Thursday, 01 January 2015 00:00


Written by  Rita Cook

Saying “Bula” (hello) will come naturally as soon as you step off the plane in Fiji, a year-round paradise located in the heart of the South Pacific, comprising an archipelago of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are inhabited. Fiji is renowned for its stunning beaches, warm climate and relaxed island atmosphere, but it is also home to a local population of the most welcoming and helpful folks in the South Pacific.

Vanua Levu, FIJI
It’s a world of smiles and song and with a frangipani behind your ear you can do as much or as little on the islands, depending on you. When you visit Fiji you will likely want to take a trip to the island of Vanua Levu on one of the smaller planes like Fiji Link, but pack lightly, as this airline weighs bags and charges extra for overages. Relaxing with local traditions, spa experiences and good food is the Fijian way. One option is to do so is at the Koro Sun Fiji Resort with a top-of-the-line spa located on this pristine island. Koro Sun sits on 160 acres of pure paradise, and their Banana Leaf Body Wrap, a detox treatment, coupled with a massage is a great way to unwind. There are a variety of different options for accommodations at Koro Sun, but opt for an Edgewater Lagoon villa right on the water. There is an area of the resort for families, and another for couples. The two locations are separated for comfort with a variety of one and two-bedroom options, but this is the perfect destination for everyone.
Koro Sun offers a multitude of activities from biking to water sports, and you can even take a tour of the property to learn about the many plants and trees, including the highly revered Nani tree with its many healing properties.
Another nearby option is Namale Resort with a spa, friendly staff and home to the only bowling alley on the island. Meals can be served wherever you like - either on the beach, in your room, at the restaurant or in the laid back spa after a series of treatments, such as the highly recommended Mother Magic, a hot/cold stone massage with healing qualities taking you on a journey inward.

After four or five days on the tranquil island of Vanua Levu, head back to Vita Levu where the large city of Suva will provide an authentic local experience that includes a daily fish market where you will find fish you have never seen before, as well as a variety of fruits.
Check out relaxing Nanuku Resort and Spa located on the beach at Pacific Harbor and 90 minutes from Fiji’s capital city, Suva. Spend as much time as possible at the spa at Nanuku. Spa highlights include the traditional Fijian Bobo massage, hair and scalp massages and facials. If you are lucky, the discreet staff will also put together a special Kava Ceremony for you. Kava is a national drink in Fiji and shows a sign of respect. Once you drink it, you will find a tingling and numbness in your tongue caused by the Kava Root. It has no hallucinogenic properties though, despite its relaxing effects. When it is served, you drink it all in one go, and from there you and the remainder of the folks at the ceremony are friends for life.
Nanuku Resort and Spa is a laid back place. At sundown each evening they take part in a sundown ceremony that is traditional and worthy of watching with respect. The suites at the resort offer floor-to-ceiling windows and bi-fold doors and the bathrooms are spacious. Some rooms feature outdoor showers.  
At the end of the trip, on your way to the airport, it’s a must to stop at a local restaurant called Eco-Cafe on Queens Highway. The food is fresh, and the owners are entertaining - she is charming and from Italy, and he a Fijian, but even better, they have a brick oven for the best pizza in the South Pacific.

For a second destination option in the South Pacific, there is the much touted location of Tahiti, where many tourists head for a break. Possibilities are endless for places to stay, but one group that really stands out is South Pacific Management (SPM) in French Polynesia. Created in 1987, it is one of Tahiti’s leading luxury resort management companies and is responsible for the management of three Pearl Resorts, Manava Suite Resort Tahiti and the Manea Spa brand. As the destination’s only Polynesian hotel group, South Pacific Management remains committed to providing luxury accommodations within an authentic Polynesian setting, while maintaining respect for the traditions, culture and ecology of “Tahiti’s Hidden Paradise.”
Tahiti & Her Islands cover more than two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean with 118 islands in all, extending into over five archipelagos. The island of Tahiti is located in the Society Islands, an archipelago, which also includes the islands of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, and Bora Bora.
French is the official language in Tahiti, but English is spoken and understood in most places. However, try your hand at a few Tahitian words and phrases starting with hello, good day, and the friendly greeting, ia orana or welcome, which is maeva or thank you - mauru’uru.
No matter when you choose to visit the Tahitian islands you will find the destination, as well as Fiji’s islands too, continuously lulled by gentle ocean breezes, making every day the perfect day to visit the South Pacific. 

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