Fiji for the pleasure seekers
Coming close to perfection, a cruise through Fiji’s Yasawa Islands won Bev Malzard’s vote – and heart.
After a four-hour flight from Sydney to Fiji and arriving in Nadi I immediately switched to ‘Fiji time’.
I strolled out to grab a cab to take me to Denaru Island – the island where all the fabulous hotels hang out together.
After checking into the elegant Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, my companion and I scoped out the hotel to explore what we could do for the next two days – easy: eat, sleep, spa, pool. We tried fine dining, classic poolside snacks, brekkie on the Lagoon Terrace and a meal outside at Salt, where we sheltered under an umbrella while some welcome, cooling rain arrived the same time as dessert. Day two called for a day at the pool with intermittent trips for indulgent treatments at Mandara Spa – mmm, too good.
Next day we embarked on a four day cruise on MV Endeavour that would take us up through the northern group of Yasawa Islands on Fiji time. Early in the piece we got used to making quick, crucial decisions – what to do today? Stay onboard and gaze at the horizon or read, go ashore to swim, snorkel, and walk along pristine beaches and visit local villages – hardly worth deciding really.
Long, white, sandy beaches beckoned even the most tentative swimmer; the waters are safe and serene.
One night after dinner we all joined in for the Reef Endeavour Cup – we purchased tiny hermit crabs and put them to work for the big crab race. NO crabs were injured in this exercise. The following day the dozy crabs were released into their new home, the famous Blue Lagoon – it’s all about location.
Still on Sawa-L-Lau, a few of us were intrigued by a staircase built on the side of a cliff that started on the beach, stopping a few metres up the side. We climbed the stairs and paid a local man $10 and he opened a door behind some scrub in the side of the cliff. Curiouser and curiouser . . .
We scrambled down a few damp, muddy steps, and beneath us appeared a glorious iridescent pool cupped in the middle of a cavernous cave. The water was exquisite aqua – no blue could ever match this. We dived in and looked up to the eye in the sky. We were deep inside a magical cave swimming in cold, clear water. This has to be one of the great swims of my life.
With holiday joy providing a new colour to my aura, I realised that the ‘secret pool’ was just one of the parts that make up the rare and beautiful sum of what Fiji is.
The Bula that accompanies the obligatory lei on arrival at Nadi airport has nothing on the bellow of ‘buuuulaaaa’ that welcomes guests at the Outrigger on the Lagoon, an hour’s drive away on the Coral Coast.
Staff welcome arrivals, and a talai (personal butler) hands each guest a refreshing towel and cocktail, and waits while we soak up the view from the reception area – clear across the top of the resort to the ocean – before whisking guests and luggage away to settle in.
My talai offers to unpack and iron my clothes and promises to return each afternoon with champagne and canapes.
The next morning we’re off to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes with our guide, Kini Sarai, ex-Fiji rugby international who now works at the Outrigger and coaches the local rugby 7s team that the resort sponsors.
It’s a fair hike through the forest and over vegetated areas of the 650ha of dunes, but we are surrounded by beauty every step of the way. Back ‘home’ we jump aboard the resort’s buggy, and are whisked up to the Bebe Spa Sanctuary. At the top of the hill beside the resort, it’s a dream.
I am cocooned in a bathrobe and led to my private treatment room. An hour later, scrubbed, wrapped and soaked, I’m led to the shower on a balcony overlooking the ocean.
Another hour later, massaged, soaked and moisturised, I watch the sun drop into the ocean from the resort’s Kalokalo Bar where I sip champagne wishing my Fiji time will never end.
Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Denaru
Captain Cook Cruises runs 3, 4 & 7 night Yasawa island cruises every week.
This story first appeared in Get Up & Go and has been edited.