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Tavarua Island Resort

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Tavarua Island Fiji
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Free cancellation until 11/22/19
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This is going to be a long review with the goal of giving as many details as possible for anyone going to, or considering going to, Tavarua. This was as A+++ a place on the planet but there were some surprises and somethings I wish I had known ahead of time so I thought I would pass that along. Here's the list of things I'll pass along. I'll try to be as short and concise as possible but if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. 1-Making reservations 2-Getting there 3-What to bring and what to not bring 4-Things to do while there 5-The People 6-The dirt under the nails 7-Anything else I can think of 1-Making Reservations: The first thing to note is that reservations are set up to be a week long. You'll arrive on a Saturday and leave on a Saturday and other than excursions or emergencies you'll just be on this small island for a week. When going online to Tavarua Island Resort’s website you'll get a quick summary. The reservation button is in the top right corner. They will then ask you a bunch of questions. You should answer these as honestly as possible. They are trying to match you up with groups of people of similar age and interest to make sure you are compatible. This makes sense since you're kind of in a Gilligan's Island situation for a week so they don't want a bunch of families having to deal with a bunch of drunk party-hard surfers for 7 days. Also, they work with Waterways Travel so don't be surprised if that's who contacts you. I called them in late November on a whim and they had a spot available for a family during the week after Christmas so I took it. What I later found out is that they are usually booked out years in advance and I just happened to call the day after they had a cancellation. So book early!!!!! 2-Getting There: To get to the island you will first be shuttled 45 minutes though Fijian back roads until you get to a tiny rocky beach. You're bags and surfboards will have been picked up by the company working with the resort and then brought to this beach. They then have locals carrying your stuff to an awaiting Panga that will carry it to the island for you. This part is really well run and the guys carrying your stuff were very careful and respectful of everything. Nothing was dinged and nothing was thrown. It was really well done so you don't have to worry. You then have to wade out to a waiting panga so your feet will get wet. It's not a big deal though and flip-flops easily sufficed. Don't buy special shoes for this. Once loaded with the passengers we then took the 45 minute ride out to the island. The pangas are open and you will most likely be sprayed. The Fijian drivers try to slow down for as many larger rollers as they can but ultimately you'll be sprayed. The good news is that the water is 80F and the air even warmer. But if you have anything you don't want wet be sure to wrap it in a plastic bag. Many of the folks who had been there before had waterproof backpacks for their stuff. This was overkill but I could see the reason. I just had a regular backpack with all my stuff in a plastic bag and it was fine. The water was choppy due to wind but no one was seasick going or coming back. Still, if you're very prone to it I'd take something just in case. Once you arrive at the island you are greeted by a small group of Fijians playing music and many of the staff members who will help you get ashore (once again getting a bit wet) and then help direct you to the office to check in. At first I thought this was a corny touristy welcome like you'd receive in Hawaii but after a day or so I realized how genuinely the Fijians like you being there and how incredibly open and friendly they are and I realized how I had misread their wonderful intentions. After getting to the beach you are taken up to the office when you check-in like you would any other hotel- name, regestration, credit card information and they have you sign a waiver in case you get hurt doing something. Once signed in you go off to your easily found Burre where your luggage is waiting for you. Many of the families we arrived with had been there before and there was a mass exodus of kids to grab surfboards and jump in before doing anything. We were rookies and thought we should unpack but in retrospect, that could have waited. Comments on getting there: We arrived two days early. The same company working with Tavarua picked us up, got our luggage and then brought us to the Westin on Denarau Island. Coming there a few days early added some cost to the trip but was worth it. We were able to go into Nadi Town, visits a few places and see some sites in the area. It also allowed us to acclimate to the time change. 