Written in July 2013 during visit; submitted November 2013.
A stay at Dolphin Bay Divers allows you easy access to some of the best diving in Fiji, on the Rainbow Reef. This is a small, low-key 'retreat' that has a laid-back atmosphere but that pays considerable attention to detail. We enjoyed our stay immensely and recommend it highly to other divers with the caveat that to really enjoy Dolpin Bay Divers, they must be relatively easy-going people who are happy with somewhat rustic accommodations, capable of using resources thoughtfully, and who aren't picky eaters.
We purchased a package that included a 7-night stay in a bure, 10-dive package, and full meals.
Our particular bure was shared side-by-side with another (a kind of tropical 'duplex'). The room is an "L" shape with a covered deck filling in the square footprint. The room itself is bright and breezy and very comfortable. But it is made of very light materials and so depends on adjoining neighbours being thoughtful of one another (our neighbours were great).
The bure is a low-rise building of simple tropical construction, with a tin roof and a rough ground floor covered over by vinyl flooring (e..g, no plywood subfloor, just vinyl over earth that can get quite slippery when wet). There is a large double/queen bed with mosquito netting, jutting into the top portion of the "L" with three windowed walls around the sizes and foot of the bed. There is a single bed and a couple chairs in the room as well, along with some flat spaces to place your small belongings (watch, alarm clock, glasses, reading book, etc). There is a small closet with a few hangers and two sulus that you can use during your stay. There is also a cookie jar full of home-made cookies that you can enjoy during your stay - a nice little extra.
Back of the room is an ensuite bathroom with concrete floor. It is equipped with a hot water shower, sink and toilet. There are no persistent sources of water on the island and so they very reasonably ask that you conserve water during your stay (e.g., turn off the shower while soaping, don't leave the water running while brushing your teeth). This may seem a bit oppressive to guests unaccustomed to conservation efforts, but for us it was no problem at all.
The room is equipped with solar-powered lights in the main room and bathroom, plus a solar-powered reading lamp. Outdoors, the way to the room is marked by tiki torches. Nevertheless, a small flashlight would serve you well during your visit. A power generator runs for a few hours in the morning and in the evening; there is space in the kitchen where you can charge any electronics you may have with you. Apparently there is wifi near the kitchen that is available during the hours that the generator is running, but I was never inclined to use it.
The tap water is OK for brushing teeth but should not be consumed. There is a large water filter on your porch that will provide you with unlimited (free) drinking water during your stay.
The retreat itself is very small with a maximum of about 25 guests staying in a variety of accommodations - bures, tipis and tents. We had been a little reluctant about a tent option because we were concerned about security of the items we were traveling with (money, passports, computers, etc) but this retreat is so far off the beaten path and is so small that nobody comes or goes without recognition. Your stuff is safe and the tents are large (standing room) with big tarps overhead.
The retreat is the only populated area along the bay that it occupies and accessible only by boat, giving rise to the appropriate label of 'retreat' (NOT 'resort'). The buildings are all of simple construction and built back from the beach; they are not a blight on the landscape the way some resorts can be; there are no masses of poured concrete! Meals are served at the kitchen where a covered deck is set with several tables. Guest may choose to dine with other guests or on their own, as they wish. Weather permitting, the evening meal is sometimes served in front of the kitchen, under the stars.
We very much enjoyed the opportunity to dine with the other guests and sometimes also with staff. Guests and staff know and refer to one another by name.
The meals are outstanding. I feared a week of bland, buffet-style offerings. Instead, we received personalized table-service with a fixed menu that varied delightfully from day-to-day. If you have food allergies or are a very picky eater, you should talk to them about meal options before booking; we have no dietary restrictions and found the meals to be tasty, well-presented, very well prepared, and satisfying.
