The Fijian people are some of the warmest and most beautiful in the world, with their hospitality, genuine welcome, and friendliness to all......Those on Mana Island are absolutely no exception to this, and remain the chief reason we keep returning to Fiji. There are other places in the world with beaches and sunshine, but it’s the Fijian people who keep us coming back. Special mention goes to Zack who sings like an angel and captivated us all with his humour, and to Epi on South Beach. The ladies servicing our room in the 300 Block were just the loveliest people. This was our 3rd stay on Mana (plus we sent my sister and her husband there for their honeymoon 7 years ago), and like a previous reviewer, can attest to a spectrum of changes - some good, some less so - over the past 18 years. Mana is one of the larger resorts, and before booking your accommodation, you should bear this in mind: Your perception/experience there will very likely be coloured by the type of accommodation you stay in. A 4-Star rating for this Resort overall is probably somewhat generous – there will certainly be 4-Star accommodation options in the mix, however the accommodation probably more accurately *ranges* from 2.5 to 4 Star. Dining options, likewise, probably range from 3 to 4 Star, but more on that later (including pricing). The 100-Block Island Bures are being progressively renovated, and while tight space-wise, still offer air-con, an outdoor shower, and the most cost-conscious option. We stayed in the Ocean View 300 Block (upstairs) on North Beach, and for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children 9 and 12 years), this was completely adequate for a fly-and-flop holiday. Kids don't mind sharing a bed, and it's located close to the pool, snorkel bure, and Mamanuca Restaurant on the North Beach. We stayed in this Block 6 years ago, and at that time, it was well-kept and appealing. That said, we were a little disappointed upon our arrival last week: The 300 Block is now quite tired, and desperately in need of rejuvenation (apparently happening next year), and it’s apparent that the Resort operators are just keeping this ticking over until that time. Our beds were mismatched (one sat on a dirty stained base with wheels that didn't fit the mattress, so drooped at the end), the bathroom was a festival of shower mould and poor tiling with intermittent hot water supply (a mixer tap in the shower would have been nice too instead of leaky taps, but hot showers would have been better!), ceiling fan didn't work, broken glass on the deck from a previously shattered glass pane on the door worked its way into my sons foot, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the cigarette butts left sitting in the gardens and on the beach outside the 300 Block were seed pods from some tropical plant, they were that plentiful. Nice to hear about other parties receiving an upgrade or room swap (which probably would have been appropriate given our little room issues and the rough old bird downstairs bleating nastily about normal kid noises – yes, we spoke to Reception about all of this), but sadly this wasn’t the case for us. Shame…..keep families like us happy, and we’ll loyally return to spend our pennies with you rather than elsewhere. Not to worry. Breakfast Buffet is FJD$35 a head, with a reasonable selection on offer, though after 9 days somewhat repetitious (it didn’t really change). A themed Dinner Buffet is also served nightly at the same restaurant (the very tired Mamanuca Restaurant on North Beach), and we all agreed that the food wasn’t quite as nice as it was on our last visit 6 years ago….think school camp, but with nicer tablecloths and a pricetag per head of FJD$65. Children 12 years and under eat “free” from all Buffets with a paying adult, however we still found it more cost-effective (even with drinks factored in) to dine as a family at the South Beach Restaurant. Food at South Beach is several notches up in terms of quality, and more closely approximates the 4-Star setting you are expecting. Providing you’re not after the Lobster Platter, sizeable, tasty, and attractively presented mains average around FJD$32, with AUD$ and NZD$ equivalents listed on the menu. A-la-carte Children’s menu meals are FJD$15 and $20, well presented, and sizeable for a child. Cocktails across the Resort are all FJD$17……purchase from the pool bar, and you’ll receive a rather pricey slushy or milkshake – seemingly alcohol-free – served without ceremony or garnish in a crazed plastic receptacle. Order at the South Beach Restaurant, and it’s the Real McCoy, with the bells and whistles plus an octane rating, for the same price. Beside the pool, there’s a homely little shack selling good value tasty wraps and sandwiches (FJD$10-13) that are really all the family need for lunch, plus they have a high turnover so the food is fresh. An icecream shack (quality NZ Natural icecream) sits beside the pool too, and while pricey, remember you ARE sitting on an island miles from anywhere in 30 degrees! If you’re a little more adventurous, wander down to the two local Backpackers’ places past the jetty on South Beach. There, you’ll be rewarded with cheaper drinks, a livelier social set, and some comparable dining for less $$……okay, not flash, but fun. If seafood is what you’re after, walk past the first Backpackers and onto the second further along the path: There you’ll find Ravi who will prepare a range of arguably the BEST seafood dishes on Mana Island. Ravi prepared what was probably the freshest, most delicious Crab Curry I have ever had, and have to say everything at the Resort for dinner paled by comparison afterwards! Anyway, back to Mana Island Resort……best snorkelling is to be found at North Beach at the drop-off (50m from shore). Fish are beautiful and plentiful, and free snorkelling sets are clean and in good order, so unless you really want to, don't bother bringing your own. No probs with supply of these, as we cunningly planned our travel outside of School Holiday madness. Hobie Cats on South Beach are new, free, and stacks of fun. Had thought that *all* non-motorised watersports were free, so was surprised to discover the stand-up paddleboard from the same watersports bure would have cost a hefty FJD$40 for 30 mins……must have a little motor concealed in there. Take a walk to Sunset Beach, and climb to the 3 lookout points for some great island vistas. The climbs are a great adventure for the family (how do those hermit crabs get up there?), though we were a little surprised by the amount of genuine garbage along the roadside (likely left by tourists) that we encountered along the way. We visited the Village school (Years 1-8), and donated a sizeable pile of stationery and school books from our own school in NZ which were gratefully received by truly gorgeous children. A Villager told us the best time to visit was 10am, so we made it so. Several staff around the Resort told us that there are some significant renovations planned for the next year or so, and I suspect that the ageing family pool area and Mamanuca Restaurant are probably on the list (judging by the finger-pointing folk standing with plans in hand). Will we be back? …….maybe, after these upgrades are complete. Mana Island Resort, as it stands, really is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel that has the potential – with some much-needed investment from it’s owners – to be one of the best Resorts in Fiji. It’s blessed with size, beaches, and natural beauty that some of the smaller island resorts don’t quite have. I found myself brimming with ideas on how to make this Resort better…..but then, that’s not my job, and I doubt anyone really looks at those pink Feedback forms (so didn’t waste my beach-time on departure day completing it). Vinaka.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.