3-What to bring and not bring: Clothing/Accessories: Things you’d typically think of for a tropical vacation such as a wide-brimmed hat, flip-flops, shorts, light weight shirts and so on but also, be sure you bring sun screen that is reef safe. I’d probably avoid cotton as it can be muggy and the cotton clothing will start sticking to you pretty good. As an FYI, Hawaii published a list of approved screens plus you can go online to find more. I brought sunscreen from a company in Santa Cruz, CA called Burn Out and it worked perfectly on my face and arms. My wife brought the only reef-safe spray she could find from Alba Botanica but according to Consumer Reports no spray works all that well so if you have fair skin I’d stick to creams and lotions as the sun will get you. Snacks-The food is awesome. There’s a large buffet three times a day that has both meat and vegetarian selections but if you’re hungry in between you’ll have to go to the shop or invade the minifridge in your burre. This will be very expensive so bring tons of extra snacks to eat. They charge a premium for the minifridge contents plus an additional 27% tax so a small thing of oreo cookes will cost you $5 US. Someone told us to bring energy bars, chocolate and anything else that you could eat for snacks so we did and were very happy about it. My kids still raided the fridge unfortunately. You can also ask them to remove the contents of the fridge if you want to avoid having my experience. Alcohol- I don’t drink so I didn’t worry about it but I did see other people with their own bottles of stuff. The bar is not amazingly expensive until you remember the added tax. I wouldn’t bring a case of beer but some Rum or another bottle of your favorite might be of benefit. Cash and Extra expenses-You don’t really need much cash. Everyone takes both and US and Fijian dollars. The conversion rate for us was US $1=F $2.14. Staff tipping of about 10% can be added to your bill at the end. It’s worth every penny-you’ll see. I tipped cash of $100 Fijian to the company who picked me up and hauled my bags and surfboards around for me. They were great. At the pickup/drop off beach there’s some touristy trinkets to buy with cash. They’re inexpensive trinket gifts and for some people it was their only time to get these small things. Lastly, Kava root. They’ll ask you to bring money to buy Kava that will eventually be used in the Ceremony that happens every Thursday. They put ours on our bill as it was easier but initially they wanted it as cash. Equipment: Surfboards-They have CostCo wave storms and larger soft-tops that are tons of fun to use. Lots of people bring their own boards as well and there are covered racks where everyone can stow their stuff. Bring tropical wax as I think everything else will melt. Bring a few bars as you’ll end up sharing. If you only plan on surfing out in front at KiddieLand then I’d just use their boards and have fun. You can also take them to other breaks but if you’re a hard-core then just bring your own. Snorkeling-they have really nice masks and an assortment of well-cared for fins. I brought my own set and I’m glad I did as I’m used to it but I would have been just as happy to use theirs as well. Plus, its all included in the price so you can use it as long and as often as you’d like. Fishing- The fishing boat driver, Manu, will take you out in the fishing boat whenever you like. They have three or four scheduled per day. We trolled for tuna and skipjack but there’s tons of fish out there. Unless you’re in love with your equipment I’d just use theirs. Manu has some heavy weight rods and reels and a collection of lures appropriate for the fish in the area. We caught tons of skipjacks and others caught tuna. One thing to note- it seems Manu has to pay for the lures himself. One was lost when we caught a large reef shark. He almost got his hand chomped trying to remove the lure and it was only later, once I thought about it, that it seemed odd that he take a large risk for a lure. I’m no fisherman but I know this big lures are expensive so I tried to repay him and he refused me several times but when I insisted that my vacation should not cost him money he quietly accepted. You could see the huge relief on his face. So if you do lose a lure I’d recommend insisting on paying him back. Towels: They have you sign out large beach towels so don’t bring your own. I did bring a small camping chamois towel and used it several times but it wasn’t really needed. Spear Fishing-I didn’t go but should have. I actually brought down a Hawaiian sling to try but it was windy and choppy plus I was in lazy tropical vacation mode so I didn’t go. The life guards went several times and a few are avid hunters. They were more than happy to bring anyone along with them and several other guests went and had a great time. I think they borrowed the spear guns as didn’t see anyone bringing their own and the guests who went were not the Sea-hunting types. 4-Things to do while there: Surf, snorkel, realax and more. The place is famous for Cloudbreak and other amazing surf spots but here’s the list of other things you can do. -Snorkel, spear fish, boat fishing, ping pong, pool, skateboard ramp, tennis court, ½ basket ball court, comb the beach for shells and sea glass, night walking looking for sea snakes (yes it’s safe), night walking looking for turtles, sitting by the pool, sitting at the bar, sitting on the beach, messages at the spa, excursions to Cloud 9-( a crazy wood-fire pizza place sitting on a coral reef miles from shore), SCUBA can be arranged, hiking on Cast Away Island, snorkeling the Sand Bar at low tide, sleep and do-nothing. I surfed Cloudbreak twice before the weather turned too windy. The first day was terrifying, the second more acceptable to us mere mortal surfers. Still, it was an amazing experience. I also surfed in front of the restaurant at Kiddie Land. This was also a ton of fun at the high tides. Other than that the surf was pretty minimal for us but I know there’s tons of breaks all over the island. 