Sun Coast Accommodations
Sun Coast accommodations are scattered across the western part of Viti Levu, stretching from Vuda Point all the way up to Ra Peninsula. The Kings Road, which was just completed recently, has opened an area that was largely off the beaten track. It’s still an area largely unexplored by mass tourism.
Volivoli Beach Resort
Volivoli Beach Resort is a 4-star boutique property, on the northernmost tip of Viti Levu, in the heart of sugar cane country. It sits on the edge of a promontory (see photo below) jutting out to the sea, 2 1/2-hours from Nadi International Airport. It’s a family owned, and operated resort surrounded by a rich forest and ocean ecosystem.
As the name indicates, the property is located on a beach. It has 32 rooms with four types of accommodation: 4 (new) two-bedroom, luxury family villas; 11 renovated ocean view bures; 9 deluxe ocean view rooms; and 8 ocean view rooms. All rooms are finished in sustainable hardwoods and offer 180-degree seascapes which include nearby Malake and Nananu-i-Ra islands.
Diving is a huge attraction in this part of Viti Levu, which tends to be less frequented by visitors. Ra Divers is the in-house operation and they offer a variety of dive packages for beginners through advanced. The nearby Vatu-i-Ra Passage has a mixture of walls, bommies and drift dives. Some of the better-known ones are Black Magic Mountain, Mellow Yellow, Instant Replay and ‘Breathtaker’ — a deep reef dive where you’ll see pelagics and oodles of white tip, black tip, whaler and grey reef sharks.
Other activities offered include deep-sea fishing, dolphin safari, kitesurfing, village visits, and cultural tours. Kayaking, Stand up paddleboards, snorkeling beach volleyball are complementary. A day spa is also available.
The family-owned factor makes a big difference. The family philosophy according to the GM, Nick Darling “is to spend time talking to our guests, whether on a dive trip or over a cold beer,” which he says “helps us fine tune the Volivoli experience.”
Trip Advisor rates it at 4.5 out of 5 stars, 89% of reviews have been excellent or very good. Room rates start at US$196 for 1-4 people per night but range up to US$502 per night .
Location Volivoli Beach Resort
Wananavu Beach Resort
Wananavu is a four star property, perched on the northern most tip of Viti Levu, a 2 1/2 hour drive from Nadi International Airport. It’s just a few clicks down the road from Volivoli Beach Resort. Like its neighbor, Wananavu has a commanding vew of the sea and Nananu-i-Ra.
There are 34 deluxe bures of various ilk, spread out over large expanse of land planted with coconut palms, hibiscus and other vegetation. There are four options: garden views, hilltop ocean views or beach front bures and villas. All offer have thatched roofs, natural wood or tile floors and handmade beds. According to Wananavu, “No two bures are exactly alike.”
You can bring the whole clan here. The Family and Vanua Villas, which didn’t exist the last time I was there, can house up to 6 or 10 guests.
All the units offer lacquered natural pine interiors and “Vesi” hardwood floors.
Several hundred feet below the accommodations is a swimming beach. There are benches, shade trees and a fine view of the island offshore. There is some snorkeling directly offshore but the owners said the fish and coral viewing is better on nearby Nananu-i-ra.
Activities & Day Trips
Day trips to the island are arranged on a regular basis. Food is good and specials such as fresh seafood or steak are available on a daily basis. The wine selection is quite good with a fine array of New Zealand and Australian wines. The dining and bar area overlooks the sea and there is a deck if you prefer to dine outdoors.
Free activities include fish feeding, snorkeling, swimming (pool or beach), cooking classes, volleyball, coconut tree climbing and tennis. There are a plethora of tours available to villages, a waterfall, and a hike up the nearby Nacagicagi mountain.
Room prices start at US$179 (double) for the Garden View Bure and range up to US$$714.00 Villa Vanua (based on 4 guests).
Naturally there is great diving in the nearby Bligh Waters. This area was made famous by one of Fiji’s premier liveaboards, the Nai’a, and used to be the exclusive playground of liveaboards. No more. There are sixteen local sites which are only twenty minutes out on the dive boat. Traveling to The Vatu-I-Ra Passage is a forty five 45 minute trip, weather permitting. Most dive depths are 60-80 ft (18-24 meters) and the Soft Coral is generally 40 ft (12 meters) and above. Dive Wananavu, the in-house dive operation has a 5-star PADI rating. Some of the more popular sites include Black Magic Mountain, E-6, Sunset Ridge and Hi-8 which feature pinnacles, reefs and bommies, with both macro as well as pelagic activity.
