Paradise Taveuni Waiyevo, 679 888 0125. 10 bures and 1 apartment; maximum capacity is 22 guests. Pool; full-service spa. Restaurant; bar; tour desk; full-service dive shop; gift shop. Located 25 miles from the Matei Airport, this remote resort is reached via a scenic 1-hour drive through rainforest and coconut plantations and over a long stretch of unpaved (or “unsealed”) road. It is beautifully situated on the Taveuni’s flat south end behind a 2,000-foot-high ridge of mountains formed by 28 extinct volcanoes that protects it from the wind, which ensures calm, clear waters here year-round. Oceanfront on 5 acres and with a deep-water drop-off, the resort was remodeled from a backpackers resort in 2007. This property was originally used for growing cotton, and Fiji’s first sugar cane field was nearby. And though it really does feel like paradise, it is on the dry side of the volcano--the other side is even more lush! Most guests are American, and all are welcomed with a refreshing coconut milk drink followed by a foot massage on their bure patio.
Your name is chalked on a board outside your bure, and the staff addresses you by name within hours, adding “welcome home” to the greeting. Bures are separated from the ocean’s edge by a large expanse of well-manicured grass, and each is positioned for a water view.
Bures are built mostly with wood from local coconut and rain trees, and each has a king-size bed in a separate bedroom as well as a spacious lounge room with a stocked beverage area, but you’ll find no phones, TVs, or clocks. “We’re on rooster time,” says personable Australian owner Allan Gortan, and chickens run freely throughout the property.
Bathrooms have a shower-tub and access to a lava-rock-fence-enclosed courtyard with flowers and ferns tucked in here and there and a refreshing outdoors shower and Jacuzzi. The showers can be iffy with hot water, which comes and goes, but there is simply nothing like a cool-off in an outdoor shower. Throughout the bure are cool white-tile floors, some covered by locally made woven-fiber rugs, and a high woven-fiber ceiling with huge support logs has two fans. Traditional thatching combined with wood louvers keeps air flowing throughout. Air conditioning is not available or missed. Glass French doors open to a spacious front patio with daybed. In the morning, roosters announce the new day followed by the sound of the generator being started up by owner Allen, and often a soft rain falls to help keep the sumptuous landscaping green. The owner is an award-winning chef, though he now mostly oversees the tasty menu featuring many Fijian delicacies and local organic produce. Breakfast specialties include lovely sunny-yolk eggs, delicious spicy lamb sausage, and fresh papaya-banana juice. The addictive house cocktail, a Yellow Bird of Paradise, is made with local white rum, coconut liquor, and fresh papaya and banana. Meals that are included in the room rate: a full cooked breakfast, one-course lunch, and two-course dinner.
Guests may choose to upgrade to a two-course lunch and/or a four-course dinner. Beverages included in the daily room rate are tea, coffee, and iced tea. Several drinks package upgrades are also available. The resort’s tap water is from a local spring in the volcano, so no need to spend big bucks on bottled Fiji Water. On the night of the Fijian Lovo Feast, guests can watch the traditional preparation of foods for cooking in a lovo pit next to the ocean--including braiding coconut leaves around the chicken, fish, beef, and cassava. After indulging in an appetizer of really good Fijian popcorn (deep-fried coconut strips), the feast is enjoyed at a long communal table out under the stars.
Later, villagers arrive to sing and to perform the sacred kava ceremony. Flashlight fish come out in the evening and are worth the short trek from the dining room to observe. Free on-site activities include coconut tree climbing lessons and a sulu (sarong)-tying demonstration.
Optional off-site activities include horseback riding, kayaking, jet skiing, hiking, guided tours to waterfalls and rainforests and to villages and Sunday church services, as well as swimming in the ocean-side horizon-edge pool and relaxing in a hammock. Snorkeling and diving is excellent right off the resort pier, but trips are also scheduled to the famous Rainbow Reef and other world-class dive sites. The water is crystal clear and warm. An oceanfront spa offers massage, facials, and pedicures--Fiji Fuscia anyone?--which are especially enjoyable since you get to look out at the ocean. Guests who get engaged at Paradise get a free Sunset Wedding if they return.