5-The People: staff, volunteers and other guests- The staff is what really makes the island special. The surf may be what pulls people there but it’s the staff that has them falling in love with the place. They are all Fijians from the village who owns the island. They live both on the island away from the tourists and then back on the mainland. I’ve traveled all over the world I don’t think I’ve ever met a group of people who were as genuinely and universally nice. When I was staying at the Westin for a few days I thought it was like Disney where they just hire nice people and then train them to be nicer. But after I walked around in Nadi Town and was greeted continuously by strangers and when I received the same hospitalitiy on the island I realized this absolute hospitality is no façade. The staff on the island are mind-blowingly nice. When they welcome you to their home and invite you to make it your home they mean it. It took me a while to believe it but even when I looked for a wrinkle in their ‘act’ I couldn’t find one as it really is no act. The atmosphere the Fijians create permeates the whole place. The volunteer Life Guards are just as helpful and hospitable. I watched one of the lifeguards drop what he was doing on land so he could swim out in Kiddle Land to help a young girl who had tried unsuccessfully to surf. With his encouragement and some gentle pushes into the waves she was up and flying in no time. The glow on her young face as she started catching the waves was awesome! The other guests were awesome. My family and I were actually very quiet and kept to ourselves but everyone we spoke with or spent time with were amazing. It’s like the island infuses the guests with so much positive energy that it brings the best out. That sounds so hoaky but that’s the way it seemed. 6-Dirt under the nails- Although this is an almost perfect place I thought I’d talk about some of the rare tarnishes I found. Some are just a by-product of it being a remote tropical island and some were a weird surprise but I thought I’d put it out there just to offer the complete picture. Bugs-this is not a mosquito-leaden island. In fact they weren’t too bad but they’re there. I brought bands and stickers plus some non-DEET sprays and was fine. They are there though. My daughter and son were bit a few times but we live in a non-bug area of the world so I think they just weren’t used to it. Also, my son woke up to find a spider the size of my hand two inches from his head, we had two other large spiders in the shower and two large cockroaches. Still, not too bad for a tropical location. Non-bug animals- sea snakes are out there and come up on land at night. They are very docile and do not do anything. On swam by my son while he was surfing Cloudbreak. Still, they are a member of the Cobra family and if snakes terrify you then you should know ahead of time you may see one. This is the same for the fruit bats on the island. I personally love bats and think they’re cool but Dracula stories have tainted us against them so they can freak people out. TOT=27% tax on everything you purchase. The store on the island is very nice. It’s pricey as I’m sure it’s expensive to get stuff out there plus you have a captive audience. On top of that they charge a 27% tax on top of the price. So that $45 Tavarua T-shirt will actually cost you $57.15- in US dollars. There are security cameras in various locations. They’re hidden away so it doesn’t seem like you’re spied on. It didn’t even occur to me that they would have them on the island until I accidently walked into the wrong door while looking for the small infirmary. When I opened the door there was a guy at a desk with several monitors on; all with various camera angles of the restaurant and surrounding area. I’m guessing it’s to make sure people are cared for more than for security as there’s no crime on the island but it still felt a bit like an episode of Lost where they suddenly realize that even though they’re on some remote island they’re still being monitored. There is a disparity between the “Haves” and “Have-nots” that’s clearly visible. This is no different than anything else you’d see in other 3rd world country that try to attract wealthy tourists. Still it is very much there. I think there is a massive amount of respect between the management and Fijians and both are happy with the arrangement so it seems to work out well for everyone but it is there. 7-Anything else I can think of: Bring donations!!!!!!! At the Kava Ceremony the Chiefly family will welcome you to their land. It’s a really cool ceremony and although it initially sounded very touristy you’ll quickly learn it’s not. They will talk about the land and their connection, they will thank you for being there and they will also express how your being there helps their whole community. There is a deep sincerity they bring and once it’s over the Fijians stay, eat and then party with everyone. This isn’t some tourist dance where the actors leave once it’s over. As part of the ceremony you get to go before the Chiefly Family and present them with gifts. This will include Kava roots that someone will help you get but it can also include donations of clothing, medical supplies, school supplies and just about anything. They have so little compared to us that anything is welcome. They have very poor health and dental standards so I brought a case of Colgate tooth paste and a hundred tooth brushes but here’s what I also brought: -100 tooth brushes -Case of Colgate tooth paste -100 automatic pencils -Box of pencil erasers -20 stencils for geometry and cartoon drawing -case of crayons -30 coloring books -Large new first aid kit plus a tube of Neosporin -Much of our clothing that we packed (note, our family tradition is to intentionally packs clothing that we’ll ultimately leave as a donation to a local charity. For this trip we left T-shirts, shorts, flip flops, hats, a rain jacket, socks, and new kids underwear) Other families brought variations of this theme and the Fijians were all appreciative. As a final comment I would tell you this is a Bucket List kind of place. I can understand why people return there year after year. It’s expensive but you absolutely get what you pay for and more. I didn’t expect to love it as much I did. Show less
