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“Dive Dive Dive !”

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Wananavu Beach Resort
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Rakiraki
Certificate of Excellence
West Palm Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Dive Dive Dive !”
Reviewed August 10, 2013

All of my expectations were either met or exceeded. Having dived several other places I can honestly say this was by far the best dive experience of my life. I don't know where to begin.

My decision to come here was based on the reviews and easy access. It is very frustrating trying to plan a trip when you have to take three or four different airplanes to get there. But what was great about Fiji and this place is it was a direct flight from Los Angeles via Fiji Airways. At the airport we were met with the transfer agent who loaded our bags in an air-conditioned van, and drove us three hours to the resort, which is in a very remote village in the north of the main island. The last 20 minutes of the ride to the resort is bumpy, since it is an unpaved road. It was not great after traveling for 24 hours.

The pricing for the Dive package, which included our meals, was very competitive and less expensive than many other places. We had some issues with the rooms when we arrived, namely the air-conditioners were not working properly, so they moved my room to a unit that worked better but the room was smaller. The manager was very accommodating and he gave me a free massage for my troubles. I was jetlagged and irritable to begin with, ha ha. All meals were included, but they charged extra for sodas which I felt was nickel diming, but so what I'm on vacation at this point. Staff quickly knows who you are, knows your name and greets you by your name and you don't know how in the world they learn your name so quickly. More on the staff later and the sweetness of the people.

I chose the nitrox package unlimited for the week, which was very reasonable. The package only includes one, two tank boat dives per day,, so we paid extra for the third tank and did three tank boat dives every day, and it was soooo worth it. There's nothing else to do on the resort but swim in the pool eat drink and get massages, so we wanted to do as much Diving as possible since we were so far away from home. The dive shop charges a little more than most Dive resorts, but this is because the best dive sites are an hour away, and up to 23 or more nautical miles from the dock.

We had incredibly personalized service, which included a captain , a deck hand and a diver that came with us on the dives, and on some days the two managers came with us. We had extensive Dive briefings and great camaraderie during our seven Diving days. It was like we became a family ha ha. These guys knew the waters like the back of their hands, and found the best sites 20 miles out without without GPS. Crazy !

The best reefs were in the upper passage of the Vatu Ra straight, in the Bligh waters ( captain Bligh- Mutiny on the Bounty). Unfortunately last year there was a cyclone which reeked havoc on a lot of the reefs. About a third of the reefs were in extremely bad shape and affected the cyclone. But these reefs on a bad day are better than some other places on their best day. We ordered lunch the night before, and they had our lunch and fresh fruit and water on the boat for us. The weather greatly depends on where you can go that day. The closest dive sites were most affected by the cyclone, so you must pray for good weather so that you can go into the outer reaches where the best reefs are, it is what they are famous for. The dive shop managers, and the captain are absolutely committed to showing you the best dive sites which are farther out, which I thought was refreshing since a lot of Dive operators like to stay as close as possible to save on gas. That is not the case with these people.

The reefs are mind blowing, put simply. There are some unpredictable currents, but they would never put intermediate or beginner divers in areas where they know the currents are bad. Since they felt comfortable with us, they took us to some challenging dive sites, one was called the Maytag reef, Which as the name implies has crazy Currents. But it was a lot of fun and very rewarding. The video that I took and sent to people literally blew their minds. We saw at least one shark on every Dive, and they were usually the white tip reef sharks. The fish population is extremely abundant, more than you could look at. All kinds of beautiful and interesting species of angelfish and butterfly fish, and too many others to mention. We saw a few turtles here and there for good measure.

Another word on the resort, the people in general are very sweet, and the culture is very hospitable. But it is not a fake niceness, it is genuine. I had to get used to the fact that the resort is situated in a very remote location, about 20 minutes from the closest village. The village is nothing to write home about, there's absolutely nothing to do in the village, and not even one proper restaurant. So you were stuck at the resort so to speak which is not the worst place today after all. They were a few charges on the bill that had to be removed, and right now I am stuck because there's a problem with the credit card company on their end, they're trying to void the transaction and rerun the transaction. It is created kind of a hassle, but nothing is perfect. Also, and I think this is really important, the Wi-Fi costs extra but it works like lightning and is very reliable. There is also Cell phone service here via my ATT wireless phone company, So you can stay connected if you choose to. There is no TV in the rooms, And the rooms are extremely clean but could possibly use a little sprucing up, especially some new air-conditioners that actually do the job of cooling the room. One thing that was slightly annoying to me is that I don't like stairs. The resort is on the side of the hill so everything is up and down, and if you are not in shape you will really have a hard time getting from one end of the resort to the other.

