When one thinks of Fiji, one imagines beautiful South Pacific islands, silky white sand beaches with perfectly swaying palms and a plethora of colorful underwater life. All this is true. Plus, Fiji has the added advantage of having perhaps the friendliest, most hospitable people on earth. Which of course only adds to making these beautiful islands the perfect romantic get away.
One hundred ten of Fiji’s 333 islands are inhabited, so the choices of romantic resorts are extensive. Now that award-winning Fiji Airways has non-stop service daily from Los Angeles and non-stop service three times weekly during spring through fall from San Francisco, getting there is a breeze. These overnight flights leave the west coast in the evenings and arrive in Nadi in the early morning, perfect for transfers onward. Here is a list of four of my favorite romantic resorts in this South Pacific wonderland.
Tokoriki Island Resort
Tokoriki, one of the northern Mamanuca Islands, is a one-hour catamaran transfer from Nadi’s Port Denarau, or a 15-minute helicopter ride from the airport. With only two hotels on Tokoriki, the adults-only Tokoriki Island Resort is the stuff of which heavenly dreams are made.
All of Tokoriki’s 36 villas and bures – traditionally inspired dwellings – are ocean facing, great for those stunning, neon-hued sunsets. Twenty-four have private pools in addition to the large infinity pool near the main restaurant. They have separate indoor sitting areas, indoor and outdoor showers, large decks, loungers, and the all-important hammock.
Tokoriki’s Spa is a Zen-inspired affair with abundant lily pads, water fountains, lush greenery, and talented masseuses. To keep in shape there is a tennis court, a small TRX zone and a hike to the viewpoint. There is also a traditional chapel where Sunday services, small weddings and vow renewals are held.
Wi-Fi is brilliantly off nightly from six to nine permitting communion and uninterrupted enjoyment of the chef’s outstanding musings in the main dining room, both western and traditional. The separate, eight-seat teppanyaki restaurant has great food, and in addition to hilarious antics, the talented Chef Johnny Wax will probably pull out his guitar and serenade you with his angelic voice.
There is excellent snorkeling here with plenty of neon-colored fish and other marine life, including slow moving stingrays and black tip sharks. Tokoriki also has a complete PADI 5-star Gold Palm dive facility. Newbies can become certified divers and experienced hands can take specialty courses and embark on night dives.
A short boat ride across the glorious channel is Monuriki Island, where Tom Hanks’ 2000 drama “Cast Away” was filmed. There are other excursions, including to Yanuya Village, where one can meet the Chief or other village elders and beautiful, ever-smiling children who are delighted to get acquainted.
Tokoriki is certainly a place to return. Indeed, the day I left, a New Zealand couple arrived for their 50th visit to Tokoriki in 27 years. Sort of akin to Adam Sandler’s 2004 romantic comedy “50 first dates,” but only better since the dates lasted far longer than a day. While uncovering no available statistics, Tokoriki is so romantic I’d bet the farm that nine months following guests’ homecoming a significant worldwide population growth uptick occurs. www.Tokoriki.com
Matangi Island Resort
Access to the 240-acre privately owned paradise of Matangi Island Resort is by a one-hour flight from Nadi to Taveuni Island, Fiji’s third largest. At the small Matei airport you are met and driven 10-minutes to the Korean Jetty where you’ll be met by a private speedboat for the 15-minute jaunt to Matangi.
With just 12 beautifully appointed bures, including three grand tree houses, it has a magical, ethereal feel. If one dreamt of a favorite aunt with loving cousins who owned an adults-only South Pacific Shangri-La, Matangi would be it.
Tree houses are a marriage of elegance and nature, containing separate sitting areas, three decks, outdoor shower, large Jacuzzi, and perhaps more importantly, a French coffee press and absurdly delicious shortbread cookies. Down a flight of stairs through a verdant tree and you’ll be faced with a silky, white sand beach with a strategically placed hammock to watch those psychedelic sunset extravaganzas.
Matangi’s Spa is over water, so waves lap while masseuses used hot stones to skillfully lull you into bliss. Great meals are served in the alfresco, oceanfront dining room. For a private dining extravaganza, try a private dinner right on the beach. If you eat no other sweets while on Matangi, make certain to try their brownies, strategically located in glass containers on their very own sweet bar. And did I mention the brownies?
On Matangi’s west coast is Horseshoe Bay, listed in Patricia Schultz’s 2003 book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” Horseshoe’s water appears like a mirage it’s so turquoise. Here you can picnic, jump on a paddleboard and see shiny-coated mountain goats meandering nearby hills, or hop into a kayak. If you can’t leave that water, grab your snorkel gear and enter into another euphoric aquatic state with abundant marine life.
