Anyone who has visited Fiji will tell you they fell in love. With the islands, the people, the hospitality, the lifestyle, the food, the ocean and maybe even the kava. For a couples' holiday, Fiji is the ideal tropical location because while it's a tourism hotspot, there are more than 330 islands for you to choose from, to find that stretch of sand for just the two of you. In the north, the lesser-known and up-and-coming superstars of the South Pacific, the Yasawa Islands, are perfect for honeymooners and loved-up couples with luxurious accommodation options, vibrant reefs and verdant mountains. The Yasawas are accessible by boat or sea plane from Denarau, so hop aboard an Awesome Adventures Fiji or a South Sea Cruises vessel and get ready to discover a lost world, full of as much or as little adventure and activity as you want. You're on Fiji time now.
Our voyage began in Nadi with a fitting night's stopover at the aptly named First Landing Resort, joining the ranks of our holidaying peers Mel Gibson, Pink and Will Smith who have also stayed at First Landing. The Resort Manager Amanda Braddock tells us that the first Fijians arrived there around 1500BC, landing on the beach where we were standing. Her husband, affectionately known as “Chef Daz” runs the show in the restaurant and together with local staff, they run a pretty laid-back yet very efficient ship. After an evening of listening to a band of locals sing a range of Western classics (Johnny Cash!) and love songs, we retired to our villa before our voyage the next day.
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South Sea Cruises offer fabulous day cruises throughout the Mamanuca Islands which are perfect for those who want to base themselves in luxurious Denarau and enjoy a stay in five star bliss such as at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa. Perhaps one of the most convenient ways to get around the Yasawas is with an Awesome Adventures Fiji Island Hopping Pass, stopping at all of the gorgeous ancient islands along the way. Our first stop was at Paradise Cove Resort, the ultimate in chic design and luxury, and secondly at Botaira Beach Resort where we had the incredible opportunity to visit a traditional village.
Paradise Cove have a fabulous diving school where couples have the opportunity to snorkel, dive and hire out equipment such as kayaks and stand up paddle boards. During the manta ray season from May to October, holidaymakers have to opportunity to swim with the mantas, with most resorts in the area offering boat tours to the main channel they glide through like giant underwater aliens.
According to the Co-Owner of Paradise Cove Resort, Dave Good, one of the lesser-known facts about most of the resorts on the Yasawa Islands is that the resort owners and staff have a very strong focus on conservation and giving back to the locals. This is especially comforting as the Yasawa Islands only began to see tourism in the past decade or so, meaning there will be prevention rather than a cure for potential disruption to the ecosystems and communities.
For couples looking to make a difference on their Fiji getaway, the Vinaka Fiji voluntourism program works closely with Soso village to improve water sanitation, health services and educational support and supplies. To get to Soso we hiked over the mountain from Botaira Beach Resort with one of the young resort cooks, Bola, who was kind enough to offer to guide us as his family lives in the village. After arriving at the village and realising we should probably exercise more, we were greeted with a cheerful “bula!” from locals and children running around playing football with huge smiles on their faces. Bola showed us around the village and took us to the church which is the place to be on a Sunday to witness the beautiful singing.
We also stopped by the school where we met the headmaster Don tending to the grounds on his day off, followed by visiting a makeshift craft market some of the village ladies quickly assembled for us to buy some real Fijian souvenirs.
Climbing back over the mountain we settled down for a traditional lovo dinner at Botaira, sitting on the deck enjoying sundowners, forgetting that our calves were going to hurt tomorrow and remembering how little you need in life to be happy.