The food is really excellent considering how remote the place is. There are Indian chefs to turn out an international cuisine. I am a vegetarian, and had no problem finding great vegetarian choices at all meals. There is a four-man ukulele band singing Fiji songs every night, and they offer kava tea in a big bowl which is a local drink that kind of makes you high haha. Alcohol is extra at all meals, and I guess you could say we racked up a lot of extras on that trip haha. So as you can see we had an amazing dive experience, actually a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Which on the resort side had some slight glitches. But all in all I can absolutely recommend this place especially for the Diving. Chris and Vicky at the dive shop will absolutely will give you a dive trip of a lifetime !

Room Tip: If you are a typical American, you will want air conditioning that works. A lot of the rooms have ol...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank phillycrream
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (202)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Level Contributor
30 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2013 via mobile

Our 4 night stay achieved what we came here for - to relax. An oceanfront bure is a must if you intend to do absolutely nothing but sit, read & look at the sea. Not a luxury resort but not budget either. Food is OK. The no frills beauty spa is good value. We liked the friendly feel of the place & will be back for another short break.

  • Stayed August 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Stephanie E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 8, 2013 via mobile

The staff at Wananavu were very welcoming, calm and friendly.

I particularly enjoyed the curry of the day in the restaurant.

My husband and I were upgraded to a beach front bure and it was gorgeous.

I recommend kayaking out to some of the islands after a nice, long breakfast. Try the casava chips!

  • Stayed April 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank meezini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UK
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2013

After a late flight arrival we arrived at Wananavu just as the sun was about to rise. We were helped with our bags to the beautiful honeymoon bure where we dumped our bags grabbed a beer and watched the sun come up together. It was the perfect start to a perfect 5 days. The staff were incredible and the location beautiful. I would happily recommend it to all, and we've promised to go back again soon.

Room Tip: Beach front or Ocean View are worth the extra.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank UKBoots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 6, 2013

If you are wanting an authentic fijian experience that delivers a complete getaway in every sense but with activities like world class diving excellent fishing or bare back horse riding on the beach then Wananavu is where should go.Just amazing.

  • Stayed July 2013
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Helpful?
1 Thank dpjmack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
30 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed August 5, 2013

We stayed at Wananavu after getting a great rate through wotif for 5 nights. When I booked I noted that the week prior to us staying was fully booked out and the week after we left was fully booked yet the week we were staying seemed to have lots of availability in all room types. From the tripadvisor reviews and the great rate we decided to take the plunge foregoing the traditional "Denarau Island" resorts.

Once the plane landed and we finally cleared customs were were VERY happy to escape the screaming children (right now feeling very smug that we were going away from all the "kids club" type resorts). Our driver was lovely and we were tired but happy to hear his life story as we traveled the 2 1/4 hr journey to Wananavu. As others have described the roads are terrible, typical for a poor country and the driver had to navigate people/horses/cows/potholes and still managed to get us there within the 2 1/4 hours. If it had been raining or we were travelling in a larger vehicle it would definitely take much longer. The road back was a lot more interesting during daylight and I really found it an experience to see the 'real' Fiji.. have your camera close is all I'll say...having a massive busload of Fijian children literally hanging out the window to get a glimpse of you is quite an experience.

We were a little disappointed when we arrived as there was a wedding in full swing (by this time it was 10pm). Noone was there to greet us and we had to hunt down the receptionist who eventually apologized for our unusual arrival conditions...no biggie. We were taken to our Bure by the security guard and delivered the dinner (chicken sandwiches and fries..only option available at our late arrival) we had previously organised promptly. The wedding fireworks were lovely to watch from our balcony and we were exhausted so we went straight to sleep.

The Bure: We had bure 21 with Ocean view. When we woke up in the morning and surveyed our surroundings we realized we were in paradise! Amazing views, decent sized bure, not luxury but somewhere 4 star-ish. No phones, no tv...perfect.

