The ultimate relaxing weekend was in store for us as we arrived in Fiji. Landing at Nadi the main island is green and covered with palms, a striking mountainous ridge cutting across it. As we stepped off the plane we were greeted by welcoming song and beautifully warm weather.
Arriving in the middle of the afternoon we took an incredibly short transfer, literally across the road, to our interim accommodation at Tokatoka Resort. A good stop for the night, nice and close to the airport for connecting flights, we checked in to our villa room before heading to the pool to make the most of the afternoon sun and waterslide! Our evening began with brightly coloured cocktails serenaded by the Fijian band, and ended with delicious food and the local Fiji Bitter beer in the warm evening air. The following day the adventure would really begin!
Following breakfast, we caught our helicopter transfer to Malolo Island in the Mamanuca group. Flying with Pacific Island Air, we boarded our helicopter and took to the skies, a mind-blowing way to see some of the 300 plus islands that make up the Fijian archipelago. The scenery was stunning as we flew away from the main island of Viti Levu and out over the South Pacific. White sandy beaches, seemingly leaking, into the crystal-clear turquoise waters around reef and lagoons. Palm-lined islands dotted across the waters, some just big enough for a hut while others housed resorts and villages.
As we flew we passed honeymoon island and Mokuriku, where they filmed Castaway, before descending to Malolo Island and the stunning tranquil bay of Likuliku Lagoon Resort. Likuliku means ‘calm waters’, we could immediately see why it has a whole plethora of awards under its belt. Most recently number 2 in Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 10 Resorts in Australia & South Pacific 2017. We were in for a real treat here!
Stepping out of the chopper we were greeted with a friendly “Bula”, donned with a resort lei and cuddled by the resort dog, an adorable sunglass wearing Labrador called Coco… never has the phrase ‘it’s a dog’s life’ been so wrong! One seriously refreshing welcome drink later, we were in to our incredible home for the next two nights, the Beachfront Bure. The bure had all the Fijian charm you would expect with all the modern amenities of a 5* hotel, the outdoor shower was a particular highlight, as was the deck and day bed looking out across the grass to the beach, and lagoon beyond. The closest thing to paradise you could imagine!
After some 5* food, including the most delicious mango mille feuille, we decided to check out the renowned snorkelling in the area. In the centre of the bay a walkway leads you out to the Island Bar (Masima) and beyond this to the jetty. The end of the jetty marks the edge of a coral reef shelf stretching the length of the lagoon. Jumping in to the clear warm waters we immediately saw dozens of fish species all around us. Skirting along the reef we were surrounded by Parrot, Clown, and Angel fish darting in and out of the coral, as well as royal blue starfish and sea cucumbers. Just before we hopped out we swam into a huge shoal of Trevally, they weren’t bothered that we were close enough to touch them and it was an incredible experience to pretend to be part of the school.
The night was as beautiful as the day, a glorious sunset over the beach colouring the water with pinks and oranges. We took a tranquil walk along the beach from our bure to the island for the evening’s entertainment. Kitted out in grass skirts and woven headwear, the staff performed some traditional Fijian songs and dances, including a ferocious war dance, and a perhaps not so traditional conga line which we all joined in!
Following the frivolities, dinner was served at the restaurant which sits above the beach overlooking the entire bay, a beautifully idyllic setting for any meal. The chef had prepared a traditional Fijian Lovo, an underground BBQ that creates a lovely slow cooked, smoky flavour to the meats and vegetables. In addition to the huge variety of lovo buffet there was a gigantic snapper fish about a metre or so long and freshly caught. The fish in Fiji is just incredibly fresh and delicious, we gorged ourselves on all the treats on offer before returning to the Masima bar for a night cap.
Gazing up at the clear skies, and wonderfully bright milky way above us, we were fortunate enough to spot a shooting star streaking through the darkness. The cherry on the cake, we were feeling very lucky after an unbelievable first day on the island.
The days on Likuliku begin with a blissful breakfast in the sunshine, gazing out at the bay and wondering if life can get any better, the perfect kick start before our main adventure of the day. Meeting our guide at the end of the jetty we took to the water in a fast, furious, and quite bumpy boat trip, to snorkel the open water reef. We found it a little concerning that our guide had decided to wear two wetsuits, luckily when we hopped off the boat it wasn’t as chilly as expected.
Our guide was evidently half-man, half-fish, free diving and disappearing under coral arches 20 metres down before reappearing what seemed like minutes later! He led us around the beautiful reef of hard and soft corals, with huge walls that dropped off to the sea floor creating caves and chasms all around us. We swam over huge brain coral the size of a small house, and were swarmed by brightly coloured fish, a huge variety, of shapes, sizes and colours, creating a flickering light show in the distorted sunlight. It was an incredible experience to be so far from land surrounded by stunning fish. After our exertions we spent the rest of the morning relaxing by the infinity pool, a well-earned rest, and trying to keep cool in the glorious sunshine.
Although effectively stranded on the island there seems to be no end of things to keep you occupied, should you feel the need to venture off a lounger. Once we had recouped, we took the kayaks out to explore the bay. Paddling out toward the jetty, we could see the shapes of fish swimming around below us, we ventured past the reef shelf and around the corner of the island. We were greeted by an endless strip of golden sand stretching to the distance, fringed with lush palms and not a soul in sight. Making our way back to our own slice of paradise we saw stingray and a small reef shark swimming in the shallows below the jetty, that was a bit of luck and very cool to see them in the wild before we hopped safely back on dry land.
Already our final evening we made the most of golden hour, and sunset, at the Masima Bar. Sipping on alluring cocktails and watching the sun disappear behind an island on the horizon, the sky lit up around us, before giving in to darkness. In the warm evening air, and the torches lit, we had our final dinner out on the front terrace of the restaurant. Reflections danced on the beach and water below, stars gathered overhead, and the gentle lapping sounds of the sea were the perfect accompaniment to an incredible four course meal. Before retreating to our lovely island bure.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, as they say. Another glorious Fijian day greeted us on the morning of our departure. Squeezing in a last snorkel, the usual culprits were out in force, including the shoal of trevally and a school of parrot fish putting on a show of purples and turquoise. The rest of the morning was spent relaxing by the pool, followed by a hurried lunch, before taking a last walk along the jetty to our seaplane.
The staff sang us ‘Isa Lei’ a Fijian farewell song, as we took in the views one last time trying to engrain as much as possible in our memories, fondly saying goodbye to Likuliku. Thankfully, we had an incredibly scenic seaplane flight to distract us from our parting, with gorgeous views of islands, reef and beaches as we returned to the mainland and our flight home.
A truly luxurious experience, we had been incredibly spoiled, and despite only being gone three days we were totally refreshed and relaxed. Paradise at its best!