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“Lovely location but needs some TLC” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Caqalai Island Resort

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Caqalai Island Resort
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| PO BOx 83, Fiji   |  
Hotel amenities
Dunedin, New Zealand
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Lovely location but needs some TLC”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2012

We have just returned from 2 weeks in Fiji and spent 2 nights at Caqalai Island resort, and unfortunately, having read some fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor, were a bit disappointed. There is absolutely no doubting that this is just such a beautiful island, and could be something quite special, but there appears to be a lack of care about the place. Apart from when were were arrived and were shown our bure, and at mealtimes, we rarely saw any of the staff (the dogs were incredibly friendly and lovely though - walking us to and from our bure, walking round the island with us, and sleeping outside (and yes, sometimes inside, I admit it!) our bure at night). The accommodation is very basic, and that is absolutely fine I have no problem with that - the location is just stunning - bure right on beach edge, 'window'(ie wooden - prop open with stick) giving you a waters view, but there is a general feeling of neglect around. The toilet looked like it hadn't had a good scrub for quite sometime, and on our final morning, we had to resort to another toilet further away as the toilet roll ran out, and nobody is around checking or cleaning anything. There is an amazing old bure which was on the waterfront, and due to the storm, now has no floor.....it is just sitting there decaying. It is such a shame as it has one of the old traditional amazing roof's and it looks like it is just going to be left to fall down - it would be so simple to just rebuild it a bit further back and maintain the stunning roof, but no maintenance is happenning. Food was OK when we were there - nothing to rave about though. There was an English girl there when we were there who had been there for two weeks, and when she was the only person staying there for a number of days she pretty much got fried dough plus something else for all her meals, so when we were there the food was an improvement! In a nutshell, this place could be just lovely - simple, but lovely, if some care and maintenance was done. However, our experience was that it was just too overpriced for what you get ($F150 for double bure including meals). It wouldn't take much to improve it - some cleaning, maintenance, care, mossie coils in the dining area etc. We had to leave a day earlier than we planned, as there was no boat available the following day, so made our way to Nananu-i-ra - MacDonalds cottages. We will be returning to MacDonalds in Nananu-i-ra next year, not Caqalai - enough said.

Room Tip: All the bures are pretty much the same basic room - those on the waters edge boast the best view and...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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35 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
queenstown
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2012

It makes me laugh a little at the total differing views on Caqalai Island resort...so much so that I wonder if the staff constantly change or perhaps that the season and the weather makes a much bigger impact than I would have thought....to me ... the people and the scenery make a place. Take one away the scenery however and the hospitality of people running a place can still vastly override any kind of unfortunate weather or run down surroundings.

I love to bum it around and find I go for cheap over comfort...but what does affect my opinion of a place more than anything else is the welcoming smiles, hospitality and passion for the service you are offering. Caqalai Island resort had none of these...with the exception of Rye who was friendly but still seemed to lack any great joy in us staying there.

We arrived on our $40pp boat ride onto a rather windy and rainy Caqalai..Oh well...finding our bure we chilled out in the rain and looked forward to lunch.

Lunch consisted of some very unhealthy fried chicken and chips, I later found out the chicken gets imported from america!!!! I actually felt my face fall...surrounded by coconuts and having been so beautifully fed on Ovalau at Bobo's Farm and spending our time learning about all the organic healthy fresh vegetables and fruits fiji has to offer, the chicken and chips was a vast disappointment! The meals were all chicken, with the variety of rice one one day and some green vegetables another. I understand the Bure's were damaged in a storm a while back and that is apparent in the almost eerie quietness of the place...no staff were anywhere to be seen half the time..you would expect this quietness to add to the romanticism of the place..tropical island all to ourselves ..but it somehow inexplicably did not.

If this had been a part of a huge travel trip for a few weeks Caqalai would have simply melted into the background, overtaken by all the mind-blowing places we would have seen and I probably would have not even bothered writing this, as part of a week long holiday however it sticks with me more and I feel of all the places you could choose in Fiji to escape the tourist hordes, Caqalai rates pretty poorly.
The beach was beautiful in the sun however and the water warm...the cava session was the most animated and friendly the staff got and was a lot of fun...snorkelling was adequate..and the man running the snorkel gear hire was blase and unhelpful...and the dogs were friendly. Having only stayed for a couple of days maybe we would have had some sort of satisfaction and real enjoyment getting to know the staff and the story behind this strange little resort had we spent more time.