We were early to breakfast and were not greeted on arrival, we found a spot to sit that had not been set...it seemed the staff were getting confused between who was there for the 30 or so wedding group, and who was not with them. It was obvious then that the 'wedding group' got far more attention than those not part of it...when the kids started coming in making all manner of noise and the loud wedding group started up I began to think uh.oh...maybe this wasn't such a great idea. We decided to leave the pool for another day and get a "hot rocks" couples massage. The massage was certainly a mixed bag, there is no "couples" room so we were in two separate rooms and whilst mine was AMAZING, probably the best hot rocks massage I've ever had by the Wai Spa lady (who seems to be the one in charge and was there each day I think her name is Aseana..sorry if I got that wrong) my husbands massage was TERRIBLE. On discussing them afterwards I found out he had a very different experience to me, the therapist missed most of the steps, spend 40 minutes on one leg and ignored everything else, she LEFT for about 10 minutes half way through, and spent 10 minutes scratching his head...it was so incredibly weird. It did make for a good laugh though! We wanted to swim and read our books but the wedding guest kids had taken over the pool (parents nowhere to be found), so we went back to our Bure and relaxed before getting ready for dinner..we were anticipating great things for the "Lovo" night. When the "Lovo" night that evening was a very disappointing buffet you had to get yourself (trying to move around the kids!) I had started to think maybe we should just pack our bags, cut our losses and go back to Denarau Island to the Westin (where my sister had stayed with her husband a few weeks prior and loved it). All was saved by the lovely staff member Taniela who told us that the 'wedding group' were leaving the next day so we decided to suck it up and looked forward to the next day.....well....SOOOOOOoooo glad we did!

Once the wedding group left the next day (early) we suddenly realised we were in this amazing resort. We now were given pride of place in a table overlooking the ocean whenever we came to the restaurant (the 1st night there we had been relegated to a side area as the good spots were taken up by the large wedding group tables). We got to know the gorgeous staff, the band, we were treated like royalty with cocktails brought to us poolside by the lovely Ma. We went on the picnic day out to the private island on one day (amazing), had the lovely Alvin make us "chicken palau" especially, the amazing band (especially Jack & Tiko) played all our favorite songs and we drank Kava together which was fun ....the whole trip turned from average to amazing and we had a fabulous time for the remaining 4 days and were very sad to leave. I even went back to Wai spa for a massage and facial..again probably the best I've ever had!

The only downside for the rest of the 4 nights was that the mattress was terribly hard...I inquired about getting a topper for the mattress as my back pain had started to flare up to the point where I was having to get up and walk around the room 3-4 times per night...none was available so I would suggest the resort invest in a few toppers as an option just for those people who need a softer mattress. Also the food when ordered from the menu is delicious, however the offerings for the lovo night (bear in mind here i detest buffets...I don't like paying to get up to get my own food...just feels so cheap and nasty to me) was decidedly average....I would prefer to see a few lovo pit cooked specials on the normal daily menu and served as per every other night with the entertainment which was also good.

All in all, when it's quiet (for a few hours in the middle of the trip we were literally the only guests!) Wanananvu is an idyllic utopian paradise. If you're there during the same time as a large wedding group I am afraid you might be disappointed. I would return if I was guaranteed no wedding groups (or kids), if the spa staff were all at the same experience level (Asana's level is top notch), and if there was an upgrade or the option for a softer topper for the mattresses.

Room Tip: The Ocean View was lovely and away for the restaurant which meant it was very quiet.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank SezzieM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canberra, Australia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed July 30, 2013

Although more and more people are starting to find this place it is still an amazing place. When you get into Ra and see the red dirt you it never fails to get the heart pumping...even after dodging traffic and huge pot holes. Over the top of the mountain and then slowly into the reception area. It si postcard stuff located on the water. Staff are always nice pool and beach are great. Food is above average but it is not quite utopia since the "Grays" have left but what a gift they left us. I still ove it

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jane A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Wananavu Beach Resort

Property: Wananavu Beach Resort
Address: Volvoli Rd, Rakiraki, Viti Levu, Fiji
Phone Number:
Location: Fiji > Viti Levu > Rakiraki
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Rakiraki
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Wananavu Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The real Fiji! Perfect for romance; fabulous for diving excellent for culture. 34 deluxe bures nestled along the beach and amongst tropical gardens. A real island experience with mainland convenience. Located 85 scenic coastline miles from Nadi International Airport. Great food, fantastic staff, unparalleled views, world class diving & snorkeling; amazing village tours and a perfect wedding venue. This is a true Fijian experience and is, as the name suggests, Wananavu, translated loosely as Awesome! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Wananavu Beach Hotel Rakiraki
Wananavu Beach Rakiraki
Wananavu Beach Resort Fiji/Rakiraki

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