We’ve just returned from our 6th visit to Fiji in 10 years, and have stayed at a number of different accommodation options. This time we grabbed a package deal on Beqa (pronounced bengga) Island to the south of the island of Viti Levu, probably closer to Suva than Nadi. Travelling in June meant that we were exposed to a greater range of temperatures and weather patterns, and in fact the first few days were quite windy and cool.
Lalati Resort is a small all-inclusive (accommodation and food) destination on a northeast-facing inlet on the island of Beqa. They are marketed as a honeymoon destination and the new-ish honeymoon villas were large and well planned with views of the sea and good separation from each other. There was room to spread out inside, decks outside with covered seating, an outdoor and indoor shower, and a large, very comfortable, four poster style bed. We enjoyed the accommodation and found the resort staff to be friendly and welcoming. However, the location was not one we would return to – there was no real swimming beach and the sun set over the hill behind so the afternoons got cool and dark quickly. The snorkelling was really good however, and I believe that Beqa is a diver’s destination, the corals were in better conditions than some other places we have seen in Fiji, and a good diversity of fish life – but not the abundance we experienced recently in the Maldives. Once the wind died down and the days warmed slightly, we ventured into the sea to explore the reef areas easily accessible from the resort, but wimpy me never made it into the swimming pool as it was very cold.
As much as the accommodation and staff made this place a good experience, it didn’t have the sandy beach front we’ve enjoyed at Castaway and Nanuya resorts to the west and north of Nadi, and so we probably won’t return here.
Overnighting at Denarau Island is sometimes a necessary evil due to flight schedules, but I am constantly amazed at the numbers of people whose only experience of Fiji is this man-made hotel conglomeration. There are all the main chains lined up along the reclaimed “beach-front” – the Hilton, Sofitel, Westin and Sheraton all vie for guests but are all so much the same. The beach is all reclaimed and very unappealing for swimming, the cold swimming pools are packed with families and you fight to find a lounger, and many of the staff look like they would rather be elsewhere. It lacks the personality of the outer island resorts we have experienced and those who stay here miss on the “real” Fiji in my opinion.
Nanuya Resort on the Blue Lagoon is one of our favourite locations in Fiji – we have stayed at this boutique (tiny) resort 3 times – the warm blue sheltered waters and amazing white sandy beach is reason enought to venture 5 hours by ferry or splurge on a half hour float plane trip. The staff are friendly and the food fresh from local suppliers or the ocean. Castaway, although not as intimate, was also well set on a beautiful beach and had much more of an island ambience.
If you are travelling to Fiji, don’t stop on the main island in an impersonal hotel complex. Venture to the islands – there are many to chose from and enjoy a more laid back vibe – really get onto Fijian time and experience a more local flavour. You’ll probably get more privacy too, and be able to enjoy swimming in the liquid lagoons.