It would be amazing if the people owning and running this island could welcome people with enough enthusiasm and drive and simple tasty food that everyone would want to stay and help rebuild the damaged bure's and showers.. Caqalai is thriving with potential it just seems that no-one really gives a s***.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, New Zealand
Top Contributor
111 reviews 111 reviews
90 hotel reviews
Reviews in 80 cities Reviews in 80 cities
153 helpful votes 153 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

Time to leave the smell of the tuna factory behind.Standing on the wharf in Levuka awaitng the boat to Caqalai Island I am informed that the islands generators had broken down. How will they keep food refridgerated and my beer cold. Oh dear. Boat finally arrived one hour late and after going to get fuel and bits finally off we go. Two of use only and priced $40 each for the hour journey. This boat (skiff, open to the elements with no shelter at all) does not belong to the resort hence the cost. The resort only has one boat that is operational and this is used for themselvies going back and forth to their villages on another island, there is no village on this island. Their boat is not for guest transfers to Levuka or mainland. Their other boats are derelict like parts of the resort. One unoccupied bure fell down with no provercation. I blamed one guest who had knocked over volley ball net pole with enthusiastic dive earlier. Expectations were not high as had been told that the resort had been battered by storms in Feb and had not repaired itself. Greeted by Rai and two dogs at waters edge. After formalities (I payed in advance and was asked if I had any food allergies, good) $75 fjd inc food, cash as no card facilities. Taken for short walk down a path engulfed by coconut plams to my bure. Toilet on right not working so please use the one on the left. ( no good as the plumbing leeked and therefore no proper flush) Had to go to the block which also has showers(no rose on them so water comes in a stream not a sprinkle)No hot water. No problems. Two showers outside with the only mirrors, walls made of palm frons. I liked the open air feel and used these regularly. Arriving at my bure. Almost all the thatching on the roof had gone revealing a tin roof. Never mind, as long as the rain does not come in. Its winter in the islands so rain will be about. Windows are wooden shutters that prop up with sticks. Very effective and as the light fails at end of cloudy day these will give lumination. Comfortable double bed and one single both with mozzy nets. Shiney lino covered floor allowing sand to be easily brushed away. Sand will get everywhere of course, you are on the waters egde. Small lantern given but no good for reading. Had to put my own batteries in it as theirs were almost past use by date. Electric lights not availible in bures, storm damage is in evidence everywhere. Palms lying on beach, the loss of much sand, damaged bures. There are dorms(these vary from 4 beds to one with large ...number).Often your dorm will be just for two as management try to split guests so they feel they are in their own private bure. Depends on availability of course. Meals are very basic but good and sufficient. Freshly caught fish often and even got Crayfish. Rain water for drinking so no need to bring bottled water. Showers from well so recommend not to drink. Bring Mozzy repellent. You also need to bring any nibbles,soft drink and alco. There is an old freezer with salt ice in it to keep your drinks cool on request. Generator got up and going and is on for dinner. What to do? Nothing and everything. Snorkle to the east will reward with flowing corals and many differerent coloured fish, the south side a long wade over reef to good edge and pillars with diversity of creatures including the odd turtle and reef sharks. Low tide a walk to snake island( reef shoes or sneakers recommended). The two dogs will join in and chase fish and torment crabs. You my want to just swim. Journey by boat to other reefs and scuba can be arrange. Some nights fire on beach and often cava drinking. Coconuts in abundance. You will hear them crashing to the ground. Hopefully missing your head. After six nights it was time to move, I looked out of the bures shutters at the crystal clear water and felt I could have stayed a few more days here. So so peacefull. Other guests all so friendly.

