Travel Weekly Hawaii Bureau Chief Doug Oakley recently spent a
week in Fiji. His report follows.
TAVEUNI, Fiji -- One of the finest places I stayed during my
too-short week on this quiet island of unpaved roads was the Maravu
From the international airport in Nadi, on the island of Viti
Levu, I flew to Taveuni on Sun Air, formerly called Sunflower
Airlines. The ticket runs about $250 roundtrip.
I landed on the dirt airstrip on Taveuni and was picked up by
the resort car. Maravu Plantation Resort is small and intimate,
with 12 bungalows, or bures, of different sizes spread about a
grassy, coconut tree-laden area that was a former copra plantation.
(Copra is dried coconut meat used to extract coconut oil.)
There's plenty of room and privacy about the place. Honeymoons
are its specialty.
"We are not that high-end that we get the people who are
difficult to please, but we don't get backpackers, either," said
general manager Angela Kiess.
There was something about the resort I couldn't quite identify
that made for a pleasant overall stay.
It could have been the genuine hospitality extended by the Fijian
staff, or the quiet natural surroundings, or all the kava I put
down during my stay.
The kava, a mild narcotic drink made from a root, was offered
from a gigantic wooden bowl on a grass mat on the floor of the
restaurant while the house band played guitars and sang. This went
on from early evening until 2 a.m.
Even the grumpy honeymooners I met on the plane, who had
traveled 21 hours from Denver, were seen smiling and relaxed just a
few hours after their arrival at Maravu.
Maravu has three honeymoon bures, each with a king-size bed and
an outdoor private shower and sundeck; five deluxe bures, each with
a king-size bed and a single bed, and two duplexes with two units
each. The duplex units each have a king-size bed and a single bed
plus connecting doors, so they can be used for families.
Rack rates, which include three meals a day, range from $130 per
person, per night, for triple occupancy, up to $190 per person, per
night for a honeymoon bure. Maravu pays agents 10% to 13%
commission, depending on volume.
The food was what I would consider top-of-the-line, especially
considering what an out-of-the-way place Taveuni is.
The resort has all kinds of activities available included in the
room rate. There are sea kayaks, snorkeling equipment, horses to
ride and mountain bikes, to name a few. Guests can also book
outings to various sites on the island, including the Tavoro
waterfall and the Waitavala Waterslides (a natural rock water
Sailing on a 44-foot yacht is another option. There also is an
on-site massage hut. Diving is a big attraction in Fiji, and
especially in the Taveuni area. The resort also can book diving
excursions for guests.
Maravu has two travel agent specials and several packages for
Agents who book six consecutive nights at Maravu by March 31
will get one night free and can use the free night through
November. Agents can accumulate up to seven free nights generated
from separate six-night bookings.
Through March 31, agents also get 50% off rack rates, single or
double, with breakfast, with a minimum two-night stay.
Maravu offers discounts for stays of six, eight and 12 nights
and offers a soft-adventure package and a soft-adventure and diving
package as well as wedding packages.
Fiji islands: For author, unrest was worlds
HONOLULU -- Two days before I was to leave Honolulu for Fiji in
December, I got the news: A mutiny within the Fiji military
resulted in a 10-hour gun battle and eight soldiers dead.
Nine mutinous soldiers were on the loose. Suva, the city Fiji
tourism brochures refer to as "The City of Surprises," was under
curfew and remains so today.
All this followed a 54-day coup that began on May 19 and ended
with the overthrow of the demo- cratically elected government.
Should I go or not?
It is true that during the coup some hotels were taken over and
their guests sent packing by groups using the coup as an excuse to
extort money from hotel owners.
That kind of thing was a worry. I decided to go.
My plan was to stay far away from Suva, where the the curfew is
in effect from midnight to 4 a.m., and which seems to be the only
place where trouble happens.
With all that said, I never noticed a trace of unrest. What I
did find were some of the warmest and friendliest people I have
ever met. Aside from the very large soldiers with machine guns at
Nadi Airport, there was nothing to report.
In conversations with Fijians, I did detect some resentment
toward their ethnic Indian countrymen who make up about half of the
population. That tension was part of the reason for the coup. The
two groups are as different from each other as any ethnic groups
could be, and their cultural differences tend to cause some
But where I was, in the Mamanuca Island group, on the main
Island of Viti Levu and on the island of Taveuni, the government
unrest was literally and figuratively worlds away.