Relax with a Fijian island escapePosted on: 03 November 2009 by Mark O'haire
On a search for the ultimate desert island holiday, Carol Driver visits Nukubati - a little-known, 108-acre private island situated inside the Great Sea Reef, off the north coast of the Fijian island of Vanua Levu.
The small boat in which I’m travelling makes the five-minute journey from the Fijian mainland to the tiny desert island I’ll be calling home for the next few days. To reach this small chunk of paradise, I’ve endured a bumpy 40-minute flight from Nadi to Labasa and an hour-and-a-half car journey on uneven Fijian roads. But with the pristine sand and coconut trees in sight, I know the journey to Nukubati is going to have been worth it.
With only four bungalows and three bures (traditional thatched cottages), sleeping just 14 people, it’s exclusive - meaning it’s a great place to shut yourself off to the “real world”.I arrive with two other guests - a honeymoon couple - and we’re greeted by the dulcet tones of the resort staff singing a traditional Fijian welcome. I’m handed a salu-salu (flower necklace) and enjoy a coconut juice in The Pavilion - the centre of the resort where guests can relax while reading a book from the extensive library, sip a cocktail by the bar or dine while enjoying sea views.
Nukubati is surrounded by white beaches and boasts lush, untouched rainforest - the setting is, quite simply, breathtaking. But it’s the location which really makes it popular with newly weds wanting to unwind after the stress of the big day. Here, you can do as little or as much as you wish (and there are no phones in the rooms, meaning you won't be disturbed).
Under 12s are not allowed, so your stay is guaranteed to be peaceful. And, if you book during the quieter months of June to August, it’s likely that you will have the whole island to yourself.
I’m shown to my deluxe bure, which boasts a traditional plantation-style design with rattan furniture reminiscent of the country’s colonial past. It has a huge, airy relaxation/bedroom area, a wrap around veranda with comfy chairs where you can easily laze away a day, and a large separate bathroom. Choose to relax here, or on sunloungers on your very own stretch of beach.
The resort is a lovers’ paradise where nothing is too much trouble for the wonderfully competent and friendly staff (who will even organise your wedding, should you wish). They’ll happily arrange a romantic picnic at the lookout peak (stunning panoramic views of the South Pacific Ocean), a candle-lit dinner on the beach or leave you to explore the island together.
For the more adventurous traveller, there’s sailing, tennis, volleyball, surfing, snorkelling or scuba diving - where you have a chance of seeing a whale shark in the Great Sea Reef.
During my stay at the resort, there’s a celebration on the mainland where a village is fundraising for a new church. The ‘big chief' will be there, so we're promised a ceremony which would be a similar scale should the Queen ever visit Fiji.
As guests of the Nukubati staff, who are all Fijian, we’re invited. The men and women don sulus - traditional Fijian clothing of a colourful long sarong-style skirt and top - and we make the short journey to the village.
The celebration is wildly entertaining. The villagers pull out all the stops to welcome the Big Chief - groups of men and women take it in turns to dance and sing while dressed in grass skirts after the formal ceremony of gift presenting. A feast of vibrant foods and cakes is served while guests take part in the social activity of drinking kava - the Fijians’ native drink, made from the root of the pepper plant (which looks like muddy water and has an “earthy” taste).
It’s an exhilarating but tiring day and I’m looking forward to enjoying a glass of champagne on the beach at Nukubati before dining with the other guests.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included in the resort prices - and each meal is a lovingly prepared selection of local delicacies (it's here I try the hottest chillies I've ever come across).
So we sit back and relax, knowing that everything is in hand, and appreciating how privileged we were to be a part of such an authentically Fijian day. If it’s a taste of the real country that you’re after, a break at Nukubati is one of the best ways to enjoy it.
By Carol Driver
Follow Carol @caroldtravels
Travel to a Fiji paradise island
Stay seven nights for the price of six in a beachfront suite at Nukubati, with a free dayroom at the Fiji Orchid from US$4,250+tax per couple. Visit www.nukubati.com.
Charter a seaplane through the Nukubati. The one-hour journey from Nadi airport direct to the resort costs US$1,745 one way.
Cathay Pacific is due to launch a new route between Heathrow and Fiji via Hong Kong. The service is scheduled to start from December operating on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Air Pacific fly from Australia to Nadi (three hours from Sydney) from FJD$440 (£147) one way.
Pacific Sun offer 40-minute flights from Nadi to Labasa from FJD$129 (£43).
For more information visit the Tourism Fiji UK website or call 0800 652 2158.
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