Onto the island resort of Leleuvia next which can be seen from here. I was booked to go there for eight nights. Expecting **** as upgrading itself in price especially at $140 fjd + 45 for food. Reviewing soon. I came back to Caqalai in two days. So pleased to be back, Leleuvia said they had rang and that a bure was availible for me back here. NO such call. Still, my same bure was mine for another 6 nights . Lots of rain this time but had good books. Snorkle in rain fun. Last two days food diabolical, change of cook, shame as rest was good. Leaving was sad, really gone coconutty. Was told I would be at airport in Nasori by 10am no worries. Hum. Was droped by boat at landing on mainland late and no bus or taxi for ages. Clambered onto a local bus which tock me to Nasori township where I got taxi to airport 11:15, direct flight to Auckland at 12:30, made it but was a bit nervous.

Would I go back, ( this is rare for me) yes I think I would. It is hard to find anything as good as this and for such a great price. Just needs a little effort to tidy up and perfect!

Room Tip: A bure on the beach.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sunshine Coast UK!
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2012

I never get round to writing reviews but just reading a few of these posts, I just have to!! We stayed here for 7 weeks (planned to stay 3 days!) 20 years ago, 5 weeks 9 years ago and went back with our children (11 & 7) for the whole 6 week Summer holidays in 2011! Every time, there are different staff and managers with differing levels of cleanliness, attention to detail, food etc. But and it's a BIG but...this is Fiji with the friendliest people on the planet and in 21 years of travelling the globe, we've never found anywhere quite like Caqalai. It is quite simply amazing.

Kick your shoes off, chill and get into the island life. Nowhere warms your soul and rests your spirit quite like Caqalai. We've never had any issues with theft and any unpleasant experiences (like a full scale hurricane in 1993!!) are more than outweighed by good ones.

Don't rush your time here. So many stop for just 1 or 2 nights and it really is a place to savour! Get to know the island folk...fish with them, snorkel with them, drink cava with them, play volleyball with them, go to church with them and they'll enrich your life tenfold! Our children will NEVER forget the amazing Fijians. Levi especially is engraved on their hearts!!

Happy to answer any questions....

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2012

I really had the best time there, but my money, more than 250 Fiji Dollars were stolen from my bure on Caqalai Island.
It could have been one of the fellow tourists there, some young traveller, who run out of money... who know.
Definitely those believing Island people... Never leave any money in the bures, it will just not be there anymore, when you return. The manager was very understanding and we did not have to pay for our stay, but it gives you the creeps a bit. :(

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2012

This may not be your 5 star resort but it is the place in which you can say you had a true holiday because this island puts your mind and body at ease. You do not spend money at all in this island because all meals are included. I'm the type of person who loves the beach and having my bure right by the beach and being able to see the beach from my bed through a window was HEAVEN. The staff are great and very friendly and go out of their way just to make you enjoy your holiday. The kava sessions were also great. Good place to snorkel and also get a tan. I love this place and will go back, thank you Caqalai staff.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Peterborough, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2011

Caqalai has had a change of management recently at the time of writing this (December 2011) and it isn't at all like the bad reviews say. The staff are so friendly and caring and helpful. We felt we left the island as friends with the locals. The manager is excellent and sounds like he has turned the place around. We had a welcome song as we pulled up on the boat and a farewell song as we were leaving which helped to make our stay even more special. When we were shown to our bure I had a "wow" moment. Our bure was beautiful and clean and right by the sea with its crystal clear waters. The toilets were clean and I love the idea of the open shower. The food was delicious with a varied menu and with a variety of fruit available. They even catered for my partner's dietry requirements as he is lactose intolerant. We really were treated as individuals. Staff always addressed us by our names too which was lovely, making the service personal.

As for the island itself it is beautiful. It's so peaceful and quiet and the ideal place to relax and do a bit of snorkelling. We saw so many different things. The coral and fish are every colour you can think of and we saw a lion fish too, what a privelige! At low tide you can walk out to a neighbouring island and walk back again. I wouldn't swim back as the coral is in shallow water but then that's common sense.

We really did not want to leave this little piece of paradise. I had to put my sunglasses on as we were getting into the boat to leave, just to hide a tear I was shedding when they sung the farewell song!

We look forward to returning again at some point. This is a true gem in the Pacific Ocean.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Caqalai Island Resort

Address: | PO BOx 83, Fiji
Location: Fiji > Lomaiviti Islands > Caqelai Island
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Caqelai Island
Number of rooms: 22
Also Known As:
Caqalai Island Hotel Caqelai Island
Caqalai Island Resort Fiji/Caqelai Island

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