.
The is a large comfortable guest area with fully stocked bar, dining terrace and front deck overlooking the lagoon. Also on hand is a small library and guest charging area for laptops, cameras, tablets. (For a fee, Wi-Fi is available in the main bure).
Adjacent to the main bure is a spring fed swimming pool, fringed with lava rocks, which is great for a dip after a day of diving.
Matava prides itself on it’s food. Typical breakfasts include fresh eggs, homemade bread and scones and fresh fruit which guests can pick from the garden. Lunch is typically a chicken or fish salad, pasta or a veggie burger. Dinners are always three course and begin with an appetizer such as a spring roll and a salad. The main course can be fish, roast lamb or perhaps sashimi. Desert might be a fruit salad a meringue or home made cheese cake.
There is also a “traditional” Fijian night where food is cooked in an underground oven called a lovo. Guests are involved in its preparation which entails weaving chickens and fish into palm fronds, etc), cooking and removal of the food from the oven. Lovo night also includes a kava ceremony and singing from staff and a village band.
Matava is an ‘eco-resort’, with a low carbon footprint. It obtains its water from a nearby spring, power from a photo voltaic system and hot water from a solar energy. There is also backup generator.
An extensive organic farm supplies the restaurant daily with fresh fruit and vegetables and even honey from the garden apiary. The property has a chicken coop so fresh eggs are always available. Fish are harvest from the sea.
Mark O’Brien, the manager (and owner) said that depending on the season he’s often able to source nearly 100% of the produce grown in the garden for the guests. I can attest to the tasty salads made with home grown lettuce and cabbage.
O’Brien said that Matava recycles (or re-purposes) nearly all its waste. For example they will only serve beer in aluminum cans to avoid having to send countless glass bottles back to Suva. Wine bottles are always given to villagers who use them as vessels for coconut oil or water.
Plastic, depending on the variety, is either melted down and used to make household items or sent back to Suva. Food waste is either fed to the chickens or turned into compost. The property will soon be obtaining an Israeli-made machine that will mulch food waste and turn it into bio gas for use as a fuel for the stove.
The resort promotes engagement with local communities and guests can experience waterfall walks, guided treks, kayak trips, village visits and local cultural events.
Management feels strongly about contributing to the local community and encourages guests to to the same. For example, a recent group of visiting dentists took time to spend their afternoons providing dental care to villagers.
Diving: The Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef is renown for its numerous hard corals. Matava has an on-site PADI 5 Star Mad Fish dive center with two large custom-made dive boats. Sites include the world-famous Manta Reef, Naiqoro and Korolevu passages, and Eagle Rock. Expect to see numerous large manta rays, sharks, and hard and soft corals.
Other activities include fishing, bird watching, surfing, sea kayaking and village visits.
Prices for 3 nights begin at F$1065 per person based on double occupancy. This includes all meals. Matava also has backpacker packages for F$150 per day plus another F$50 for three meals.
I’ve had wonderful reports from readers about Tiliva Resort, a family run operation situated on the north east portion of Kadavu, a A 15 minute boat ride from the wharf if traveling by ferry and a 45 minute boat ride from the airstrip. Located on a white sand beach, Tiliva has six bures and a main bure where meals are held. With high ceilings, the bures are airy and cozy, with queen beds, spacious showers and breezy covered porches offering comfortable chairs.
They have tiled bathrooms with modern fixtures and hot water. There is no air con just ceiling fans. The decor is a clean simplistic look which entails a mix of earthy tones with colorful art pieces that depict the beauty of Fiji through flora and Fauna.
Cuisine was reportedly above par and plentiful with food that ranged from very good to outstanding. There were creative combinations of local and Western fare; the fish dishes (including kokoda, a ceviche-like marinated dish made from lime and coconut milk).
One visitor told me “you could become an addict of their coconut sauces” known locally as lolo. In addition to fish, steak, chicken, and pork chops were also served. In addition to the expected activities—diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, trekking, village visit and bird watching there’s some unusual attractions. These include demonstrations of mat making, how to make coconut oil and, a guided tour with local vuniwai (traditional healer) who utilizes local plants.
There are a host of activities available including diving, snorkeling, kayaking, outrigger canoe tours, waterfall visits, hikes, deep sea fishing, village visits and volunteering opportunities.
