We are walking along a winding track toward a soon to be discovered majestic waterfall fringing the village of Votua on Fiji’s picturesque Coral Coast.
Without trepidation we trundle into the jungle and across streams that snake their way down the mountain. Occasionally villagers on horse back trot past, smiling broadly as they negotiate the muddy incline.
The adventure provides a contrast from surfing one of the many secret breaks that are accessed from Fiji’s premier family friendly surf camp Matanivusi, on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.
On a rare day when the waves do not live up to their consistent reputation, guides like Kevu are available to help you explore Fiji’s fertile landscapes and plantation walks where friendly locals are more than happy to talk about the cultivation of fruits such as bananas, paw paws and pineapples. There are also ancient medicinal herbs and of course the infamous kava root.
Up ahead a coconut tree abundant with fruit provides the electrolytes required to sustain the next leg of the adventure. We arrive after 40 minutes and are surprised to see volunteer workers building tables and creating a larger swimming area at the base of the falls. After diving into the cool fresh water and absorbing the beauty of its surrounds, we gorge on freshly packed sandwiches and then prepare for our return to the surf camp.
We do this via public transport which is a surreal way to get momentarily thrust into the culture and a sure way to meet some of Fiji’s more colourful characters. We’re on Fiji time and for us that means not caring what day it is let alone the time.
Matanivusi Surf Resort Fiji is the hidden gem in this part of the world with access to some of the best surf in Fiji just a short boat trip away. With the choice of two right hand breaks and the barreling Fiji Pipeline 20 minutes down the coast, quality waves are assured when the wind and tides are working together. There’s also the opportunity to surf the freight-training outer reef at Frigate’s Pass.
Owned and operated by Gold Coasters Brian and Donna McDonald, there are just eight beachfront bures to accommodate a maximum of 16 guests. This promotes certain exclusivity and minimises the impact on the surrounding environment of which the owners have incorporated into the design of the resort.
The resort collects rainwater in tanks for use throughout. Recycling programs ensure that all waste is sorted and disposed of through commercial contractors and a unique worm farm.
Developed to protect its special location and built as an eco-resort to make as little impact as possible during construction, implement best sustainable operating practices and encourage integration with the local Fijian villagers.
Take a dip in Matanivusi’s pool that appears to spill right out over the ocean or relax on the decking and read a book from the library where an eclectic selection has been garnered by former librarian Brian.
You can also grab a kayak and head out on to the lagoon or organise a fishing or snorkelling trip on the reefs. Guests can also experience the Fijian culture of Vunaniu Village located near the resort for a more personal experience.
Matanivusi bures are deluxe with king sized beds and all accommodation is beachfront and the bures have been designed by award-winning Australian architect Paul Uhlmann to achieve the integration of the natural landscape with the living area. The large deck and vast expanses of glass gives each unit breathtaking views of the beach and rainforest, even from the loo.
The resort is within a two-hour transfer from Nadi airport and the seclusion and indulgence begins. Matanivusi owners and staff put the emphasis and attention on the guest from the moment you step off the plane. Even Category 3 Cyclone Mick, cannot dampen the shining hospitality and while parts of the island are devastated, we eat a three-course candle lit dinner as flying coconuts torpedo past outside.
Matanivusi has employed the services of a super chef to whip up three gourmet meals a day (dinner includes three courses) and the food does not disappoint. Freshly caught fish, chicken dishes and even pasta highlight the menu. Sit and enjoy a sumptuous feast with other guests in the restaurant or retire to a more intimate occasion in your seaside bure.
Corporate functions are also catered for and business owners from around the world are seeing the value of booking out the entire resort, secluded and with ample activities to help promote better staff morale and foster smarter thinking by getting back to nature in true paradise.
Just remember you’re on Fiji time and here it’s all about maximising the experience by minimising stress. Afford the locals some of your time and it will be rewarded with a warmth and genuine ethos that will result in your return to this wondrous Fijian escape.
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