The snorkeling near Black Rock, 10-minutes by boat from Matangi, is also fantastic with plenty of fish, and massive, healthy corals in various shades of orange, red and ochre.
For landlubbers there’s daily volleyball, bush hikes, coastal walks, and Togo Village tours on neighboring Qamea Island. For nature lovers, Taveuni Island day tour is an eco-rich delight with abundant flora, fauna, lush greenery and several waterfalls.
An interlude at Mantangi will fill you with gratitude that such a place exists and will be romantic beyond measure. www.MatangiIsland.com
Six Senses, Malolo Island
The newest gem in Fiji’s treasure chest is Six Senses on Malolo Island, also within the Mamanuca Archipelago. If traveling with kids, this is parental Nirvana with a dedicated kid’s club, complementary nanny service, outdoor pizzeria and movie theatre. Of course, who more than parents, couldn’t use a bit of romance?
Located on a shallow, completely flat bay with ideal swimming/wading conditions, Six Senses Fiji has a full range of activities – nature walks, crafts, cricket – in addition to a myriad of water sports to keep everyone busy, happy and content.
All 24 handsomely appointed enormous bures and nine residences have private pools. The main pool fronts Tovolea Restaurant, where there are divine options such as Wagyu burgers and komba studded coconut cream parfaits. There are both eastern and western selections at Rara Restaurant and a deli if you have a hankering for some charcuterie, cheese and fine Fijian chocolate.
GEMs (Guest Experience Makers) schedule activities requiring reservations and generally see to it that guests are in a perpetual state of blissful. GEMs seem to require no sleep and sport magnificent smiles every time you see them.
In the castaway-chic, oceanfront bures, transcendent sleep is assured with Naturalmat mattresses and electronic blackout curtains. Indoor and outdoor showers, daybed and hammock make venturing too far a challenge, but venture you may wish to, since there is tennis, yoga and a fitness center. Or you can stroll to the complementary ice cream bar at the deli.
Not surprisingly, Six Sense emphasizes wellness. Its Spa is designed as a small Fijian village and has extensive options from sleep therapies to unique treatments such as its signature Fijian Bobo massage with poultices of herbs picked from their garden. If you weren’t Zen when you got there, you will certainly be Zen afterwards.
One can also take a short boat ride and snorkel near one of several deserted sandbars. You will see throngs of neon-colored fish as you swim towards these pristine sandbars. You will probably also see several immense, cobalt-colored starfish with an arm or two draped over a rock like an embrace of an old friend.
No matter what you choose to do or not do at Six Senses, you will be recharged, serene and of course, with your kids occupied and happy, you will have a very romantic holiday. www.sixsenses.com
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa
Just a 30-minute flight over stunning vistas from Nadi, Yasawa Island Resort & Spa is a one-island tropical hideaway resort. On arrival, it seems like the set for Ricardo Montalban’s 1977-84 television series “Fantasy Island” since employees meet you on the tiny airstrip bearing huge smiles and fresh coconuts. One can also get to Yasawa by seaplane, ferry or private boat.
Yasawa’s 18 large, contemporary Fijian-style bures are tucked amid lush flora so privacy abounds. All are ocean facing to take advantage of spell binding views. Separate living areas have comfortable seating and are stocked with Nespresso machines and chocolate chip cookies. There is luscious bedding and huge bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers, and of course, the requisite oceanfront hammock hung between swaying palms.
Yasawa’s beachfront Baravi Spa has an extensive menu featuring Fijian plant extracts. In addition to skilled masseuses leaving you relaxed and ready for romance, try the coconut sugar rub and warm body butter mask pedicure.
Adding to the romance, Yasawa is all-inclusive: gourmet meals and all cultural and water activities except scuba are included. There are also bush walks, tennis, village and church visits, and two of my favorites: beach picnicking in a deserted cove with abundant snorkeling and nearby, Turtle Island’s astoundingly Blue Lagoon Caves, made famous by Brooke Shields’ 1980 film “The Blue Lagoon.”
Wherever you go in Fiji, you will be surrounded by amorous settings with gorgeous beaches, plenty of activities or none at all, lovely accommodations, good food and hospitable Fijians. Mixed together, these make the perfect recipe for romance.
Julie L. Kessler is a travel writer, legal columnist and attorney based in Los Angeles and the author of the award-winning book “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com