For those with a big appetite, seconds can be requested and will be happily provided. And the resort caters to the munchies by providing a for-fee snack service as well as complimentary and constantly available freshly-made cookies, tea, coffee, and filtered water. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (other than the free filtered water, tea, coffee) are available for purchase; the prices are very reasonable, with no obvious gouging. When we visited, alcoholic drinks varied from $6.00FJ or about $3.50CAD/AUS for a Fiji Bitter beer to $13.50FJ or about $7.50CAD/AUS for a pina colada.
The staff are extraordinarily friendly and helpful and we cannot over-emphasize the excellent quality of the service they provided. Their attention to detail was remarkable. They were so smooth and professional in their operation that it would be easy not to notice all that they do to make your stay enjoyable. But take the time to notice; this place is special.
At the room, we had sulus in our closet, umbrellas at the door, a beach basket with towels and mat. In the bathroom, we had shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and hand soap. On the porch, we had a table and chairs, filtered water and glasses, a hammock and a place to hang it. In front of the porch, we had two adirondack-style chairs and a foot-wash bowl to clear our feet of sand and grit. To the side of the bure, we had a large dry-line for wet articles.
On the grounds, there are numerous ropes slung between suitable trees to hang your hammock when you want to venture from the porch. There is a small dive shop with rinse buckets and drying racks for drying and storing wet gear (there is not, however, a full shop so don't count on making any dive-related purchases). There is a deck in front of the kitchen that is roofed-in and that can be covered over in case of heavy or driving rain. There is a small sandy beach in front of the kitchen with a long line of Adirondack chairs, in front of the house reef that can be snorkeled or independently dived (poor visibility, though, after rain or in high winds). For those so inclined, there are options for chair and full body massage, pedicure/manicure, etc.
"Extras" over and above the pre-paid package are billed to the room and can be settled at the end. Each evening, the staff provide a chit that summarizes the daily purchases and the total so that you can easily keep track of additional expenditures you might wish to make (none are required).
In the morning while we were at breakfast, the staff refreshed our foot-wash bowls. While out on our first dive, they made our bed, folded back the mosquito net, pulled back the curtains, tidied, and cleaned our bathroom. While at dinner in the evening, they put down our mosquito net, closed our curtains, and folded down our bed.
They offer 'happy hour' activities that are surprisingly fun and not nearly as cheesy as you might expect. We enjoyed that the staff played the games with us and didn't only provide entertainment. And their kava night is not to be missed!!
We had fun with coconut bowling, crab races, lovo night, kava night, traditional Fijiian dance, coconut demonstration (climbing the tree, drinking the green coconut, making coconut milk from the brown ones), etc.
Although many guests were divers, there were also many non-divers, and some families. The small beach area offers snorkelling and swimming; you can also walk 10 minutes over the hill to another beach for snorkelling. Independent children can roam without worry. There are many comfortable places to sit in the sun or shade to read a book.
The dive shop is very professional. The dive boats are restricted to a maximum of 10 divers but on most days there were no more than 4-6 in addition to the dive master and boat captain. Most dives are done as drift dives, whether or not there is strong current, so that the boat picks divers up at the end of their dive. The divemaster, AP, is laid-back and interactive but he and the captain are very in-sync with the divers, quick and efficient to change out tanks and organize gear and there are always good briefings; there is no confusion on land or under water.
For us, Dolphin Bay Divers' Retreat was nothing short of perfect.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat is a small family style dive resort on the Rainbow Reef in Fiji. Accessible by boat only it nestles in a horseshoe bay, surrounded by Rainforest, White Sandy Beach and Palm trees. Minutes to all the dives sites including the world famous white wall, famous for Softcorals, 20+ dive sites to choose from this is the ideal dive spot. Dolphins, Reef Sharks, tropical fish, it's all there, including a PADI dive shop where you can take courses in English or German. Accommodations range from bure with private bathrooms to Jungle Tents with shared bathrooms, all with comfortable beds and mattresses and very close to the beach. Let the soft lull of the waves put you to sleep, sip a glass of wine in your hammock and let the fish go by! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat Hotel Taveuni Island