Location Wananavu Beach Resort
Located about 2 1/2 hours from Nadi Airport, the Rakiraki Hotel used to bill itself as the northernmost hotel on Viti Levu basking in the driest and ‘deliciously hottest’ climate on the island.
The deliciously hot climate part is still true. Back in the day, this property was the only show on the North Coast. What once were two clapboard roadside buildings, originally constructed as guesthouses during the WWII era, have been transformed into a spiffier more modern edifice.
I’ve stayed at the property during it’s earlier, colonial style incarnation, and loved it. I’m sure the new version will also serve the budget-minded visitor.
Amenities include a pool, nine-hole golf course (nearby), local entertainment, tennis court, lawn bowling, bar and restaurant. The Rakiraki Hotel also offers conference facilities for up to 40 people, along with equipment and catering for breakfast, morning and afternoon tea, and lunch.
You can eat at their restaurant or if you want to explore the culinary delights of Rakiraki, which is only a few minutes away by foot, you can eat on the cheap at a local curry house.
Prices range from US$66 – $97.
Location Rakiraki Hotel
Ever thought about renting your own tropical island?
Look no more. Dolphin Island is a charming little (14 acre) private island located just offshore from Viti Levu’s northern most tip–smack in between the much larger islands of Nanu-i-ra and Nanu-i-cake. (The hotel will arrange for a boat to pick you up at nearby Ellington Wharf). At the dock, the manager Dawn Simpson will await you with a beverage and possibly some kokoda (marinated fish). It’s that kind of place.
This is a boutique property (figure on spending around US$1300 per person per night) but doesn’t scream faux opulence in the manner of Trump Tower. It’s comfortable, with deep sofas and floors covered with ibe, locally made pandanus mats.
The property is part of the Huka Retreats’ chain, a New Zealand endeavor, owned by Alex van Heeren, who purchased the island in 1984.
The accommodation is comprised of four guestrooms in two large bures for a maximum of 8 guests. There’s also a “secret” (well not so secret bure) open to the elements for couples interested in a more sauvage setting. (The bures were revamped in 2011 by interior designer Virginia Fisher, who has worked at other Huka properties in New Zealand and South Africa).
Food is reportedly excellent, which is what one would expect, or at least hope for.
All the requisite activities–diving, fishing, hiking, kayaking, sightseeing, etc are available. If you’re not sure where to go, they have some excellent itineraries for you.
I can’t imagine a better place to chill than Dolphin Island.
Location Dolphin Island Fiji
Bularangi Luxury Villa
I’ve heard good things about Bularangi Luxury Villa, which is located just down the road from Wananavu. It’s a single unit, on the ocean with a pool and scenic views of Nanau-i-Ra and the Bigh Waters. The island is a 5-minute boat ride away.
It’s very highly rated by TripAdvisor and should work well for a family gathering.
Configured with three bedrooms/3 baths, it will sleep up to 6 people.
Amenities including Sky TV, large pool, fully equipped kitchen (with dishwasher), large fridge and freezer, laundry and BBQ. A large open plan kitchen, living and dining room measuring 13 meters long by 5 meters wide, opens to a front deck overlooking the ocean via two sets of double patio doors. There are 5 deck areas spread around the villa.
Maid service is provided 5 days a week.
The villa is self-contained so guests have the option to make their own meals or dine out at Wanavanu Beach Resort (walking distance away). Most guests will have a car so you can visit eateries in Rakiraki (15 minutes down the road) or Volivoli Beach Resort, a ten minute drive.
Activities such as beach going, diving, snorkeling, etc are available at the nearby properties.
Bularangi prices begin at US$250 for two.
Location Bularangi Luxury Villa
Nananu-i-Ra Island Accommodations
Nananu-i-ra is a hilly, 3.5-sq-km island surrounded by minuscule bays, white-sand beaches and mangroves. It’s been a popular budget get-away for many years. It’s a mere 3 km north of Ellington Wharf, so access is easy from Viti Levu.
The island had good snorkeling and the prevailing breezes make it great spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding. It can get very windy but the narrow strip of land separating the west (Front Beach) from the east (Back Beach) is only 200 meters wide so which ever way the wind blows, you simply walk to the calmer side for a respite. There are several self-contained properties on the island but over the years I’ve preferred Betham’s Beach Cottages (8 units) and Macdonald’s Nananu Beach Cottages (14 units). Prices begin in the range of US$60 for a private double room on the island. For those who want a private island experience on a budget, either of these places is a good bet.
Location Nananu-i-Ra Island