This place is a happy change from Fiji's larger resorts. It's small but there is plenty of space for everyone - no fighting for the sunloungers by the pool (at some resorts this is a competitive sport), no queuing at the buffet for dinner, no search for private, quiet corner. Fijians are delightful, friendly hosts and Wananavu's staff are its biggest asset. They learn your names from the first day and treat you like good friends the whole time.
The room: We upgraded to a beach front bure and were pleased we did. The room is well mosquito proofed, has air con (not really needed), good ventilation and ceiling fans. The king sized bed is comfortable and the room is attractive and well appointed. Bathroom is large with two basins and a wonderful shower that has one wall as a full size window opening onto a private garden area. Water pressure and temperature are fine. There's a pleasant deck and outdoor seating, and, as a nice touch, a foot washing bowl to rinse off the sand. The rooms are private and look out onto coconut palms and the sea, and islands beyond. There are lots of hammocks and sunloungers. The hammocks were upgraded while we were there. The bures are a bit of a walk from the main complex, but this was never an issue, plus you get to meet a variety of wildlife - geckos, frogs, skins, birds and butterflies - on the way. The mini bar was not too dear - we became hooked on the peanuts, which were the same price as in the supermarket.
Negatives about the room are that it has meagre supplies - 2 wine glasses, but no champagne glasses, good coffee for the plunger but no way to open the foil packs (requiring some deft work with the corkscrew). It needs a mirror above the coffee making area and an in-room safe, and better resort information provided in the rooms (e.g., the treatment list from the spa, the day's menu).
The grounds. The gardens are lovely. Lots of tropical plants (hibiscus, bougainvillea, as you would expect), and coconut palms. Everything is kept immaculate by a large team of gardeners who are constantly at work. The area down by the marina is particularly special - open and sandy with lots of palms.
Swimming. The resort has a medium free style pool with some big rocks and a waterfall. It's quite deep - nice for swimmers, but there is a shallow area too.The water is a good temperature and was never crowded. The sunloungers around the pool are comfortable, and there is unobtrusive poolside service. Towels are provided through the boutique. There is also a beach, which is best at high tide, and steps into the sea by the beachfront bures, plus swimming in the marina, as well as a snorkelling area a bit further out. The snorkelling is pretty good, and the gear is provided free (as are kayaks).
Food. Just the one restaurant - and nowhere else to go as this place is remote. The food is not bad at all. Unlike the big resorts, Wananavu does not do buffets (except for the traditional Fijian feast, which is excellent). Breakfast is simple but good. Their bacon is truly some of the best I've ever had, and the scrambled eggs are great. Often the fruit at breakfast was over ripe for our taste. Best value is had from the all day menu. The daily menu offered some interesting dishes, but could be pricey ($F40). It was disappointing that there wasn't a larger range of fresh local food, especially seafood, on offer. The marinated fish was always a good option. We found the curries distinctly lacking in any punch whatsoever - a disappointment, as we've had some spectacularly good Indian food in Fiji. The wait staff are brilliant. Our water glasses were kept topped up with ice-cold water - much appreciated. The packed picnic lunch for the beach picnic was enormous - much more than we would eat. Lunch and dinner at the restaurant were always accompanied by a Fijian band. We loved that.
Drinks. The tap water is okay to drink. If you want bottled water then you have to pay for it (other resorts provide a bottle a day). There's a good range of cocktails, well priced especially at happy hour. If you are very lucky, you may get coconut chips with chilli sauce with your drinks. My word they are good, but they only came out on one night.
Activities. For a small resort the range of activities is impressive. There's lots of diving, plus snorkelling (the trip out on the boat yields some wonderful snorkelling areas), cultural trips, picnics and so on.The fellow at the activity hut is fantastic. Don't miss his free talks - we especially enjoyed the one on the coconut. We visited the spa a few times and had excellent treatments and would definitely recommend them. Shopping at the boutique is rather limited, but then you're not at the beach to shop. I'd say it was adequate. Just. We went on the beach picnic. It was on an island where there was an abandoned lodge. Beware the mosquitoes there - legions! It was a slightly strange place to go, and not very 'deserted', although the snorkelling was awesome.
Other. Be warned. This place is long way from the airport at Nadi. Our transfer took 2.5 hours and the roads are rough. It is not a particularly comfortable trip but it is interesting to see so much of the countryside and people. Once you are at the resort the trip is soon forgotten, but do think about flight times. A morning flight may entail a ridiculously early wake up time. We arrived at the resort very late, but enroute the resort phoned our driver and took a dinner order so that some food was waiting in our room. That was a really nice touch.
As noted above, the staff are magical. They really make this place. While we were there the owners were visiting. Usually at these resorts the owners and managers make themselves known to the guests and want to find out more about them and their impressions, or tell them about the place. The entire time we were there, we were never approached by either management or owners. They kept to themselves, dined together in an exclusive wee bure (it looked really sweet, I would have liked the opportunity to eat in there) and spoke to only one or two guests, who must have looked much more interesting than us. We made several friends at the resort, and they had the same experience and were also unimpressed. I have to say that the unfriendliness of the management soured our experience somewhat. And that is a great shame, because Wananavu is a special place. It is quiet but not boring (unless that's what you want), there's plenty of space and privacy to your own thing, some great activities, and it has the flavour, as they say, of the real Fiji. I would definitely consider returning.
Beach front bures are cool, quiet and private, but I also heard that the honeymoon bures are to die...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.