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Staying at Tavarua was the single best place we have ever been. We agreed, that there are cities you’d go back to to explore again, but we’ve never had a desire to go back to stay at the same place...until now. We are definitely going to stay at Tavarua again. In fact we were the only people at the resort when we stayed whose first time it was. Ask anyone you’re staying there with, and everyone answers “oh, i lost count!” there is just something about this place, it’s vibe, it’s beauty, it attracts the best kind of people in this world. The staff was insanely incredible. Warm faces everywhere. And genuinely interested in who everyone is staying on their beautiful island. Everyone is hangs out together, eats together, gets to know each other, laughs together, surfs-and snorkels together. It was truly an amazing time. Fiji night is Thursday, so definitely make sure you stay during a Thursday because it was very cool to see their history and culture and hear their songs, drink their Kava. Pro tip: we didn’t know this coming in, but you should being offerings to the island staff for Fiji night (ie, clothes, books, small luxuries that we take for granted, anything) or you can purchase Kava for them as the offering for when you participate in the Kava ceremony! OH and the foooodddd. SOO good. they are magicians in the kitchen. Every meal was inventive and so tasty. so flavorful. Hang by the pool around 5 for happy hour hors d’oeuvres. they were the best. I wish we had gotten to experience the poke bowl or sushi night. but the food was truly out of this world. everything is included (except wifi: $120 for the week for one device- it was nice to disconnect, but could be cool to have a computer people can log onto for like 30 mins or so just to check to make sure everything is okay at home!) everything is included: diving, boat rides to breaks, snorkeling, SUP, fishing, spear fishing, soft tops, kayaks, tennis court, etc. I can’t wait to go back.
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Been here once before years ago and loved it. A ‘surf resort’ but far from limited to that. Fiji is gorgeous and her people, wonderful, but Tavarua exceeds any and all expectations. From airport pickup and delivery to the included meals, water toys and superlative staff, this resort, on a tiny island, is simply the best. Expensive to some, when you consider the inclusions it’s very fair. My wife cried because we had to leave! That’s never happened before! Suggestion: see if you can get a villa. Above and beyond experience.
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As a non-surfer married to someone that surfed the whole time I was there I wasn't sure how I'd enjoy the island. I LOVED it! I had not one complaint and there was SO much for me to do, or choose not to do while there. The food was best ever, the staff was best ever, the setup of the Bures is perfect. Everything about this island is perfection. 1 week was not enough and I wish I could have extended it. I hope to be back!!
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My partner froths on surfing and as a treat he decided to take me to Tavarua island resort so he could surf world class waves and I could work on my tan. What an absolutely fabulous place!! There was barely anyone there and we basically had this beautiful island to ourselves for the week. There was endless activities to do for us non surfers and the people there were so lovely and accommodating. I was nervous about the meals because they come included but everything was delicious with such variety, I literally put on 5 kegs from the buffet at every meal. My partner said he got the best waves of his life describing it as magical! I literally have nothing bad to say about this place . I wish I could of stayed there forever...
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ALSO KNOWN AS
tavarua island hotel tavarua island
LOCATION
FijiTavarua Island
NUMBER OF ROOMS
10
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Frequently Asked Questions about Tavarua Island Resort
Which popular attractions are close to Tavarua Island Resort?
Nearby attractions include Momi Battery Historical Park (5.0 miles).
What are some of the property amenities at Tavarua Island Resort?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include a pool, an on-site restaurant, and a lounge.
What food & drink options are available at Tavarua Island Resort?
Guests can enjoy an on-site restaurant and a lounge during their stay.
Are there opportunities to exercise at Tavarua Island Resort?
Yes, guests have access to a pool and a fitness center during their stay.
Does Tavarua Island Resort have an airport shuttle?
Yes, Tavarua Island Resort offers an airport shuttle for guests. We recommend calling ahead to confirm details.
Is Tavarua Island Resort located near the city center?
Yes, it is 0.08 miles away from the center of Tavarua Island.