This year we celebrate 35 years married, and my wonderful husband takes it upon himself to organise the surprise location to celebrate all the +5 years anniversary holidays, ever since he surprised me with the 25th anniversary.

In 2007, I was working full time as a Correspondence School teacher, so Chris arranged my leave with my head teacher and organised a sitter to come in to stay with our teenaged children. I had given him the brief – I wanted to go somewhere warm, with a beach, and I wasn’t going to do any cooking. At least I knew the sort of things I’d need to pack and had a general idea of timeframes as our anniversary date is set. He warned me that he would give me one hour’s notice!

However I was not expecting to be woken at 6am on a Sunday morning and told… you have one hour! It is surprising what you can get done in that hour in packing final stuff, panicking over what ifs… where is…? what about…? But we made it and departed to the domestic airport in Wellington where I was told to hand over my passport and step away from the counter so I didn’t get to see the final destination tags on the suitcases or the boarding passes. It was still a surprise until we arrived in Auckland to await our international boarding call to … Fiji!

I was excited as we had not been to any of the Pacific Islands, and we were flying Business Class too! Chris has a much more generous nature than me and had no qualms about splurging out on this trip – me, I’d have researched everything and worked out best value and best deals – he just went to the travel agent and asked them to sort out “the best”.

We overnighted at the Hilton in Denarau before heading back to the airport in Fiji for another flight on a tiny 7 seater to our final resort destination of Vatulele, a small exclusive, all inclusive island resort to the south of the main Fijian Island of Viti Levu. Chris told me later that the flight was supposed to be on a sea plane but, in fact, this one landed on a small grassy runway in the middle of the island and we then endured a bone shaking trip in a 4wd to the actual resort some 20 minutes away.

In the end, all of this was forgotten when we arrived at the resort – of only 16 bures – to a special welcome and were shown to our home for the week – a lovely secluded bure well separated from those around us, with our own beach and lounging areas. The bure was huge! You could have slept a family of 6 there on the various lounges – but there were no children allowed on the resort – rooms for 2 only. Because of the remote nature, there were no in-room phones or air conditioning – it was well screened and ventilated, and for room service, you planted a flag on the beach!

We had a fabulous week of laying in the sun, sunbathing, eating, meeting couples from all over the world, walking, snorkeling, kayaking and generally having a fabulous time. Each night there was a communal table set up on the beach where you could eat with the other guests or, if you wanted more privacy, you could have meals served in your room. On our anniversary day, we opted for dinner at a special table waterside, where we had the water lapping nearby and our lobster brought to us along with wine and song! Another special treat was brunch on Nuki Nuki island where we were dropped at a gorgeous sandy/rocky island, about 20 minutes by boat from Vatulele, along with a hamper of breakfast goodies and whiled away the morning lazing and swimming on our own secluded island. Having complete privacy was amazing to enjoy the sun and water.

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I’ve added a link to their Facebook page, but I’m aware that Vatulele doesn’t operate as a resort any more so sadly it looks like we won’t ever get the chance to return.

Since that trip we have travelled back to Fiji four more times, exploring Castaway Island and Nanuya Island resort. We love heading away from the hotels of Denarau to smaller resorts and clear waters. The snorkelling in Fiji is fantastic and we are looking forward to heading back there again later this year

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