I'm a mother to three, living in and loving Fiji for the past 13 years. I also do wedding, event and portrait photography under my business, Island Encounters Photography, based in Nadi, Fiji. www.islandencountersphotography.com
Published October 10th 2014
Discover this authentic Paradise in Fiji
Last week I traveled to Paradise. As a Fiji-based wedding photographer, I visit a lot of great resorts, but this one stood out as one of the most hospitable, authentic and beautiful.
Paradise Taveuni is located on the third largest island in Fiji, the "Garden Island," which is aptly named for the lush native flora and fauna. In fact, many plants and animals found on Taveuni are not found on the other islands (invasive species have not been introduced to Taveuni, so wildlife flourishes, much of which is on display at the resort).
The drive from Matei airport to the resort is just over an hour long in the resort's four-wheel drive twin-cab. The breath-taking views make it seem much shorter (but to some the bumpy dirt road on the southern stretch may make it seem longer!). In my opinion, anywhere worth going is off the beaten track.
Upon arrival, you will be decked out in a traditional flower garland and invited to drink a chilled green coconut--yum! This is just one example of many locally-sourced items (from the food to the timber used for the buildings) that give this resort its charm. If you aren't already charmed, just wait until you see your name written on your bure's own little blackboard, welcoming you to your very own home in Paradise.
The bures are traditionally thatched. With local artwork and woodcarvings, shell curtain pulls and sand-textured walls, it's the best of the island on display around you. A large comfortable bed, indoor and outdoor showers, and an outdoor jacuzzi enveloped in lush vegetation all invoke relaxation. My complimentary sulu (Fijian tropical sarong) was folded on the bed, waiting for me to slip into it.
Honestly, though, the things that pulled my heartstrings the most were the personal touches all around the resort. Australian owners Allan and Terri obviously love Fiji, and it shows. Contented and happy staff, amazing food, personal attention to guests' desires, environmental conservation and even programmes that give back (like their school sponsorship programme for staff children) gave me warm fuzzy feelings about this resort.
Not to mention the reef. . . the world-class diving is raved about from guests, even though all I personally had time for was a snorkel in the morning (and it was great, I even found Nemo and his dad!).