Prices are F$280 per night double occupancy for an Oceanview Bure and F$350.00 per night double occupancy for an Oceanside bure. Both styles of bures will accommodate up to 4 guests. Wi-Fi is available.
Situated on 200 acres of lush rain forest, Papageno Eco-Resort is fringed by the sea. There are four varieties of ocean-side bures ranging from units that have a queen and king sized bed to the Royal Ocean Bure, which has four bedrooms, full kitchen, living room and outdoor decks. There are also two bures that are surrounded by gardens with a queen sized and a single bed.
Papageno is committed committed to preserving the natural environment and giving back to the host culture. Guiding principles include:
- Reducing our carbon footrprint and dependence on non-renewable energy via a combination of solar, micro-hydro and a backup diesel generator.
- Treating wastewater through a series of septic tanks and composting organic waste.
- Producing organically grown vegetables and fruits on the premises.
- Investing resources into nature conservation and community development projects to keep the land pristine and to aid nearby villages and schools.
Diving is a big attraction. There are over a dozen dive sites within 10-minute boat ride from the resort. Papageno’s home reef is also a Marine Protected Area is called Rooper Reef. Within it are dive spots including Chambers, Crossroads, Group Tube and the The Pacific Voyager, the only wreck dive on Kadavu which is 30 meters below the ocean’s surface.
Other activities include kayaking, waterfall hikes, snorkeling off the beach, and village visits. Yoga retreats are also held on the property from time to time.
Papageno Eco Resort serves local Fijian dishes with what it calls “a fusion of European cuisine”.
Breakfast includes baked goods, cereal, eggs, homemade jams and organically grown fresh fruit. Lunches include fresh vegetables from the garden, quiche, pasta, pizza, fish cake and frittatas. Three course dinners start with soup, and a main course which can be fresh fish, chicken, beef, two side dishes and home made dessert.
Prices start are FJ$529.00 per night double occupancy. Prices include all meals, Fiji taxes and round trip airport boat transfers from and to Kadvau Island’s Vunisea Airport (for stays of 3 nights or longer). Limited Wi-Fi is available at an additional charge.
If Trip Advisor is any indicator, the resort gets a unanimous thumbs-up. It’s one of the few properties in Fiji I’m aware of that get 5 stars, 97% of respondents give it a combined excellent or very good rating.
Oneta Eco Resort
Oneta is a small family run eco-resort located on Ono Island which is the largest, northern most island in the Yasawa Group
The 50 acre beachfront property has seven thatched-roof bures (aka bungalows) all named after local dive sites. All are configured slightly differently but all have king-sized beds, en suite bathrooms, and a bamboo enclosed outdoor shower. The resort is almost entirely solar powered and their water is sourced from a spring on the hillside above the property.
The Turtle Lair Bure is perched on a ridge, has a private deck with a wonderful view and is the largest unit on the property. It has a large Indonesian style bed with an en-suite bathroom and an outdoor shower enclosed by bamboo.
The beach front bures (Vesi and Shark Alley) each have private decks that look towards the beach, an en-suite bathroom and a bamboo-enclosed outdoor showers.
There are two Garden Bures (Purple Wall and Split Rock), surrounded by vegetation, are a little further back from the beach. They have king-sized beds, en-suite bathrooms and outdoor bamboo-enclosed showers.
The Archway Group Bure serves as a sort of high end dorm with six single beds separated by hanging bamboo mats (to offer a modicum of privacy). It has a large en-suite bathroom and two outdoor bamboo enclosed showers with lots of hot and cold water.
The hub of the resort is the main lodge. It has a bar, games, books, and free WI-FI. This is where meals are served, kava is consumed, and impromptu music is played. Movies are often screened here as well.
The main activities, as one might expect, are ocean-centric. Fishing, and diving in the Astrolabe Reef are phenomenal. Oneta has its own in-house dive operation new top-of-the-line dive gear and our newly outfitted dive boat. They cater to divers of all experience levels. You must be certified to participate.
Their main fishing boat is the Loloa, a 28 foot fully outfitted center console sports fisher with a forward casting platform suitable for 4 to 5 anglers.
Oneta also has kayaks, paddle boards and a Hobie Cat for day trips.
