It was just a 3 hour ferry ride between me, and pure Fijian luxury at Paradise Cove Fiji. It was going to be relaxing, they said. Stress-free, they said.
To be fair, it did start out that way. We passed island after island, and stopped at various resorts. The boat called for guests overhead, and they got into smaller boats to depart to their next destination. I watched, through the window, as beautiful beaches gave way to lush green landscapes, which gave way to seaside cliffs and secluded coves. Finally, Paradise Cove Fiji came into view. I recognized it from my obsessive Trip Advisor research, and it looked even more gorgeous than I’d imagined.
But, after the briefest stop, and no boarding call… The huge Yasawa Flyer’s engines begin to rev up, and the boat began to leave. Confused and panicking, I go outside onto the deck, and tell the crew that we were supposed to get off there. Cue multiple shouts and relayed messages in Fijian, and a not small ferry makes a U-turn in the middle of the ocean to drop my husband and I off.
I suppose I do like to make an entrance.
Apparently, this happened because we did not have checked bags (read: huge luggage). We travel ultralight in our Tom Bihn Synapse 25’s, which we brought on board with us rather than checking it in with staff. Since normally the crew matches up a huge suitcase with each person, we accidentally were bypassed because we didn’t have any! Hah!
Amazing room in the Vonutoutou beach house, and aforementioned lack of luggage
Paradise Cove Fiji was very gracious about the mix-up, and after my stress levels calmed down, I was ready for part two of our adventure! After a well deserved drink at the bar, we were shown to our accommodation. We reserved one of the Vonutoutou Beach Houses. Located on an uninhabited island across the channel from the main hotel, we were shuttled across in a boat aptly named the Vonutoutou Express, which takes the guests of the four beach houses to and from the main resort any time of day.
The houses are, in a word, incredible. An airy and minimalistic open-concept kitchen/living room set in monochrome gives way to two master suites. The suites both ooze romance, but we chose the one with the four poster bed and gauzy panels surrounding it. A huge deck flanks the entire front of the house, with an outdoor dining table. There are lounge chairs both for the deck, and set out on the beach under a palapa, which I devoured two novels in five days on. Sounds beautiful, right?
None of that took the cake, though. The best part of it was, hands down, the bathroom. Nearly twice the size as my bedroom at home (we live in a small house, but still), the bathroom was every single thing I have ever dreamed of. If California weather permitted having an outdoor bathroom, I would mortgage my soul for this to be recreated.
Amazing beach house aside, I was also quite impressed with the restaurant at Paradise Cove Fiji. I am assuming given the price point, and the closer proximity to Nadi, they are able to have access to the finest ingredients and chefs. While we did have a couple of misses at the Blue Lagoon, seriously every single item prepared for us at Paradise Cove was delectable. All meals were menu-based, and there was a bit more creativity and variety with the selections. We also were able to partake in a Fijian Meke (similar to a luau), where we were treated to the talented singers/dancers from a nearby village. There was copious dancing and mandatory audience participation, followed by a beautifully prepared buffet feast of traditional Fijian dishes.
I am an avid snorkeler and swimmer, and having explored reefs in many locations, I say with confidence that Paradise Cove Fiji is the most beautiful place I have ever snorkeled. The variety and beauty of underwater life was unparalleled. From the requisite tropical fish and stunning coral, to reef sharks, starfish, and even a jellyfish, I could have stayed out there exploring all day. We even “found Nemo” off the beach of our beach house! A few clownfish were among soft coral just like in the Pixar movie, and I found it so awesome that I accidentally inhaled sea-water. It is with great regret that I tell you that my GoPro Silver 4 fell short in capturing the beauty of this underwater realm. I say you go see it for yourself!
The staff at Paradise Cove Fiji were also incredible. We became aquatinted with our night security guard (patrolling an uninhabited island, what a great job), who was a source of great conversation while waiting for the boat to go across the channel for dinner. He also showed us a spot where there were giant hermit crabs, the size of two man-sized fists put together! Some couldn’t find shells to house themselves, so they used small pots from plants an other miscellany as homes. He would bring them leftover rice to eat; no wonder they were so big! Our housekeeper was also very friendly, and talked to us about her childhood, and commute to work by boat.
Despite perhaps being a bit less authentic than other accomodation, Paradise Cove was top-notch. If you are looking for a luxurious hotel in Fiji, look no further.
Our journey home was a long one. The ferry harbor was pure chaos. The bus system was beyond disorganized. Our flight from Fiji to LAX was boarded by a man yelling out seat assignments, which were relayed back like the game telephone to the 300+ other passengers (somehow, we only took off 15 minutes late). But honestly, none of it really phased me. It might sound a little cliche, but the easy way of living in Fiji really resonated with me. Too bad the whole concept of “Fiji time” doesn’t fly in American culture. I think it’s a solid philosophy.
Next up on the blog: FAQ – How on earth did you pack for nearly 3 weeks in Fiji in just that little backpack?