For a more sustained (all-day or overnight) outrigger canoe trips can be arranged Paddlefiji. There’s also hikes on the uninhabited island of Vatulutu or a trek to the waterfall.
Prices start at F$300.00 per person for the Archway Bures and top out at F$800 per day (double occupancy) for the Turtle Lair Bure. Rates include all meals and all on-site resort activities including complimentary use of snorkel gear.
Dua Na Cegu Freedive Fish Fiji
Dua Na Cegu (pronounced end-dua na thengu) is a ½ acre beachfront retreat located in Waisalima Bay on the North-Eastern side of Kadavu Island. It’s an isolated area with only four Fijian families living in the neighborhood and it’s possible to walk the entire beach of the bay without running to a single person. The property is dedicated solely to sportfishing and freediving (spearfishing).
Dua Na Cegu, which translates as “One Breath”, referring to the single breath freedivers perform on. (It also can mean “take a break” or “take a breath”). This is a brand new property with two bures that will accommodate take accommodate up to five people.
They have a small garden on-site and are currently growing a variety of vegetables and fruit to subsidize all food consumed at the resort, with the hope that eventually they won’t have to buy vegetables and fruit from outside suppliers all together. Guests are encouraged to walk through the garden and pick and eat fruit and veggies right out of the garden.
Sustainability equals Survivability
The garden is only one component of sustainability, which is more than a buzzword. To survive on a remote island, it’s a way of life.
Using local materials, such as Fiji-grown pine, mahogany and native hardwoods such as dilo and vau, the property was designed a sturdy bure levu (big house)–a kitchen, dining room and library along with two bungalows.
Everything was built to withstand cyclones which pummel the Fiji archipelago sporadically.
Given that the property is off the grid, a photovoltaic system with batteries (along with a backup generator) were installed. Complementing this was a redundant water system fed by a nearby spring and water catchment.
Weather permitting, Kainoa, a veteran fisherman, harvests opakapaka, onaga, snapper and other species which provides fodder for half of the meals.
On Kadavu, Kainoa says one is ‘forced to be sustainable’ which means being a jack of all trades–electrician, plumber, builder, and backyard mechanic—just to name a few.
Typical meals could include hamburger, macaroni, chicken, taro, roro (taro leaves), cassava, potatoes, salad and pork. On one occasion we had dhal soup which was excellent. Breakfast always had fresh fruit from the garden including papaya and bananas with tea or instant coffee. Banana bread was served with just about every meal. I would describe it as ‘family style’. When I visited, the weather was not conducive to fishing so I only had fish once.
Guests will have access to fishing grounds extending from the Northern tip of the Astrolabe reef to beyond the Southern tip of Kadavu and include excellent locations for every type of fishing – trolling, jigging, casting, even bottom-fishing for species such as deepwater snapper.
The big draws for most fishermen and divers are the Dogtooth Tuna, Wahoo, and various Swordfish and Marlin.
Kainoa says, one of his specialties is deep water jigging for Dogtooth tuna and popping and plugging for trevally. You can also chase small game in the mangroves such as mangrove jack or snapper.
Spearfishermen have miles of reef and coral outcrops to explore, not to mention endless blue water on all sides. Free diving and spear fishing for typical game includes larger pelagics such as Dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerel and wahoo.
The crew is made up of local fishermen and divers who have an immeasurable amount of knowledge of and experience in and on the waters surrounding Kadavu. The boat, Wailana, is a 30 foot Islander Fiberglass custom custom built in Fiji.
The resort is owned and operated by Kainoa Cundell, a veteran waterman from Hawaii who has worked in Fiji on and off since 1993. He’s an engaging guy who will do his best to help a visitor find fish. A dive and surfing instructor, he obtained his captain’s license in 2003 and has worked as a skipper on commercial fishing boats, sports fishing boats, ferries and charter boats.
Price is US$300 per person per night (maximum four guests) for a minimum stay of 5 days. Price includes transport to/from local airport or ferry/wharf, accommodations, meals and snacks on-site (family style dining, non-alcoholic drinks included), boat fees and fuel costs, and all resort fees. (BYOB if you want alcohol. There’s nothing available on Kadavu).
If you’re a ‘fisherperson’, this is the ticket.